Weibrecht looks for turnaround at worlds

Lake Placid native Andrew Weibrecht is gearing up for the 42nd FIS Alpine Ski World Championships in Schladming, Austria this week.

The competition kicks off today with women’s super-G and continues Wednesday with men’s super-G. Weibrecht, who took bronze in the super-G at the 2010 Vancouver Games, is expected to race Wednesday and possibly in the downhill race on Saturday.

Whether he enters the downhll competition will be deterined by how his training goes this week, he said.

The Enterprise caught up with Weibrecht by email this past weekend to ask him a few questions about the World Championships.

ADE: How have your experiences skiing at Schladming, Austria been in the past? Is this a mountain that you’ve had success on? Feel confident on?

AW: I’ve trained here a couple times this past year, and we raced here for World Cup finals last season. For the finals, I was having some back issues and hadn’t skied the two weeks before and didn’t finish the super-G, so I have higher hopes for this go around.

ADE: I understand you had been dealing with some illnesses late last year. What were those, and are you fully recovered? If so, when did you start feeling 100 percent again? Do you feel close to breaking through on some of this season’s struggles?

AW: I had some sort of virus that really just took me out of the game for really the first half of the season. It actually all started about a week before the first races in Lake Louise, Canada (in late November) and then seemed to go away. But with the travel to Europe and everything, it came back hard and really put me down for quite a while. I think that I actually started feeling better around Christmas. However, the biggest issue since then is all the fitness that I lost from being inactive for so long. This, to me, has been the toughest part. I think that things are starting to come back around, and I feel like my skiing is good enough to do some good stuff. Hopefully, I can log some of the results that I’ve been missing in the first part of the season.

ADE: On January 25, you posted on Facebook that it was a disappointing day, but that you had some of your best skiing in awhile. Can you expand on that?

AW: That was the Kitzbuhel super-G day (in Austria), and I was very disappointed because I didn’t finish the race when I felt like I was having a really solid run up to that point. Looking at the analysis later on, it turned out that I did have three-quarters of a really good run. Although it was good to know that I was skiing fast again, (the) three-quarters (only) got me a pat on the back and an “atta boy.”

ADE: In recent races, you’ve had a number of DNFs. Have you been able to pinpoint the cause of those? Fix the problem?

AW: I think these DNFs are in large part (due) to the training and racing that I missed while I was sick and the fitness that I lost then as well. As with most guys on this level, the margins for error are so small that when some part of the total “system” is out of whack then everything can go south pretty quickly. I’ve gotten an opportunity to get some good days of training in this past week, so hopefully that will help to fill the gap and I can start firing on all cylinders and with any luck start skiing around all the gates.

ADE: Obviously, there is always a lot of media attention on the Olympics. However in the U.S., the World Championships don’t garner as much attention. What do the World Championships mean to you as a ski racer?

AW: Right now, to me, it means a lot. … I’m in reboot mode at the moment and I’m looking to make my mark because of everything that has passed this season. In a more general sense, I think that the world champs are a big deal to everyone. Everyone is gunning and hoping to pull it together for their country. I will say that the Olympics do seem to have a grander vibe than the previous world champs that I’ve been to, but this is a championship event at one of Austria’s favorite venues so I’m sure that it will not be lacking in (excitment).

ADE: Can you describe the atmosphere surrounding World Championships?

AW: I think that this one will be crazy. I’ve heard rumors that they are expecting (tens of thousands of) spectators per day and there is a stadium that you ski into at the bottom that seats 30,000-plus. It should be fully over the top and an awesome event as a spectator and a racer.

ADE: Several of your teammates, both on the men’s and women’s side, have had some impressive races this season. As a teammate and “spectator,” are there any races that you are looking forward to at World Championships? Any races people should pay special attention to?

AW: I think that they all should be exciting for the U.S. We have really strong teams on both the men’s and women’s sides, and I think that it should be pretty exciting all around. In particular, I’m psyched to watch the men’s GS because after training with Ted (Ligety) earlier this week I was blown away by his skiing, and I think it should be pretty fun to watch him and Marcel Hirscher battle it out.

ADE: What are your goals for the World Championships?

AW: I just want to ski well and consistent throughout the week and see what happens.