Jaerbyn’s season ends before it starts | VailDaily.com

Jaerbyn’s season ends before it starts

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado
AP File PhotoPatrick Jaerbyn, who lives in Edwards, storms to a third-place finish last year during a super-G race in Lake Louise, Alberta. Jaerbyn injured his knees while training with the U.S. Ski Team in Chile this fall and is done for the season.

EDWARDS ” This was supposed to be another great skiing season for the ageless Patrick Jaerbyn.

Jaerbyn, the 38-year old Swedish racer who lives in Edwards, was coming off a resurgent 2006-07 campaign in which he became the oldest World Cup racer to land on the podium and also picked up a World Alpine Championships medal in his native country ” and entered the fall in top shape.

But in mid-September, when Jaerbyn was in Chile training with the U.S. Ski Team, a crash put an end to his season before it started. The crash left Jaerbyn with a torn ACL and a stretched ligament on his left knee and with some ligament damage in his right knee.

“You train all spring, summer and fall and then, poof,” Jaerbyn said. “I was really hoping to ski ,and everything was there for me. I finally got boots that I really figured out, and it felt awesome.”

Jaerbyn even used skis last year that conform to the new sidecut rules put in place for this season.

“Everything was there on a silver platter, and I had to do was work hard and take some risks,” he said. “I was doing all the work for this year.”

After sustaining the injury, Jaerbyn flew to Austria to get operated on by the same doctor who took care of him years ago and then came back and started the recovery process.

“It was a tough time,” Jaerbyn said. “But you see the positive in things and say, ‘OK, I have a lot of time with my wife and my family.’ I get a year away from (racing), and I’ve been doing it for a very long time. I’m seeing new opportunities. I might go on skiing next year. I can’t shut anything out. I’m definitely motivated.”

Jaerbyn will spend most of the winter in Edwards with his wife, Randi, and their 2-year-old, and the couple is also expecting a second child.

While the injury was a tough blow for Jaerbyn, it also brought some sadness to guys on the U.S. Ski Team.

“He trained with us this summer,” Steven Nyman said. “It was a tough loss. He’s been a machine his entire career. He’s been so solid and never been hurt. … He’ll come back and still amaze people.”

From very early in his long career, Jaerbyn has always been friendly with the U.S. skiers.

“I got the chance to train with them in 1994 and met some awesome guys on that team like Chad Fleischer,” Jaerbyn said. “He’s been one of my best friends. The coaching staff has always been nice to me, especially in the tough times I’ve had, like when I got kicked off (the Swedish Ski Team) in 2003.”

After Jaerbyn raced independently for the 2003-2004 season, the Swedish team took him back for 2005-2006, only to boot him once again the following year. But Jaerbyn again showed his indomitable spirit last season, capturing a bronze in a super-G World Cup at Lake Louise, Alberta, and a bronze in a downhill at the World Championships in Are, Sweden.

Not only does Jaerbyn train with the U.S. Ski Team, but he also provides some leadership to the Americans.

“We’ve adopted him,” Nyman said. “He’s the old man on the speed side for us. The tech guys have (Erik) Schlopy, and we have Jaerbyn teaching us the way. He’ll show up (at training) and lay the smack down.”

“I really love them all ” the coaches and the guys and I get along really great,” Jaerbyn said. “I really feel comfortable helping those guys because they’ve been so nice to me.”

While the U.S. Ski Team was training at Copper earlier this month, Jaerbyn paid them a visit.

“I really wanted to go up and ski,” he said.

Jaerbyn has been training and thinks he may be able to get back on snow in a few months.

“So far, it’s going really good,” he said. “Skiing-wise, I can go out at the end of January or February, but I’m not going to push it because there’s no stress for me.”

And with a some youthful legs, there’s no point rushing.

“The doctor asked me what were my plans,” Jaerbyn said. “I told him I haven’t made any right now, but I’m thinking about skiing again. Then he said, ‘From a doctor’s point of view, (your knees) look like those of a 20-year-old.'”

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.

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