Boulder’s Casey Andringa is skiing in the Olympics, even after it almost killed him

Feb 9, 2018; Pyeongchang, South Korea; Casey Andringa (USA) during mens' freestyle skiing moguls qualification during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Phoenix Snow Park. Mandatory Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports

Skiing nearly killed Casey Andringa. But it didn’t stop him from taking the slopes in PyeongChang, South Korea as part of the U.S. freestyle ski team.

Andringa was born in Milwaukee, Wisc. He and his parents moved to Colorado when he was 3, and he promptly started skiing. He joined the Winter Park freestyle team at 8. After years of practice, he cemented himself as an elite freestyle skier in Colorado. Andringa has taken the World Cup tour by storm, already achieving two top-10 results, including a fifth-place finish in Deer Valley. In December, Andringa dominated the U.S. Selections competition, winning six runs in a row and earning World Cup starts. Andringa has endured some devastating setbacks, one of which could have not only ended his skiing career, but his life as well.

Four years ago, Andringa was one injury away from making the United States National team. Unfortunately, he tore his meniscus one week before the Freestyle World Junior Championships. The knee injury couldn’t keep him away the sport he loves, though. While skiing with Vail Ski & Snowboard Club, he recalls taking pills before every session to temporarily relieve the pain.

“I had this little pill bottle of anti-inflammatories that they called ‘the magic bullet’ because, if I wanted to ski that day, I had to take one, otherwise I was in too much pain,” Andringa told the Park Record.

Shockingly, Andringa’s legacy as a skier was almost nonexistent due to a nearly-fatal illness he contracted in Switzerland training with Vail Ski team.

“I basically had orbital cellulitis,” Andringa told the Park Record. “No one’s ever heard of it. I’d never heard of it. It’s one of those things when you ask a doctor about it they say, ‘Ah, that never happens,’ because it’s so rare, but then it was turning into meningitis.”

Teammates noticed Andringa’s face was extremely swollen after a day of training, so he was rushed to a Swiss hospital. Doctors feared the infection Andringa contracted could seep into his brain and kill him.

“At one point, I straight up asked a neurosurgeon, ‘Am I going to die?’ And he told me that they didn’t know,” Andringa told the Park Record.

Thankfully, antibiotics effectively treated the illness and he returned the slopes weeks later.

Four years after blowing out a knee then flirting with death, Andringa’s current season has been the best of his career. He had his first outright win at the U.S. Selections in Winter Park, Colo., which meant he earned his first nomination to the U.S. Ski Team. That win also allowed him to compete in his first World Cup competition. Afterwards, he broke into the top six for the first time at the Deer Valley World Cup. These results helped solidify his position on the U.S. Team and led to his selection to the Olympic Team as a mogul racer.

A senior studying Marketing at the University of Colorado Boulder, Andringa has more than just homework to complete in these coming weeks.

Andringa sits in 14th place after the first round of men’s moguls qualifying with a score of 75.25 — 10.82 points behind the leader, Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury. Andringa will ski fourth in the second round of qualifying.

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