Weibrecht competes in Pyeongchang as wife goes into labor
JEONGSEON, South Korea (AP) With his wife about to give birth back home in Lake Placid, New York, American skier Andrew Weibrecht felt conflicted about traveling to Asia to test the downhill and super-G course that will be used for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
But with super-G points on the line Sunday and Weibrecht contending for the season-long World Cup title in the discipline, his wife Denja told him to go.
''It was tough but at the same time she was really supportive of it and she really wanted me to do it,'' Weibrecht said after tying for fourth with teammate Travis Ganong in Thursday's opening downhill training session. ''She wanted me to be home but she felt strongly that I come over and see this through.''
Weibrecht got word Thursday that doctors told his wife they need to induce labor.
''We were sure she was going to be late,'' Weibrecht added. ''It's pretty typical the first baby is late. The due date was Saturday. So we just missed it on the wrong side by two days. Obviously I wanted to be there.''
A two-time Olympic medalist in super-G, the 29-year-old Weibrecht is having a breakout season.
While he had excelled at the Olympics - taking bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Games and silver in Sochi two years ago - he had never posted a podium result on the World Cup circuit until finishing third in a super-G in Beaver Creek, Colorado, in December.
Nicknamed the Warhorse for his attacking style, Weibrecht then came second in a super-G on the hallowed Streif course in Kitzbuehel, Austria, last month - and has also posted his best career result in downhill this season.
Weibrecht credits work with his Austria-based mental coach Bernard Payet for an improved approach to races.
Instead of coming in with a gradual approach on training days, Weibrecht now treats every practice session like a race.
''I prepare the same way in the morning, inspect the same, and I take my first run as a race run every single day,'' he said. ''I've started having my best run of the day my first run instead of my third run. It's great to see that improvement but it doesn't translate to racing if you're third effort is your best effort.
''For the first year in my life I race better than I train now,'' Weibrecht added. ''It's been working. ... Seeing the changes in my personality and just my approach and how happy I am with ski racing has been a lot of fun. It's changed a lot.''
In the super-G standings, Weibrecht sits second behind Aksel Lund Svindal, who is out injured for the rest of the season following a crash in Kitzbuehel. Weibrecht is 120 points behind with Kjetil Jansrud next, 144 points behind.
''Obviously that's not the way I wanted to wear the leader's bib. But I'll take it,'' Weibrecht said. ''I just need to stick to the process and keep doing the things that make me ski well. ... But yeah, (the title) would be nice.''
A bronze medalist in super-G at the junior world championships a decade ago, Weibrecht finally feels like his career is coming together the way he intended it to as he prepares to turn 30 next week.
His wife's pregnancy has played a big role.
''It's just been an incredible year. Things like this kind of change your perspective a little bit of what you're working for and what your goals are,'' Weibrecht said. ''It's been a great process for me as an individual. I think one wouldn't have happened without the other.''
After Sunday's race, Weibrecht will hurry home then jet back and forth between Lake Placid and Europe for the rest of the season.
''Pregnancy is one thing,'' he said. ''But having the kid around is another.''
Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf