The question seems kind of absurd to someone who spent 10 days in a German hospital a few years ago wondering if he was going to live after coming down with orbital cellulitis, someone who shared a camper with his younger brother last summer as a way to save rent, someone who entered this fall as a semi-long shot to reach the Olympics then crashed the party by putting together the best stretch of moguls skiing of his life.
And it kept running through Casey Andringa’s mind last fall as the 22-year-old from Wisconsin wondered whether he had it in him to make a legitimate push to Pyeongchang.
“Are you afraid?”
It became a mantra of sorts for Andringa as he weighed his options over the last six months after deciding to put off school at the University of Colorado to make a madcap dash for the U.S. Olympic team.
“It was something that, every time I'd start to get nervous and start to think about all that could go wrong, I would stop and ask myself 'Are you afraid to have this chance?' Are you afraid of success?” Andringa said. “It was just a little emotional thing that really helped.”
Turns out, he wasn’t afraid. Andringa did the math and realized the only way he was getting to Korea was by winning a couple of selection events just to earn the right to make international starts, something he’d never done. Never done, that is, until he grabbed first twice in a span of three days at a meet in Winter Park, Colorado in December.
And suddenly, the Olympics didn’t appear to be that far off. He finished fifth in Canada on Jan. 6. He was seventh in Deer Valley four days later. Shortly after that, he was on the team.
“I think I knew that this is what I wanted my entire life and I just, I knew that I had to do it so I did it,” Andringa said.
Andringa took a moment to take it all in on Friday morning, when he looked down from the top of the moguls course and saw a few thousand people below, including younger brother Jesse and friends and family, some of whom were wearing special-made “Are You Afraid” T-shirts. His girlfriend made him an “Are You Afraid” sticker to wear on his helmet but Olympic rules prevented him from wearing it so he improvised, jotting it down on both sides of a piece of paper and then stuffing it in his pocket during his run.
Andringa finished 14th during the first round of qualifying and will need to come in the top 10 in the second round of qualifying on Monday to earn a spot in the finals. That’s fine. While disappointed he didn’t earn an automatic berth in the finals, he discovered something about himself over the last few months.
He’s decidedly not afraid.
"It was just this thing that I kind of, it helped get me through some of the harder and more nerve wracking times,” he said.