LAKE PLACID - Northwood School Headmaster Ed Good began rattling off a list of alumni who had competed in the Winter Olympics during the past 50 years. The top alum on his list was Andrew Weibrecht, Class of 2003, who earned his second Olympic medal, a silver, in the super-giant slalom event in Sochi, Russia on Feb. 16.
"Andrew maintains a long line of Northwood Olympians in skiing and ice hockey," Good said. "We have a silver medalist who coaches our women's ice hockey team, Andrea Kilbourne-Hill. And Andrew married into the Rand family. Jay Rand (Weibrecht's wife's father) is Northwood Class of '68 and is an Olympian himself. And Joe Lamb is the Class of '73. He's an Olympian."
By the time Northwood celebrated its centennial in June 2005, there were so many alumni on the rosters of Olympic and National Hockey League teams that school officials erected a sports hall of fame called the James H. Fullerton Wall of Recognition. The inaugural group of inductees included all the Northwood School graduates who were Olympians or members of the National Hockey League, and there are 19 Winter Olympians on the wall spanning 1952 to 2014.
Northwood School Headmaster Ed Good (News photo — Andy Flynn)
"From Northwood School's perspective, the continuing success of an Olympian who graduates from this school adds to this legacy, and we talk about it a lot," Good said. "Northwood is Lake Placid."
Northwood School is a coeducational, private boarding and day school serving students in grade 9 through the post-graduate year. It was established in 1905 by the Lake Placid Club, which was responsible for establishing Lake Placid as a winter resort during the same year. Lake Placid Club founder Melvil Dewey's son, Godfrey, was in large part responsible for bringing the 1932 Olympic Winter Games to Lake Placid, so Northwood School has had some connection to the Olympics since that time.
"This history is in the fabric of the town and the school," Good said.
As for Weibrecht, Good said he remembers the Olympian's days as a Northwood student very well.
"He was very, very bright, very well organized and highly disciplined, which you have to be if you have that Olympic mindset," Good said. "He's very tough, mentally, which he's demonstrated now over two Olympiads."
After Weibrecht won his first medal in the super-G, a bronze at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, he came home to sign autographs at a party at The Cottage restaurant, owned, along with the Mirror Lake Inn, by his parents Ed and Lisa Weibrecht.
"As we got closer to The Cottage, Caroline Lussi, Serge's wife and a Northwood parent, came over to me and she gave me a big hug," Good said. "She said, 'Ed, I want you to know that I think that you and Northwood are as responsible for Andrew getting the bronze medal as anyone.' And I was shocked. I said, 'Caroline, I was never on the slopes with him.' She said, 'No. Because you make them ski in flat light, he learned how to do it in flat light when the sun went down in Vancouver.'"
Good said he's not so sure that was the reason for Weibrecht's Vancouver success, but he's proud of Northwood's role in shaping the lives and athletic careers of its students.
"We like to think that the preparation we give kids goes beyond the classroom," Good said. "It goes beyond the ski slopes or the ice arenas, and it has to do with the way in which a young person learns to comport themselves in the world, the way in which they deal with their many victories and their many defeats."
Weibrecht overcame his injuries between the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, in the face of public skepticism and the loss of his U.S. ski team sponsorship. Good said it's a testament to the skier's fortitude, character and makeup, and it reminded the headmaster of a former coach's lesson.
"I had a mentor and a coach say to me in my developing years that beyond physical qualities of strength, endurance and grace, there was another component to athletic success, and that's metal toughness. And Andrew epitomizes mental toughness," Good said.
Good closely watched Weibrecht's interviews after he won the silver medal and was impressed by the Olympian's humble answers.
"He didn't mind saying how surprised he was," Good said. "He never mentioned how he felt losing his sponsorship. He talked a little bit about the injuries that he's dealt with. But what he's been through in the last couple of years, a lesser person ... might have even dropped out and we'd never had the chance to see him win the other medal."
In Good's eyes, Weibrecht has has not only demonstrated that he's a world-class skier; he's proven himself to be a world-class gentleman.
"We're very proud of the way in which he conducts himself in the world," Good said. "He's a great ambassador for the North Country and a great ambassador for his family and the school, and we couldn't be more proud of him."
While the attention from Weibrecht's latest Olympic feat causes a buzz that makes the phone ring, Good keeps the memories of his former student's work at Northwood close to his heart, for it's the skier's grounded approach to life that also impresses him.
"Andrew never really expected, wanted, asked for, courted any special consideration," Good said. "He teased me when he saw me at the signing four years ago," Good said. "He said, 'I remember that you kept me home from the mountain one day and made me do my calculus homework that I didn't do.' That's the kind of guy he is. He understands how to keep things in perspective."