Two days before a major competition and is when most athletes are bunkering down. For moguls skier Casey Andringa he needed just the opposite.
The 22-year-old decided to leave the Olympic Village to explore the host country. He ended up in Seoul with his friends and family.
Andringa ended up surprising everyone on Monday. He was the last American standing in the men’s moguls final. Andringa wasn’t even supposed to be at the Olympics. He was originally left off the 2017-18 U.S. national team. Not only was he left off, but essentially they named 11 better skiers.
He doubled-down on his training and eventually was selected to compete in PyeongChang.
Andringa did not qualify for the final after the first round of qualifications on Friday. He had all weekend to sit around and wait before the second round of qualifying and final on Monday. That was too much time to ponder for the free-spirit Andringa.
“Coming to the Olympics, you have so many people telling you how it’s going to feel and how you should feel about it all and I think I was getting so caught up in trying to, like, I felt like I had to feel a certain way,” Andringa said.
He knew it was affecting his skiing. He decided to leave town to get away from the formality and seriousness of the Olympic Village.
“It’s kind of strange, but for me that was, I think, the difference between how I was skiing on the first qualifying day (on Friday) and today,” he said on Monday of his trip to Seoul.
Andringa added, “It reminded me why I was here. I got to hang out with the people that are closest to me. We got to have fun and mess around and make jokes. It just brought back that light-heartedness.”
The Milwaukee native took to exploring the Asian food scene in Seoul.
“We just literally walked around, got my new favorite dish, which I think we were calling a cheese river, but I have no idea what it actually was. But it’s hands down my new favorite food.
“I got some chestnuts over an open fire. We just had a great time.”
On Monday, Andringa entered the final in the 12th position. After a solid first run and a dominate second run, the 22-year-old found himself in the third spot heading into the final round. After one spontaneous decision in the last 48 hours paid off, Andringa decided to go for another.
He made a last minute decision to try a cork 10 on the final jump of his run. It was a trick he had never tried in competition before. He came really close to delivering his best run yet, but he landed the jump just a little too hard. He found himself slightly off-balance and it was enough to cause him to finish fifth.
After entering the Olympics ranked 19th, walking away fifth is a huge accomplishment for the American.
“I’m going remember that for the rest of my life,” he reflected. “Just seeing this huge crowd down here and I could see the group of people, my family, friends and everybody.
“I just kind of was laughing and was like ‘This is everything I could’ve ever wanted right here’. Clearly I wanted to be on the podium, but this was everything I could’ve asked for.”