Olympian Andrew Weibrecht reflects, looks ahead
LAKE PLACID — Olympian Andrew Weibrecht officially announced his retirement from alpine skiing recently. And although his competitive career that included winning two Olympic medals is over, the Lake Placid native has plenty on his plate.
On Friday at his family’s resort, the Mirror Lake Inn, Weibrecht spoke at a press conference attended by a half-dozen members of local media outlets to reflect on his career and talk about some of his upcoming plans as he transitions from being a full time elite alpine athlete to a husband, parent and beyond.
Obviously, topping the agenda is spending more time with his wife Denja, their daughter Addy and their new baby, who’s expected to arrive this summer. Weibrecht is also becoming more involved with operations at the Mirror Lake Inn. He’s on the path to getting a guiding license, and in the fall, it’s back to Dartmouth College for one more year to complete his bachelors degree in earth sciences.
Weibrecht, who is recovering from another knee surgery done in April, said right now, it’s fairly easy stepping away from competition, but the reality of his retirement will really sink in when the rest of the United States Alpine Team begins its preparations for the upcoming season.
“The transition has been interesting,” Weibrecht said. “It hasn’t been that different from most springs for me because normally right now, we take this time off. I think once it comes to the time when I start to realize I’m not getting back into the training mode, I’m not spending 4 to 6 hours a day in the gym, on my bike, and I’m not getting ready for a trip down to South America, or New Zealand, I think that’s when it will really strike home.”
Weibrecht said he has always loved training and preparing for a new ski season, but added he definitely won’t miss the rigorous schedule that comes along with it, and he’s especially happy not having to travel across the globe from race to race.
“When you put a pros and cons list together, and the cons list is about 10 times longer than the pros list — the biggest one is the travel,” the Lake Placid native continued. “Even from a young age, I loved being here so much that it was tough when I would go away and just live in a hotel room for six, seven weeks. That’s something that I’ve never really enjoyed that much. The training is exhausting. The schedule is really tough and that’s something that I’m not going to miss.”
One thing, however, Weibrecht will miss is his fellow competitors, noting “All my friends go to the Olympics.” The three-time Olympian added, ” I’m sure as soon as the season starts and guys are gearing up, and Beaver Creek’s coming around, and the competitive season starts I’m sure I’ll get nostalgic about it.”
Weibrecht first skied as a 2-year-old, started learning the sport and began racing at age 5 with the New York Ski Education Foundation, and eventually became a member of the U.S. Ski Team at age 16. At age 20, Weibrecht competed in his first World Cup race, and 12 years later, the 32-year-old can look back on an up-and-down that included an Olympic bronze in 2010 at Vancouver and silver medal from the 2014 Sochi Winter Games with great satisfaction. He’s also walking away from the sport with a trip World Cup podium at one of alpine skiing’s most revered courses — Kitzbuhel — where he claimed a Super G silver medal.
“Although I didn’t necessarily accomplish everything I wanted to in my career, it was a great career and if I did it all over again, I’m sure I’d have the exact same experience,” he said. “There’s a couple moments that are really huge for me. Obviously, the Sochi Olympics because at that point I was fairly close to retirement and I was starting to think in that direction and my body was bad and I was trying to figure out my priorities then, that day was such a transformative day for my career. It revitalized it and probably added another four years on to my career and some of my best races.”
Weibrecht pointed out that he would have loved to get that Olympic gold, and it would been great to win a World Cup race, but then again, he was racing alongside some of the most remarkable athletes that alpine skiing has ever seen.
“Being able to stand on the podium in Kitzbuhel was a dream that I think every alpine racer has and to be able to do that with two of the guys that are arguably some of the best racers … was incredible,” he said. “I raced during an era when I think, arguably it was some of the best guys who have ever, ever speed raced on the World Cup circuit. The number of guys that will go down as the greatest in the sport while I was racing — there’s a lot of them. It’s tough to win races. It’s not easy, but when you get fifth in a different era, maybe that’s as good as a win. Who knows.”
Although Weibrecht has stepped away from the competitive life, he’s not walking away from the sport, explaining he’ll be involved with NYSEF and he’ll also keep track of alpine skiing on a global level. In fact, someday he just may be rooting for his children as they shred down the hill.
“Of course skiing has been a huge part of my life since I was 2, so I don’t think I’ll pull the plug on it just yet,” he said. “Eventually I’ll probably go travel. I’d love to catch a few World Cups. I still have friends that are racing and have people to cheer for. I’m sure as my kids get older, provided that they’re into skiing, I’d love to take them to some of the places where I’ve been and just kind of pass that generational experience down to them.”