Travis Ganong set aside his own disappointment and was happy for two of his U.S. teammates Sunday at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Ganong, who trains at Squaw Valley ski resort, was far from the podium, finishing 23rd in the super-G, an event that combines the speed of the downhill with the skills of a slalom racer and is a very demanding event.
Two more medals for U.S. Alpine team
But as a member of the U.S. Ski team, the Lake Tahoe skier could appreciate what two of his teammates accomplished. Andrew Weibrecht surprisingly earned a silver medal and teammate Bode Miller took the bronze, his sixth Olympic gold medal overall.
The two medals give the U.S. Alpine team three total. The other medal was a bronze by Julia Mancuso, who also skis out of Squaw Valley.
“To see Bode back on the podium was great. He was my idol growing up. It just means so much to me,” Ganong said. “I saw him over there kind of crouched next to the fence just kind of reflecting, some tears of joy. He came here to be on the podium and it’s awesome.”
High praise for Weibrecht
Ganong was overjoyed regarding Weibrecht as well. The often injured U.S. skier from Lake Placid, N.Y., had a great run at Sochi.
Weibrecht was certainly an improbable silver medal finisher. In 95 World Cup races, Weibrecht never finished better than 10th. Yet he owns two Olympic medals. The other one came four years ago when he got bronze at the Vancouver Olympics.
“He had a flawless run,” Ganong. “Andrew only has one gear. I mean he has one gear and it’s full-on attacking. Pushing as hard he possibly can every second of the run.”
Taking the gold was Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud, who tore down the mile-and-a-third course in 1 minute, 18.14 seconds. Canada’s Jan Hudec tied Miller for bronze.
The 25-year-old Ganong was 1.87 seconds behind Jansrud. Fellow U.S. skier Ted Ligety was 14th.
In the downhill at the Sochi Olympics earlier in the week, Ganong didn’t medal, but his fifth-place was admirable. It was Ganong’s best finish in a major international event in the downhill, besting his seventh-place mark last month in a World Cup event in Austria.
Olympic experience invaluable for Ganong
For Ganong, the super-G was the last of his two races at the Sochi Olympics. He will head back to the World Cup tour and savor the experience.
“I know what the Olympics are all about now,” Ganong said. “I can really focus for the next four years and go into South Korea (Olympics) with a game plan, be focused, and try to win medals there.”
Ganong expects to be back in Lake Tahoe in time for the U.S. Nationals, which will be held March at Squaw Valley.