If you enjoy skiing, you’ll want to see a Passion for Snow, an hour-long documentary produced by Lisa Densmore Ballard, a Saranac Lake native who frequently writes about hiking and paddling for the AdirondackExplorer.
The movie tells the story of Dartmouth College’s influence on skiing in North America, but it includes several Adirondack connections. » Continue Reading.
For a lot of area athletes, the first half of their international competition schedules are wrapping up. Some will be returning home for some much needed rest and prepare for the second half of their competition tours. Below are some of the results from this past weekend.
Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, N.Y.), Tommy Beisemeyer (Keene, N.Y.): The FIS alpine World Cup series visited Val Gardena-Groeden, Italy, where Weibrecht skied to a 20th place finish in Friday’s, Dec. 16, men’s Super G. Beisemeyer did not finish the race. High winds forced officials to cancel Saturday’s, Dec. 17, 50th running of the famed Saslong Classic downhill. Biathlon
Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.), Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, N.Y.): Hochfilzen, Austria hosted the IBU biathlon World Cup’s third stop of the season. Bailey skied to a 21st place result in Thursday’s, Dec. 15, 10 km event, while Burke was 63rd. Bailey was 25th in Saturday’s 12.5 km pursuit, while Burke did not race. Burke and Cook teamed up with Sara Studebaker (Boise, Idaho) and Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.) in Sunday’s mixed relay and finished 14th. Cook also made her World Cup debut, finishing 60th in Friday’s 7.5 km race and she did not complete Saturday’s 10 km pursuit.
John Napier (Lake Placid, N.Y.): The third stop of the FIBT World Cup bobsled series took the world’s top sliders to Winterberg, Germany where they battled high winds and blowing snow throughout the weekend. Napier drove his two-man sled to a 14th place finish, Saturday, and a 13th place showing in Sunday’s, Dec. 18, four-man event.
Bill Demong (Vermontville, N.Y.): The FIS World Cup Nordic combined series paid a visit to Seefeld, Austria. Partnering with Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, Colo.), Demong finished sixth in Friday’s team sprint event. Saturday, Demong did not qualify out of the jumping round.
Peter Frenette (Saranac Lake, N.Y.): Frenette did not jump this weekend. He’s still awaiting his 2011-’12 season debut.
The holidays are almost here and local world-class athletes were trying to pick up more valuable World Cup points, last weekend, Dec. 9-11, before the break.
Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, N.Y.), Tommy Beisemeyer (Keene, N.Y.): The FIS alpine World Cup series stop in Val d Isere, France was cancelled due to a lack of snow. Weibrecht, Beisemeyer and the rest of the U.S. alpine squad began racing in Val Gardena-Groeden, Italy today, Wednesday, Dec. 14. Biathlon:
Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.), Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, N.Y.): Hochfilzen, Austria played host to last weekend’s IBU biathlon World Cup stop. In Friday’s 10 km sprint, Bailey posted a 14th place result, while Burke was 42nd. During Saturday’s pursuit, Bailey was 17th, while Burke was 47th. Bailey is currently ranked seventh in the series standings. The race weekend wrapped up with the team relay, and Bailey and Burke, along with Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska) and Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.), finished ninth. Meanwhile, Cook made her international debut this season, competing in the IBU Cup event, held in Ridnaun, Italy. She was 59th in Saturday’s 15 km individual race and 36th in Sunday’s 7.5 km sprint.
John Napier (Lake Placid, N.Y.): The FIBT World Cup bobsled series stopped in LaPlagne, France over the weekend. Napier drove his two-man sled to an 11th place finish, Saturday, and a 13th place result during Sunday’s four-man event.
Bill Demong (Vermontville, N.Y.): The FIS World Cup Nordic combined series was in Ramsau, Austria. Demong posted his best World Cup result, 11th, since the Olympic season. He was 14th after the jump and started eighth in the cross country ski.
Peter Frenette (Saranac Lake, N.Y.): Frenette was scheduled to make his FIS Cup debut in Garmisch P., Germany, but that event was cancelled due to weather.
Photo: Val Gardena-Groeden, Italy (Photo provided).
The Lake Placid 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Museum has added another piece to its collection of artifacts from last February’s 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, Andrew Weibrecht’s men’s Super-G bronze medal.
“The medal was turned over for display and for safe keeping between appearances,” noted museum curator Liz Defazio. “It’s so nice for these athletes to have a place where they can share their accomplishments with others… sort of their home away from home.”
Weibrecht’s bronze medal helped spark the U.S. alpine ski team to a record eight medals in Vancouver. Overall, the U.S. Olympic squad celebrated its best Olympics ever, claiming the overall medal count with 37. Nicknamed the “Warhorse” on the international alpine ski tour, Weibrecht began skiing at the age of five at Whiteface Mountain and began racing with the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) program by the time he was 10. He had only been on the World Cup circuit since 2006 and Vancouver was his first Olympic Winter Games.
There are quite a number of artifacts on display in the museum from the 2010 winter games donated by several of the 12 area athletes who competed, as well as coaches and officials. The artifacts include race gear, Opening Ceremony clothing, official U.S. Olympic team clothing, event tickets, programs and pins.
Lake Placid’s 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Museum features the largest collection of winter Olympic artifacts outside the International Olympic Committee’s museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. Some of the artifacts include the first Winter Olympic medal awarded, gold in 1924 in Chamonix, France, to Lake Placid native and speedskater Charles Jewtraw, equipment worn by U.S. goalie Jim Craig during the 1980 winter games, parade clothing from the 1932 winter games, athletes participation medals and Olympic medals from every winter Olympics.
Admission to the museum is $6 for adults and $4 for juniors and seniors. Admission is also included when purchasing an Olympic Sites Passport. The Passport gives visitors access to each of ORDA’s Olympic venues—from Whiteface Mountain to the Olympic Sports Complex and everything in between. Sold for $29 at the ORDA Store and all of our ticket offices, the Passport saves you time, money, and gets you into the venues at a good value. For more information about the Olympic Sites Passport, log on to http://www.whiteface.com/summer/plan/passport.php.
Photo: Andrew Weibrecht’s Super-G Bronze Medal. Courtesy 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Museum, Lake Placid, NY.
March 20th through 23rd, the 2010 US Alpine Championships will be held at Whiteface Mountain. The host town of Lake Placid is prepared to welcome the athletes, including recent Olympians from Vancouver. Olympians competing at the competition include three-time medalist Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, Calif.), 2006 gold medalist Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah) , Steven Nyman (Sundance, Utah), Jimmy Cochran (Keene, N.H.), Will Brandenburg (Spokane, Wash.), Tommy Ford (Bend, Ore.), Nolan Kasper (Warren, Vt.), Alice McKennis (Glenwood Springs, Colo.), Stacey Cook (Mammoth Mountain, Calif.), Leanne Smith (Conway, N.H.), Chelsea Marshall (Pittsfield, Vt.), Hailey Duke (Boise, Idaho), Megan McJames (Park City, Utah), Kaylin Richardson (Edina, Minn.) and Sarah Schleper (Vail, Colo.).
A notable name is missing from this line-up- Lake Placid native Andrew Weibrecht. After winning a bronze medal in the Super G event at Vancouver, Weibrecht dislocated his shoulder. Still, he anticipates being at the event to cheer on his teammates- “It would have been perfect to wrap up my competition year at home, but I’ll still be there to support my teammates and the hundreds of racers from across the country gunning for U.S. bragging rights.”
The US Alpine Championships is an opportunity for young racers as well as seasoned veterans to race for National titles. Whiteface Mountain also hosted the event in 2003, when lack of snow in Alyeska, Alaska motivated the Olympic Regional Development Authority to pick up the races.
It was a thrill to watch Andrew Weibrecht nail the Super Giant Slalom today. Superstition prohibited us from saying so, but when we saw the first two skiers skitter over an icy, bumpy, rutted course, we thought, This is Andrew’s day.
Third out of the starting box, Andrew flew down the hill. Own it, Whiteface: You can be one scrapey wind-scoured slope. They say anyone who learns to ski on Whiteface can ski anywhere. None of us can ski like Andrew, but we’re all a little tougher for that mountain. So, congratulations, Whiteface, NYSEF coaches, Lake Placid and Weibrecht family! Most of all, congratulations Andrew! You earned it.
It’s still huge to see his name on the list. He’s a great guy and makes us proud. It’s hard to explain why people who have nothing to do with these kids’ success can feel that way, but in a small town you just do. Six athletes who have grown up in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake are going to the 2010 games in Vancouver, and so are three who moved here at a young age, as are some luge veterans who’ve lived in Lake Placid so long it’s home. In a region of .00004 percent of the national population that is sending 4 percent of our Olympic team, the degrees of separation are considerably foreshortened. These inspiring young men and women are neighbors and friends. Or we know their moms or dads, or see them skiing at Avalanche Lake, or listen to them play mandolin in the bandshell. We may have taught them history, drank their homemade cider or been next door when one of them (whom we will call “War Horse”) broke his leg in some sort of homemade man-size slingshot.
We thought Andrew would be the last of the Adirondack contenders to be named, but 16-year-old Ashley Caldwell also made the Olympic cut yesterday; she will compete in aerials for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. She moved to Lake Placid three years ago to pursue her sport, and we’ll cheer just as loudly for her.
Even athletes who train or compete in Lake Placid gain a local following. My friend’s daughter will be rooting for the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team, several of whose members coached her at hockey camp last summer. The ladies also have fans at Lisa G’s.
Saranac Lake is sometimes obscured by Lake Placid’s 1932 and 1980 Olympian shadow, but it too has been known to send bobsledders, skaters, skiers and hockey players to world competition. This year four Saranac Lakers are heading to the winter Olympics: 21-year-old luger Chris Mazdzer, 17-year-old ski jumper Peter Frenette, 27-year-old Tim Burke of Paul Smiths (Biathlon) and 29-year-old Billy Demong of Vermontville (Nordic Combined). Tupper Lake also takes pride in Peter Frenette, who has many relatives there and who debuted on skis at age 2 at Big Tupper. We in Saranac Lake claim kinship with Billy and Tim because they attended and skied for Saranac Lake High School, plus they got early lessons here, at Dewey Mountain Recreation Area.
I love the fact that luger Mark Grimette is 39 and his silver-medal doubles partner Brian Martin is 36 and they still have wheels (wrong metaphor, but they are serious competitors). Vancouver will be their fourth Olympics.
My other favorite Olympic friendship story is that of Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid (Biathlon) and Tim and Billy (pictured). These three have skied together since they were little, and the love of their sport has taken them around the world. Haley Johnson of Lake Placid (Biathlon) joined that pack when she began traveling with Lowell and Tim in high school.
Kris Cheney Seymour runs the Dewey Mountain Youth Ski League in Saranac Lake and is a top-notch skier and coach. He grew up in Saranac Lake and has long known Billy, Tim, Lowell and Haley as a coach and friend. He is one of many coaches, mentors and sports-support staff around here who have a greater claim on community pride. When people joke that Dewey should be called “the Other Olympic Mountain” for its early role in so many good skiers’ lives, Kris says there’s something to it. Once, after a particularly steep hill on the World Cup circuit in Europe, Tim e-mailed Kris and commented that Dewey prepared him well.
We might take it for granted that so many kids here skate, ski and slide. But as Kris often points out, these sports can change lives. Not only are they fun, apparently they can take you places. Even if they don’t take you to the Olympics, plenty of locals have gone to college on their sport and competed against some of the best athletes in the world.
So, go Andrew! Go Billy, Lowell, Tim, Haley, Peter, Chris, Ashley, Mark, Brian, Bengt Walden (luge), John Napier (bobsled) and Erin Hamlin (luge)! And you too, speed skater Trevor Marsicano of Ballston Spa and Plattsburgh native Anders Johnson, who trained at Lake Placid’s speedskating and ski jumping facilities! And go U.S. women’s hockey team! Have a great time in Vancouver.
Photograph of (l to r) Lowell Bailey, Billy Demong and Tim Burke as young skiers, courtesy of the Demong family