Olympic medalist Weibrecht ready to take on North America

18 November 2010 05:55

Andrew Weibrecht doesn’t sleep with his Olympic medal … but he did for a little while.

The American super G bronze medalist finds relief in the fact that the physical evidence of his Olympic success is now safely on display in his parents’ hotel in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“It’s pretty cool, they made a shadow box for it. I don’t have to worry about losing it anymore.” Weibrecht said from the base of Vail where he was training with the rest of the U.S. Team on Wednesday before heading to his first World Cup stop of the season next week in Lake Louise.

As for keeping track of his medal, there was a short phase following the Olympic races when Weibrecht would get a scare.

“I had a couple of times right after it happened. I’d wake up and say, ‘Oh my God. Where’s my medal?” So he took to holding it while he slept … until he passed it on to more reliable hands.

“It’s good it’s with my parents now,” he said.

When asked what his greatest experience has been as a result of his Olympic success, Weibrecht lists off the big things: landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated, being recognized in the middle of Major League Baseball Games, getting to meet President Barack Obama.

“It was just a handshake,” Weibrecht said of his visit with the big man at the White House. “They were heading out somewhere, late for something. I think there was some more important stuff going on that day … running the country and stuff.”

Admitting that he is normally a “low-key” kind of guy, Weibrecht had never been so enthusiastically whisked off from one event and appearance to the next following his medal.

“It was definitely kind of a whirlwind after the races were over,” he said. “There’s just so much more stuff than I was used to. All of a sudden everything was in my face and busy."

In the midst of all the attention, what was truly touching to Weibrecht was the outpouring of admiration and recognition he received in Lake Placid, where the town organized a parade to welcome him home.

“Going to my hometown, it was awesome they could get so excited for my success,” he said. “As a town, it was surprising. It was a little awkward to have a parade in my honor, standing in a fire truck waving. But it was really special that everyone could get that excited about it.”

A damper fell on the end of Weibrecht’s season, however – right after the Games – when a crash in the Kvitjell downhill resulted in a torn rotator cuff and labrum in his right shoulder and required surgery and months of rehab.

Though he says it’s been a long recovery period and he still feels a twinge of pain when he moves his arm a certain way, Weibrecht is feeling good about his training and launching into the season … particularly racing in North America. Though he had only landed one top 10 on the World Cup before his Olympic bronze (in the 2007 Beaver Creek downhill), Weibrecht doesn’t feel the need to prove anything to himself or anyone else. He’s following the same motto this season as he always has.

“It’s been a long summer. But I’m coming back and I’m psyched. I want to go in and ski the best I can. I try not to put any expectations on myself. Hopefully I can ski fast. I’m feeling good now, comfortable with my speed, comfortable on my skis. I’m psyched to go to Lake Louise and really get the wind in the face and get on some hard snow.”

There are also some simple comforts that come with competing on one’s own continent.

“North America is just nice because everything is the same. It’s away from home but you’re not in a foreign area. Your cell phone works and your time change isn’t so much, you can talk to your family and friends. Also being able to eat the food we’re familiar with and not sleeping in twin beds pushed together. It’s all the little things like that that make it really nice for us to compete here,” he said. “Another thing is to have the support of the home crowd. Whether we’re at Beaver Creek or Lake Louise, people are psyched to see North Americans come down. That’s always fun.”

 

by Shauna Farnell/farnell@fisski.com