Weibrecht Olympics spent at home this time – The Daily Gazette
Andrew Weibrecht is New York State’s most accomplished male alpine skier. The Lake Placid native, now 35, won Olympic medals at the 2010 and 2014 Games in the Super G. event, and retired after the 2018 Games.
So what are his plans for the Olympics which begin next week?
He will be at home watching the games on TV, like all of us.
Will he miss being there in person?
“Not at all,” Weibrecht said recently.
Although he is now married with three children, Weibrecht may not want to be in the thick of the competition this time around, but many of his former Alpine teammates still are and he has some thoughts on what we will see in the coming days.
Certainly, one thing that attracts a lot of attention is the downhill skiing site. Located in Yanqing, about 45 miles northwest of Beijing, the Olympic tracks were created specifically for the Games and, due to COVID restrictions and protocols, there were not the usual test events of the World Cup which took place there last year. One week before the start of the competition, the runs remain a mystery.
“Nobody saw the classes in person. No one raced there,” Weibrecht said. “We know the area doesn’t get a lot of snow, so all competitions will be on machine-made surfaces. But at the level of international races, it is commonplace now.
However, according to Weibrecht, not all snow is the same.
“The climate there is very dry, and as it is a high desert area, there will probably be gravel and sediment in the snow. It will make the race more technical, which will favor more experienced riders,” Weibrecht said.
On the men’s side, Weibrecht sees U.S. Olympic veterans Travis Ganong and Ryan Cochran-Siegle having a slight advantage among Americans entered in the downhill and Super-G events.
“They’ve been around for a while,” Weibrecht said. “They know how to adapt.”
Weibrecht added: “I’ve always liked speed tracks that people haven’t been to. I was analytical. I liked discovering the course at a run.
In women’s competition, it’s no surprise that Weibrecht likes Mikaela Shiffrin’s chances for the same reason.
“These classes benefit his running style,” Weibrecht said.
Shiffrin, with two Olympic golds and four overall world championships already at 26, is a clear favorite in the slalom and giant slalom competition, and says she also plans to compete in the speed events. If she were to win a medal in the five events she says she wants to run, it would be unprecedented.
Among the emerging American riders who have had great results this winter is Super G and men’s slalom specialist River Radamus, a first-time Olympian who turns 24 during the Games.
The first alpine event will be the men’s downhill on Sunday February 6th.
DIGGINS COULD BE THE FIRST
Elsewhere on the Olympic snow sports menu, much attention is being paid to 30-year-old Jessie Diggins, who won the United States’ first gold medal in cross-country skiing, teaming up with Kikkan Randall, now at the retirement, to win the sprint relay. in 2018.
Diggins had a strong World Cup season this winter and plans to compete in six events this time around. A gold medal in a race would be the first ever in an individual cross-country event by an American
Two-time Olympic champion Jamie Anderson and a pair of 21-year-olds, Chloe Kim and Red Gerard, will defend their 2018 Olympic gold medals in snowboarding events. While all have had good winter seasons so far and are repeat favourites, much of the attention will go to 35-year-old Shaun White, who, then with long red hair, was known as name of “Flying Tomato” when he won the first of his three Olympic gold medals in the halfpipe in 2006. A face of the sport for almost 20 years now, he recently confirmed that he would retire from competition after the Games.
The United States has an outside chance to win its first medal in biathlon with veterans Clare Egan and Susan Dunklee posting strong results in World Cup events this season. Nordic combined, which brought home a medal in the relay and individual gold for Bill Demong of Saranac Lake in Vancouver in 2010, is a long way off a medal this year, as is ski jumping, which has just three first-time Olympians eligible for competition.
In freestyle, Chris Lillis of Pittsford near Rochester has had international success in the past in aerials, while the team’s closest local connection is Union College student Hannah Soar in the moguls event. . It will be the fourth Olympics for former world jumping champion Ashley Caldwell, while freeskiers Nick Goepper in the big air and David Wise in the halfpipe are back Olympic medalists from 2018.
OUT OF THE SNOW
Of course, there is off-snow competition with several Americans among the favorites for gold: Nathan Chen in figure skating; speed skaters Joey Mantia, Erin Jackson and Brittany Bowe; women’s duet and monobob riders Kallie Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor; and the men’s curling team led by John Shuster.
The women’s hockey team is back to defend their 2018 gold medal, while the men’s hockey competition has been diminished by the absence of NHL players.
As usual, the competition will be intense and surprising, and there will undoubtedly be athletes who will become stars, as Andrew Weibrecht did in 2010. But this is a Winter Olympics like no other. Few viewers will see the events in person, and much of the commentary we see on television will be reported, not in person from China, but via electronic feed to reporters based in Connecticut studios.
All hope that COVID does not become the history of the games and that China’s long-standing human rights issues do not overshadow the competition.
If Ryan Cochran-Siegle hasn’t been motivated enough by the Games alone, the competition will mark the 50th anniversary of the gold medal won by his mother Barbara Ann in Sapporo in 1972.
The Cochran family, based in Richmond, Vermont, also includes aunts Marilyn and Lindy, and cousin Jimmy Cochran, who were also Olympic runners.
NO NYSEF THIS YEAR
For the first time in over 40 years, no NYSEF alumni will race for Team USA in China.
The Lake Placid-based winter competition program has had a remarkable record of producing Olympians, starting with Vicki Fleckenstein in the 1970s through Weibrecht and Tommy Biesemeyer in 2018.
The only NYSEF alumnus in the field this time is Northwoods School and University of Vermont graduate Kevin Drury, a ski crosser who competes for Canada.
Contact Phil Johnson at [email protected]
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