Weibrecht ready for some time off
If there was ever any doubt, Andrew Weibrecht erased it last month in Sochi.
The 28-year-old from Lake Placid is the most accomplished Alpine skier ever from our region.
A bronze-medal winner in the super-G event at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, he battled back from a series of injuries to once again surprise the world with a silver medal in the same event in the 2014 games.
Surprise? How do you surprise a field of experienced international competitors two times? Consider that in the four years between medals, Weibrecht had four surgeries and no World Cup podium finishes. But now, after a lot of hard work, he is back in top form.
What does he credit for his renewed success?
“I’ve tried really hard to become consistent, whether it is training or racing,” he said. “I’m learning to build myself up in training and to calm myself down in competition. If I do a good job at that, I can just concentrate on the race ahead.”
Weibrecht also made a ski and boot change before the season. He is now using Head equipment.
“It took a lot of time and energy to find just the right set up this winter. But now I feel very comfortable,” he said.
As he said after his race at Sochi: “It reminds me that all the work that I did to come back from the injuries and just kind of dealing with it through all the hard times, that’s all worth it.”
Weibrecht was home briefly last week to visit family and participate in an Olympians Recognition parade Sunday in Lake Placid that ended in front of the Mirror Lake Inn that is owned by his parents Ed and Lisa. (Lisa Clune Weibrecht grew up in Scotia.)
Andrew married Denja Rand last year. She is the daughter of Lake Placid native and former US Olympic ski jumper Jay Rand who is the executive director of the New York Ski Education Foundation, based at Whiteface Mountain. Local roots run deep.
Weibrecht competed in the Alpine World Cup in Norway after the Olympics, finishing an American-best seventh in the super-G, and now he is in California for the U.S. ski championships being held at Squaw Valley. There, he will run the giant slalom. The downhill was held earlier this year. The super-G was cancelled due to lack of snow.
After the weekend, he will head to Aspen and Sun Valley for races where he can earn FIS points that will lower his score for the season. The lower his FIS points in a year, the better his seeding for races next winter, which means more favorable start positions. Currently, he is 13th in the world in the super-G.
From mid-April through mid-May is downtime for a serious racer.
“It is what the coaches’ call active rest,” said Weibrecht. He has plans to take time with his wife and travel to the Caribbean. Then it is back to training, which will include trips to South America and New Zealand before the race season starts again next fall.
“Ski racing is an 11-month commitment now,” he said.
By international ski racing standards, Weibrecht, born in 1986, is still a young competitor. Bode Miller, who is expected to retire soon, is 36 and still a top competitor. The most accomplished U.S. mens’ racer Ted Ligety is the reigning Olympic and world champion at age 29. Lindsey Vonn is expected to make her comeback from knee surgery next year at age 30. Weibrecht will turn 32 just before the next Winter Olympics in 2018.
There have been some excellent international-caliber skiers from our area over the years, going back to Pat Cunningham of North Creek and Hank Kashiwa of Old Forge to, more recently, Chris Beckmann of Altamont and Tommy Beisemeyer of Keene. But no other has ever won an Olympic medal, let alone two. And if recent results are an indicator, there is more to come from Weibrecht.
Julia Smith, the Shenendehowa sophomore who capped off an outstanding scholastic season by winning the New York State high school championship last month, suffered a torn right ACL while skiing at Whiteface. Ironically, she had just finished competing in the Eastern super-G championship and was freesking on the mountain when the injury occurred. She had surgery recently, with rehab expected to take about six months.
TIME TO CLOSE?
With temperatures finally beginning to moderate and spring just around the corner, some of the smaller areas in our region are already closing for the season.
Maple Ridge closed in early March when its lesson programs ended. Big Tupper has closed. Oak Mountain’s final day is Saturday. Hickory, which did operate some weekends this winter, is a weekend to weekend decision. Willard has ended weekday and evening operations and will run weekend days only.
Royal Mountain built a deep early season base with its snowguns and Jim Blaise said now he expects to operate through April 13. For cross country skiers, Lapland Lake will remain open through April 6.