Casey Andringa, a Boulder, Colorado athlete competing in the men’s moguls competition in Pyeongchang, has taken one of the most unusual and inspiring pathways to the 2018 Winter Olympics, from living in a camper in the woods to coming close to death.
His story personifies the stuff the Olympics are made of: Determination, passion, grit. Andringa, 22, is among four American men competing as moguls skiers in the Olympics. The qualifying event was held on February 7, 2018. “He is the unlikeliest Olympian of them all,” NBC reports.
Although he didn’t qualify for the finals during the qualifying run on February 7, Andringa has a second chance to do so on Monday, February 11.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Andringa Lived in a Camper in the Woods to Save Money During the Training Season & Ate Tuna Fish
One of the most unique details in Andringa’s story: In summer 2017, “he camped in the woods during his training to save cash for the upcoming season,” The Denver Post reports. Most of Andringa’s posts on Instagram showcase the grandeur of the outdoors.
According to NBC, Andringa lived on a diet of tuna fish sandwiches “in a ’90s pop-up camper parked in the woods, wifi-less, with younger brother Jesse, also a moguls skier. Their dad bought it on Craigslist for $2,000. They called it the Viking.” According to the Park Record, Andringa set up the camper in the Routt National Forest outside Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Andringa also described on Instagram how he took a road trip in search of moguls, writing, “Throwback to our road trip to Apex, BC this November in search of moguls. Was pretty stoked to be able to team up with @myencha to keep warm and make some nice matcha after training all day. #myencha.”
2. Andringa Suffered a Knee Injury & Almost Needed Emergency Brain Surgery
Casey Andringa was once so ill that he was told he might not ever leave the hospital alive. In the first bout of bad luck, though, reports The Park Record, he “tore his meniscus a week before the Freestyle World Junior Championships” as a teenager.
He recovered from that injury, but misfortune struck the young athlete again.
While in Switzerland, Andringa started to suffer from intense headaches, which he says were “orbital cellulites.” That’s “an infection next to the thin bones separating the eye from the brain,” reports WFLA. There was concern he had meningitis, and there was talk of sending him to brain surgery. Doctors told him they weren’t sure if he would live. But he did.
Amazingly, he suffered yet another leg injury after recovering.
3. Andringa Thought the World Was Telling Him to Quit
At times, with everything adding up, Andringa contemplated that he was being sent a message. “There have been a lot of times where I felt the world was telling me to quit and it just seems like each time I would get close to my dream, something would go wrong. It just never seemed to line up,” he told the Denver Post.
Hunter Bailey, Andringa’s friend, says his talent was never in doubt, but told The Park Record, “It’s one of those things where skills-wise, it’s not that crazy — he’s that good. I knew if he had the chance he would get it. There was no question in my mind. But he’s had the chance taken away from him so many times, I think everyone was starting to think it had passed him by.”
The Park Record describes the steady route that Andringa took to the U.S. Olympics team. First, he won at the U.S. Selections in Winter Park, Colorado, “which meant he got his first nomination to the U.S. Ski Team,” the newspaper reported.
“That win also meant he got to ski in his first World Cup competition, where he took seventh, then broke into the super finals (top six) for the first time at the Deer Valley World Cup.” That’s what helped him achieve a spot on the Olympic Team by ranking in the top three men’s moguls skiers in the country.
4. Jonny Mosely Inspired Andringa When He Was a Child
When he was 6-years-old, Andringa watched Olympic skier Jonny Mosely perform his famous “dinner roll trick,” and decided he wanted to become a moguls skier. The New York Times describes the dinner roll as “two horizontal revolutions in the air while ducking and twisting” and a stop “just after landing the jump.”
“I watched him at the Olympics and told my parents, ‘I want to do that!’” Andringa said.
Andringa had a chance to meet his idol in South Korea. He wrote on Instagram, “The only reason I ever wanted to ski bumps was because of Jonny. When I was younger I’d draw pictures of his 360 mute grab and even had the Jonny Moseley skiing action figure and I re enacted his 2002 run with the dinner roll probably 1000 times. And my whole family has watched fist full of moguls probably more times than that. Getting to take a picture with Jonny, wearing an Olympic bib at the bottom of the mogul course in PyeongChang is one of those humbling moments that brings me back to everything that got me here. So here’s to the legend, @jonnymoseley.”
5. Andringa Is In a Local Band & Also Likes Surfing
Andringa also plays in a band, according to his Olympic bio, which reads, “Son of Jeff and Pam…Has on older sister, Heidi, and one brother, Jesse…Is a drummer in a local band, Salty…Hobbies include surfing, climbing and photography.” He wrote with one photo on Instagram, “Out here takin pics and surfin waves it’s what I do thanks @topodesigns for the hat it’s been keeping my dry orange hair out my eyes all trip.”
He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1995, stands 5 foot 11 inches tall and weighs 180, according to the bio. It lists one career highlight for Andringa: “2015 FIS Junior World Championships, 3rd (dual moguls).”