Winter Olympics Journal

February 20, 2010 3:04 AM

Lake Placid's Weibrecht right at home at 2010 Games

andrew-weib.jpgWHISTLER, B.C. -- Andrew Weibrecht is not just from Lake Placid. He's from Lake Placid.

Me too. I've covered four Olympics, and Friday at the 2010 Olympics was a day to remember. Weibrecht, 24, won an Olympic bronze medal Friday in men's super-G, a surprise to everyone but his own team.

Lots of people move to Lake Placid to train for the Games. But he's one of about a dozen home-grown Lake Placid athletes here, likely the most the small, northern New York town has ever sent to a single Games.

When Weibrecht won, I got goosebumps. He's the first homegrown Lake Placid Olympic medalist since goalie Pete Sears won silver with the U.S. hockey team in 1972.

(For those sticklers-for-detail, Jimmy Shea's 2002 gold skeleton medal doesn't count, because Shea did not grow up in Lake Placid, host to the 1932 and 1980 Winter Games.)

Many countries have "houses" here -- Swiss House, Norway House -- to host visitors a long way from home. Lake Placid must be the only town to have a house.

Lake Placid Friendship House exploded into cheers this afternoon when Weibrecht's bronze was secured, right behind Bode Miller's silver and Aksel Svindal's gold. If Weibrecht were staying in the Athletes' Village -- he and his alpine teammates are holed up in a slopeside condo -- he'd find himself in familiar company.

Thirty years after it hosted the Games, the small town has produced a bounty of Olympians who either grew up in Lake Placid or its surrounding towns.

Besides Weibrecht, there's biathletes Haley Johnson and Lowell Bailey, both from Lake Placid along with Tim Burke, from nearby Paul Smiths; Vermontville's Bill Demong, a nordic combined athlete; luger Chris Madzder and ski jumper Peter Frenette of Saranac Lake and bobsled driver John Napier of Schnectady/Lake Placid. Bailey, Demong, Burke and Johnson rode the same van to high school ski practices at 1980 Nordic venue Mt. Van Hoevenberg.

The connections don't end there.

Kris Cheney-Seymour, their former Nordic coach, has a mom who works in the same small doctor's office as Burke's mom. Demong's mom and Frenette's mom work in the Saranac Lake High School music department together.

Big Games. Small world.

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