Sweden’s Jaerbyn at home again at Birds of Prey in Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK – The guy with the shortest commute for this week’s Birds of Prey World Cup races belongs to a guy who represents Sweden.
It’s Patrik Jaerbyn, 41, who actually lives in Edwards with his wife, Randi, and their two sons, Erik and Lukas. Technically, Jaerbyn stays in a hotel this week to focus on the task at hand, but when it comes to the next-closest competitors living near Beaver Creek, it’s a coin flip between Americans Ted Ligety and Steve Nyman who live in Utah.
“I love it here. It’s really beautiful preparation from (chief of course Greg) Johnson and the whole crew, the Vail Valley Foundation,” Jaerbyn said after Tuesdays first training run. “Everybody’s happy when they get their accreditation and everything is perfect. I’m not saying I feel responsible, but I feel like part of the crew. It’s great here. It’s always awesome to ski.”
The first thing that comes to mind with Jaerbyn is that he is the oldest racer on the World Cup at 41. When Swiss racer Didier Cuche was asked Tuesday about his ability to perform at 36, he came back with the obligatory rim shot.
“OK, compared to Patrik, I’m still a young guy.”
When he was 36, Jaerbyn set the record for the oldest racer to reach a World Cup podium with a third-place finish in Lake Louise in super-G. He broke his own record two years later, finishing third – again in super-G – in Val Gardena, Italy.
“I get reminded of it every day,” Jaerbyn said. “All the Austrians call me “Old Swede.” … I can’t change it. I wish I could. I wish I could turn time back 15 years. But I’m healthy and I trained really good this summer. I’m going to do all I can here and in other places.”
Yes, Jaerbyn is ancient in World Cup skiing circles, but he is still keeping up with the younger racers on tour. On Sunday, he took seventh in the super-G up at Lake Louise, Alberta.
Jaerbyn has two World Championship medals, spread apart by 11 years – a silver in super-G in 1996 and a bronze in downhill in 2007. The Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, were his fifth.
He was 29th in the downhill and then had a spectacular crash in super-G, which resulted in a concussion. But he was back on the World Cup tour, three weeks later in Kvitifjell, Norway, taking eighth in a super-G.
“I’ve seen it a bunch of times,” Jaerbyn said of his Olympic crash. “It could have gone worse. It could have gone better too. All in all, I’m here still standing.”
Jaerbyn credits his wife for his ability to keep skiing at a high level.
“She’s just supportive,” he said. “That helps me to. It’s easier to train. We do what we can. She knows I have to work out and train. I think she really loves to watch ski racing and watch what I do.”
Jaerbyn had the unenviable task of wearing bib No. 1 in Tuesday’s training. As the self-called “test guy,” he finished 25th. He drew No. 7 for today’s training.
“I was a little bit tentative here and there,” Jaerbyn said. “I skied through it. I now know where I can get a little more gas. Now I know where I can ski better, and also where I can ski good.”
Whenever Jaerbyn decides to hand up the skis, he might have a career in golf waiting. A regular in the hunt during Men’s League at Eagle Ranch, the guy can play. In his final round of the season at Lakota Canyon down in New Castle, Jaerbyn shot a 1-under-par 71.
“It was actually really good at the end of the year, at the end of August,” Jaerbyn said of his second sport. “I played really, really good. Unfortunately, that’s when the skiing starts, too.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
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