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Weibrect to lead reestablishing PSC alpine program

PAUL SMITHS — While colleges around the country are dropping varsity sports programs, Paul Smith’s College has been on a mission for over a year to bring more competitive sports to its 14,000-acre campus in the Adirondacks. After officially announcing the addition of Nordic skiing, biathlon, hockey, trap shooting and esports, comes the latest addition to campus in the form of alpine skiing in 2021-22, giving the school a total of 27 varsity sports programs.

Actually, alpine skiing is making more of a return to Paul Smith’s College after having a dominant program in the 1980s and 1990s that saw the school, a two-year institution at the time, capture the national junior college championship in 1991. The College of the Adirondacks’ skiing legacy dates back to 1952 when it hosted the United States Olympic trials prior to the Winter Games in Oslo. The trials occurred on campus at its Jenkins Mountain ski hill.

Integral to the Paul Smith’s College announcement is the naming of Olympic silver and bronze medalist Andrew Weibrecht of Lake Placid to spearhead the effort.

The three-time Olympian won his medals in super G and will bring 16 years of national and international experience with the U.S. Ski Team to PSC. He will assume a lead role in assisting the college with creating a new program. Members of the men’s and women’s teams will be able to train and compete at nearby Whiteface, the Olympic Mountain which hosted the 1980 alpine skiing events.

“Having a program that’s catered toward that, both online and in-residence, is really sellable to a lot of families,” stated Weibrecht, who attended Dartmouth College and finished his degree after a 16-year racing career.

Weibrecht is one of the five Olympians comprising the school’s Olympic Advisory Council.

“The Division I world has gotten crazy competitive, both admissions into these colleges and getting slots on the team, which often go hand in hand,” Weibrecht said. “If you’re being recruited by the team, it does help you get into the school itself.”

PSC ski racers will have the opportunity to experience the Olympic vibe that permeates from Lake Placid, just 20 miles to the east. The village is marked by world-class athletes, many of them Winter Olympians, in virtually all the sports contested at the Games. The atmosphere is both inspirational and motivational.

The Paul Smith’s College alpine ski team plans to work with the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) which is a Gold Certified Club by the US Ski and Snowboard Association, the national governing body of skiing and snowboard competition.   NYSEF is one of the original eight Gold Clubs and has been a leader in snowsport instruction since 1973 supporting similar local skiing programs including Clarkson University (USCSA), St. Lawrence University (EISA, NCAA) and Northwood School (boarding high school).

“We look forward to partnering with Paul Smith’s to provide a supportive environment for another successful ski program in the area,” said John Norton, NYSEF Executive Director and Alpine Program Director.

NYSEF provides athlete lodge facilities and training venues at Whiteface Mountain in partnership with the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA). 

In addition to alpine skiing, PSC also offers other on snow disciplines. The school’s Nordic team currently participates as a member of the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association, which is the lone governing body that includes alpine, Nordic, jumping, snowboarding and freeskiing. Other snow sports disciplines at PSC will compete under the USCSA’s umbrella. Doing so, within the USCSA, is the only path for student/athletes who wish to be among the 2,500 individuals scheduled to race at the 2023 World University Games in Lake Placid.