Weibrecht Makes Olympic Debut, Wins Bronze

Weibrecht, a first-time Olympian from Lake Placid, New York, shocked everyone by winning bronze in today’s super G (Bode got silver). Skiing's online intern grew up with Weibrecht—and used Facebook to track him down for an interview last week.

The last time I skied with Andrew Weibrecht, the most serious competition was who made it down first in the line of groms following our coach down New York’s Whiteface Mountain. I “retired” from ski racing when I was 11 years old, but Weibrecht stuck with it—a smart choice, considering he’s in Vancouver right now, representing the U.S. in the men’s downhill and super G.

Andrew and I were never close friends, but our paths crossed on occasion. Weibrecht’s hometown, Lake Placid, New York, is small-town America: My next-door neighbor trained with him until he joined the U.S. Ski Team at 16, while her sister took his brother to our prom. When I heard through the hometown grapevine that Weibrecht made his first Olympic team, I did a little Facebook stalking to reconnect (as journalists do these days). I spoke to him by phone last week, after he’d checked out the Olympic downhill course at Whistler and before his whole family arrived in town to watch his Olympic debut.

Have you been hearing from lots of “old friends” like me since you made the Olympic team? I’m just happy to hear from everyone again. It’s been really cool, I’ve gotten a lot of support from everybody.

How was it to go home and get a big sendoff before the Olympics? Did you get out for a few runs on Whiteface? It was awesome having everybody there, and being able to celebrate with everybody that supported me and feel the support that I still get from the community that I grew up in. I haven’t been up [on Whiteface] this year. I’ve been doing a lot of rehab and trying to put the pieces back together right now. I had a bad crash in Austria a few weeks ago.

Being on the U.S. Ski Team, it’s in your job description to make the Olympics. What was it like trying to live up to that expectation this season? This year was kind of stressful. It was tough—we’re racing against each other instead of racing as a team because we needed results above the next guy to qualify [for the Olympics]. It was a relief when that was over and to have that camaraderie back. It took some of the fun out of racing in general.

Who’s more well known in the skiing community, you or your girlfriend, Denja Rand, who won the Lange Girl Contest for 2009 with more than 63,000 votes?
I think she definitely brings my level up, for sure. [The team] all thought it was pretty cool. Skiing is a pretty small community so it was great she could get a cool gig like that.

How is training going up at Whistler? It’s good, we got on the course and got a feel for it. I’m just sticking with what works. I found a new pace this year, a new level of consistency. Downhill and super G are definitely my two big events.

Have you gotten any advice from veterans on the U.S. Ski Team to help you stay focused at the Olympics? The message that everyone gave me was about how much crazier in general everything is with the whole atmosphere and the amount of media. They’ve definitely been really helpful. We’ve done a ton of media stuff recently. We’ve had a few days where it’s six hour media days, either video or print for media stuff. Just because it’s an Olympic year we’ve done more of that. It’s been overwhelming with the amount of media that we’ve had.

Want more of the media frenzy? Read more about Weibrecht from USAToday and check out these videos of the thrills and tumbles he’s experienced over the years on the Birds of Prey World Cup course in Beaver Creak, Colorado. Weibrecht finished 21st in the men’s downhill on February 15, and is ranked 41st overall in the World Cup standings, 22nd in downhill and 18th in super G. Follow Weibrecht on Twitter at twitter.com/aweibrecht.


Bahrke tears up the course at Cypress Mountain on February 13.Ready to RideStanding at the top of the course at Cypress Mountain on that rainy night, Bahrke decided to go for broke.“I had such a good feeling in the start gate,” she says. “I qualified in sixth place and I was so mad at myself—I did not work these last four years to get sixth place, so I just pushed out [of the start] like I wanted it.”For me, watching NBC from the couch at home, her run looked like a winner, or close to it. Bahrke thought otherwise.“I went big off the top air, and I thought I made a big mistake and I was really upset at that point but I knew I skied the middle section like I’d been training and just let it rip,” she remembers. “I went really big off the bottom air and finished great. I thought I’d made a significant mistake on the first air, but it turned out you couldn’t see it from the bottom. I got to the bottom and looked at the coaches and they were going insane.”

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Bahrke embraces Kearney after her gold-medal run.Team FirstOne of the challengers was teammate Heather McPhie, who fell on course and tumbled in the standings. Bharke was waiting at the bottom with a hug.It’s easy to offer support from the top, but Bahrke had more hugs for Kearney after her gold-medal run, knocking her teammate off-balance with her enthusiasm.“I whispered—well, probably not whispered but yelled—you just won the Olympics! I didn’t know what the judges were going to do. I said if they didn’t reward her for it, it was ridiculous,” Bahrke says.

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