As Andrew Weibrecht ’09 stood on the medal podium in Vancouver with a bronze medal from the Super Giant “Super G” Slalom competition hanging around his neck, he fought back tears while cheers echoed throughout the stadium.
“To stand there and see this whole crowd of people and everybody cheering and to watch the U.S. flag raised, it was a really cool experience,” he said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “The wave of emotion was obviously something more intense than anything I’ve ever experienced before and maybe ever will again.”
The Lake Placid, N.Y. native skied his way to an astonishing third place finish in the Super G on Saturday in a time of 1:30.65, according to the NY State Olympic Regional Developing Authority.
“It’s been my life goal,” Weibrecht said. “It’s what I’ve been working for the past 10 years [and] to finally make the Olympics is a huge accomplishment for me and I was thrilled to be here.”
Even for the most experienced skiers, the Super G race is known as one of the most rigorous alpine events because it integrates both downhill and slalom racing. Skiers have to race between widely-spaced gates like in the giant slalom, but they go at much faster speeds and make fewer turns.
“The Super G has always been one of my favorites,” he said. “It’s got a little bit of everything.”
Weibrecht, 24, began skiing at age five. Coming from a family of skiers piqued his interest in the sport, but it was his older brother, Jonathan, who influenced him to begin racing. Weibrecht’s younger brother, Ethan, is also a skier.
“Both my brothers have been a huge source of inspiration for me and have pushed me to be better in everything I do,” he said. “[They] bring out the best in myself.”
Weibrecht began race training when he was only 10-years-old, and in 2003, he earned a spot on the U.S. development team. From 2004 to 2006, he raced in the Junior World Cup, earning a bronze medal in the Super G in 2006.
Coming to Dartmouth, Weibrecht said he was unsure of whether he wanted to continue skiing, but that the College’s atmosphere motivated him to keep racing for the U.S. team.
“I decided to come to [Dartmouth] for the fall and was really enjoying my experience at school, and it really revitalized my passion for skiing,” he said. “Dartmouth has been a huge part of my life and I attribute a lot of my success to it.”
At Dartmouth, because of the flexibility of the D-Plan, Weibrecht is able to take classes during the offseason to focus on training during the regular season.
He is pursuing an earth sciences degree and plans to graduate with the Class of 2015.
Before the Olympics, Weibrecht’s breakout performance was at the 2007 World Cup in Beaver Creek, Colo., when he came back from 53rd place to finish 10th in the downhill ski race.
“I think that I have been building up toward really good results,” he said. “I had strong results in the World Cup all season, but I hadn’t broken through to that podium finish.”
In Vancouver, Weibrecht had the opportunity to share the podium with fellow U.S. teammate Bode Miller, who earned the silver medal.
“It’s always sweeter when you have someone to share it with,” he said. “That’s part of what made it so special to me, that it wasn’t just my victory it was our victory.”
Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway went away with the gold, finishing only .28 seconds ahead of Miller and .31 seconds ahead of Weibrecht.
Weibrecht’s finish was also a historic moment for the U.S. Ski Team, as his medal helped to break the team’s previous medal record at the Olympics.
“To get a medal on the day we surpassed our previous record of five medals it’s incredible,” he said. “It’s more than I could ask, to have one of those medals that is going to go down in the history of our team.”
After competing in his last event on Sunday the men’s super combined and placing in a career-best 11th place, Weibrecht said in the interview that the Games have been an incredible experience.
“My goal this year was just to come to the Olympics, and if anybody had told me how I would have done here, I wouldn’t have believed them,” he said. “It’s [been] a huge honor to be able to represent the US in an event like this.”