After 16 years of international competition and two Olympic medals, retirement comes with a pretty good record of on-the-snow achievement.
So, Andrew Weibrecht, where do you hang out these days when you head for the slopes?
"The bunny hill!" said the three-time Olympian last week. "So far this winter, my only ski buddy has been my daughter Ada. She will be 3 in February.”
Weibrecht announced his retirement from ski competition last spring after a career that gives him a strong claim as the most accomplished Alpine skier ever to come from our region. There have been other high achievers, like 1994 Super G gold medalist Diane Roffe, who have lived for a time in the area, but Weibrecht is the real deal having been born and raised in Lake Placid.
And, it appears very likely that he will stick around as he raises a family and learns the family business.
His parents, Ed and Lisa Weibrecht, are longtime owners of the stately Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid, and Andrew Weibrecht’s wife Denja is the daughter of village native, ex-Olympic ski jumper and longtime area ski official Jay Rand. Andrew and Denja have a second child, Silje, now 6 months old and a skier-in-waiting. The couple works at the Mirror Lake Inn, while Andrew is also finishing up his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College.
The hospitality business would seem like a natural fit for Andrew Weibrecht.
"I have spent so much time traveling around the world,” he said. “I know what I like and what I don't like, and I can bring that experience with me to work."
Juggling work, school and two children under the age of 3 is certainly not life in the slow lane. But, then, when you have spent all of your adult life up to now either racing or training to race, it might seem like there would be something missing in the first year of retirement.
Not so, according to Weibrecht.
"No pangs," is what he said when asked if he misses the rush of the starting gate and international competition. "I keep waiting for it. But not yet. I'm OK. I have no interest in being there."
Weibrecht is clearly relaxed and reflective in his new role as an ex-competitor. Long known for his relentless workout and training schedule, he can now back off and take it easy when he wants to call it a day. Bulking up was important to his life as a competitor. Since retiring last spring, he has lost 30 pounds.
And after seven surgeries over his competitive career, his body is now ready to say thanks for the break.
"Alpine ski racing hurts. When I was 21, I could just push through the physical stuff,” Weibrecht said. “But, in recent years, I found that I just don't snap back as easily anymore."
Weibrecht won an international junior competition as a young teen. But he burst onto the World Cup radar in 2007 at Beaver Creek, Colorado, when as the 53rd starter on a downhill course already beaten up by higher-seeded racers, he buzzed down the course to a 10th-place finish and a tide of admiring comments from competitors on the scene and those watching repeated replays on television.
While his World Cup results were not podium level for the next 10 years, his bronze medal in Vancouver in 2010 and his silver medal at Sochi in 2014 were enough to place him in the elite company of Bode Miller, Tommy Moe, Ted Ligety and Phil Mahre as the only American men who have won two Olympic medals in Alpine ski competition. Weibrecht added a World Cup silver medal in a Super G event on the famed Kitzbuhel, Austria, run in 2016, but his effort to make it to the podium in three straight Olympics fell short. He did not finish his race in 2018 at PyeongChang.
Now he is back in Lake Placid, except for short excursions like a recent clinic at Sugar Mountain in North Carolina and a stint as a television commentator during the World Cup women's races last month at Killington.
He's pretty happy the way things have turned out.
"I had a great childhood here in Lake Placid. I want to raise my kids here. There are so many opportunities,” Weibrecht said. “The beauty of the place is they will have the chance to try everything."
The village has a long tradition in winter sports, dating back to before the 1932 Olympic Games. Not many of the key players in the 1980 Olympic organizing effort are still active, leaving plenty of room for a next generation of local leaders. Dad Ed has long been active in local affairs, including years of service as member of the Olympic Regional Development Authority Board of Directors.
How about Andrew?
"I am very proud to be from Lake Placid,” he said when asked about future involvement. "I'm sure I will be interested in taking on broader roles in the future."
Visitors to the Mirror Lake Inn can see Weibrecht's two Olympic medals now mounted behind the registration desk next to the main lobby. Soon there may be another honor on display. In April, Andrew will be in Park City, Utah, to be inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
Last week, I mentioned that the International Children's Winter Games will be held in Lake Placid from Jan. 7-10. There will be some 600 young athletes, ages 12 to 15, competing in eight sports — and yes, volunteers are still needed.
The Children's Games have been held since 1968, primarily in Europe. The first winter games were held in 1994. These games are sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee. But these are not the same as the broader IOC-sponsored Youth Olympics that were established in 2012 and scheduled next in 2020.
For more information head to lakeplacid2019.com.
Looking for last-minute stocking stuffers for your favorite winter sports enthusiast? Here are five modest-cost items that can be found at many area shops . . .
. . . Hand and toe warmers are always appreciated.
. . . A retractable ticket-and-pass holder is easier to handle than the old glue-on lift ticket wicket.
. . . A ski lock. Enough said.
. . . A pocket-sized, rub-on ski wax for that quick glide boost.
. . . My essential item: a lightweight head sock or balaclava that goes from “just handy” to “essential” on a cold, windy day.
Seven people had to be evacuated from Gore's Northwoods Gondola last Friday when a hardware misalignment shut down the lift shortly after 9 a.m.
Just three cabins were involved, and there were no injuries. The lift was running again within two hours.
This is the first lift evacuation from the Northwoods Gondola since the lift was installed in the late 1990s.
Phil Johnson can be reached at [email protected].