LAKE PLACID - Lake Placid native Andrew Weibrecht is looking forward to a healthy start to his World Cup season, which kicked off Sunday, Nov. 25 in Lake Louise, Alberta.
Weibrecht, who placed 19th in the super-G opener, has been battling a series of injuries since winning the super-G bronze medal at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.
Since that time, he has injured both shoulders and his ankle. He first injured his shoulder prior to the Vancouver Olympics, and had to stop skiing after aggravating it during the Games. In January 2011, Weibrecht suffered a dislocated left shoulder while training slalom in Hinterreit, Austria prior to the annual post-Christmas downhill in Bormio, Italy. That injury cost him the rest of the season.
The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward/AP?Photo
Andrew Weibrecht of Lake Placid speeds down the hill during the men’s World Cup super-G event Sunday, Nov. 25 in Lake Louise, Alberta. Weibrecht placed 19th.
Most recently, he had ankle surgery in the spring to fix a nagging injury that bothered him throughout last season.
But this season, Weibrecht says he is feeling healthy, and is hoping to put all that behind and return to the form that put him on the podium at the Olympics.
He said that is something that applies to the men's team as a whole.
"I think we have a lot of guys that are coming off of injuries and guys that are healthy for the first time in a long time, so I'm really optimistic about our strength as a whole team," Weibrecht said. "I think that we're in a good place. Obviously, the tech team, they've had a couple of races and they've performed really well. I think top to bottom as a whole team, we're really strong and I think that the speed team will be pretty strong this year too because we've had a lot of injuries the last couple of years. Pretty much everybody on the team has been injured at least once a year. It's nice to see everyone healthy again."
Although most of the team is healthy, there is at least one skier who is still recovering from an injury. Bode Miller is expected to miss at least a couple races to start this season and maybe more because of a knee injury that ended his season last winter.
For the downhill and super-G skiers, the season kicked off in Lake Louise, Alberta. The downhill race was Saturday, Nov. 24, followed by super-G on Sunday.
The slalom and giant slalom skiers opened their seasons in October with a strong start. American Ted Ligety took first in the giant slalom race in Soelden, Sweden, winning the race by 2.75 seconds. That was the largest margin of victory in World Cup giant slalom in 34 years.
Weibrecht focuses on downhill and super-G, which is his strength. Besides making the podium in the Olympics in super-G, Weibrecht has also qualified for the top 25 World Cup finals in 2010 and 2012 in that discipline. He also had the Americans' top finish in the super-G at the World Cup race last December in Beaver Creek, Colo.
The U.S. men's team travels to Beaver Creek after the World Cup in Lake Louise, then heads to Europe. For Weibrecht, starting in North America is a great way to begin the season, in part because he's had some success there.
"It's really nice to kind of start here," he said. "It's comfortable. We know the hills, we know the area. So, for us, it's a nice boost right at the beginning of the season."
Weibrecht said he hopes to crack the top 15 in the super-G World Cup rankings this season. He was 23rd in super-G last season, which qualified him for the finals. He'd also like to move into the top 30 in downhill, an event which he has struggled with in recent years.
"This year, one of my goals is to get my downhill back up to speed where it was a couple of years ago," he said. "I'd like to get my downhill where it was the Olympic year basically."