Ageless Jaerbyn flying World Cup solo
BEAVER CREEK – At 37, Patrick Jaerbyn was without a ski team – again.In March, the Swedish Ski Team dropped Jaerbyn, an Edwards resident, for the second time in four years.Jaerbyn could have easily called it quits, but he knew there was plenty of good skiing left in his legs.”I felt like I was standing pretty good on my skis, but I wasn’t skiing fast,” Jaerbyn said Tuesday afternoon at the Beaver Creek Lodge.So Jaerbyn decided to come back with new equipment – and without a team or sponsors.After one week of racing, Jaerbyn – a speed skier – is sitting in ninth overall and has a third-place finish from last weekend’s super-G in Lake Louise, Alberta.”This is the oldest man ever to be on a podium in the World Cup,” said American Steve Nyman, taking a pinch at Jaerbyn’s cheek. “Look at this skin. It’s beautiful.”Jaerbyn doesn’t look his age, and surely doesn’t feel it.
“It’s one thing to have an age on paper, but you’ve gotta feel yourself – how your body feels, how much self criticism you have. I asked myself the question, ‘Do you believe in yourself? Do you think you can do it?’ And I told myself straight away, ‘Yeah.'”Right into itJaerbyn went into the summer preparing for another year on tour – his 14th racing on the World Cup. As an independent skier, Jaerbyn was ready to pay his own way, which he’d done for the 2004 season after the Swedish team dropped him in 2003. The Swedes took Jaerbyn back following the 2004 season, when he was 12th in the super-G, 15th in combined, 19th in downhill and 24th overall. In 2005 and 2006, Jaerbyn’s ranking slipped a bit and the Swedes decided to let him go.”Nobody here has gone through what I’ve gone through,” Jaerbyn said. “I’m just the guy who hasn’t got everything served on a silver platter.”But Jaerbyn doesn’t invest too much thought into the past.”It takes so much energy and I’m focusing on the skiing and that’s what I’ll do in the future, too,” Jaerbyn said.While Jaerbyn skis under the Swedish flag, he’s gotten a little help from the United States and Norway.”The U.S. Ski Team opened their arms to me and welcomed me, and I went with them to Chile in September (for training),” Jaerbyn said. “I’m really thankful for them, and I’m thankful for the Norwegians, who have been helping me throughout the season.”
HomeworkAlthough a seasoned veteran, Jaerbyn was willing to undertake some changes in his skiing. After skiing with Fischer for a little bit, Jaerbyn switched to Atomic, a company he’d used for most of his career.And Jaerbyn watched video to tweak some finer parts of his skiing to look more like recently retired American Daron Rahlves. “I’ve always been watching (him) and that’s what I’ve wanted to be like when I come down (the hill),” Jaerbyn said. “(I) watch video of myself now, and it looks pretty good.”The smooth training translated to quality results in the opened speed events. After a 16th-place finish in the downhill, Jaerbyn picked up his second career World Cup podium.”For me it’s amazing,” Jaerbyn said. “It was fantastic in every way.”But Jaerbyn was quick to share the credit.”Without the Americans and Norwegians, I wouldn’t have made those results,” he said. “You need training.”Backyard skiingIn September, Jaerbyn got married to Randi Borgen, whose father Erik owns Kvitfjel Ski Resort in Norway. While Jaerbyn would love to stay at home with his wife and 14-month old son, Erik, he’s staying up at Beaver Creek to concentrate better on racing. But there will be a large contingent of friends and family watching Jaerbyn ski on his favorite World Cup course.
“I love the hill,” Jaerbyn said. “It has everything a downhill needs, and I’ve been skiing well here.”Jaerbyn got an early look at the Birds of Prey course a few weeks ago, but not by racing it.”I set up two fences up there on the flat, so I know how much hard work there is,” Jaerbyn said, lauding the efforts of the volunteers who worked tirelessly Tuesday to clear snow off the course.After the World Cup leaves the United States, Jaerbyn won’t be back home much, although he’s looking forward to returning to Are, Sweden – his former home – for the World Championships.”It’s going to be big,” Jaerbyn said. “I lived there for eight years. The last time I skied there I was 11th (in a super-G in 2006).”More than anything, Jaerbyn can’t wait to ski for his country in the team event.”We have one time a year to ski as a team, and I’m for sure a team player. It feels great to have other people depend on you, and it’s fun to comfort each other and cheer for each other.”And chances are, Jaerbyn will be back for another year on the World Cup.”My body for sure has a lot of years left,” Jaerbyn said.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.