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Life on the margins
January 28, 2014 - Chris Knight
Just after 8:30 a.m. Monday morning I had the chance to interview alpine skier Andrew Weibrecht via phone from Solden, Austria, where he's been training.
It was less than 24 hours after the Lake Placid native was nominated to the U.S. men's alpine team that will compete in Sochi.
At one point during the 20-minute interview, I asked him to bring me back to his Olympic-bronze-medal-winning run during the super-G at the 2010 Vancouver games.
What did he do right that day to find the podium?
"It’s just ski racing," he said simply. "The margins are so small that the difference between a really good result and a poor result are so tiny, that I got on the right side of a small margin that day. Others days I’ve seen on the other side of it. A lot of it is just getting a little bit of luck at the right time and always believing in yourself."
Weibrecht, nicknamed the "Warhorse," has a built a reputation as a hard-charging, aggressive skier who's willing to push as close to the margin as possible to get that extra speed. Before he won bronze in Vancouver, he was best known for a hair-raising descent of the Birds of Prey downhill run at Beaver Creek, Colo. during a 2007 World Cup. See it here.
In the lead up to Sochi, the storyline surrounding Weibrecht has focused on his battles with injuries, illness and inconsistency since Vancouver. He's had four surgeries (one on each shoulder, two on an ankle). He contracted a virus at the start of last season. He suffered a concussion and injured his shin in a crash in Lake Louise early this season. Weibrecht has yet to find the World Cup podium since the 2010 Olympics, and has only made the top 10 once.
He has been asked a lot lately about the challenges of the last few years, and I was sorry to have to make him spell it all out one more time, but he did so willingly and, I thought, in a way that was brutally honest.
"(Winning the bronze medal at the Olympics) happened and it was such a great thing, but after a while I was a little bit lost because I didn’t know where to take things after that," he said. "It was sort of the unattainable goal, and all of a sudden it was there. I didn’t really know what to do next, and that compounded with the injuries led to a weird time in my life where I was trying to figure things out."
As you'll read in an upcoming Enterprise profile of Weibrecht, the 27-year-old (he'll turn 28 on Feb. 10) feels like he's in a good place now, is relatively healthy and is having fun again. The timing couldn't be better.
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Andrew Weibrecht (Photo - U.S. Ski Team)