American ski racers Ted Ligety, Mikaela Shiffrin and Andrew Weibrecht have more in common than winning Olympic medals at Sochi: They were all coached, during their formative teen years, by Oxford Hills native and veteran Alpine coach Adam Chadbourne.
Reached on his cellphone during a break from his busy schedule as director of Athletic Performance at Waterville Valley Academy in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, Chadbourne downplayed his impact on the three Olympians.
“I would never take the credit away from them and their accomplishments,” Chadbourne said. “It is a function of their hard work and dedication. There are many factors that are well beyond me.”
He added, “I am very proud and feel that I have contributed to their successes, for sure, but they are their successes and I am a mere contributor along the way.”
Chadbourne, 39, has been a full-time Alpine coach for 17 years, including stints as the U.S. men’s national ski team, the Eastern youth development coach for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and seven years as director of Burke Mountain Academy’s Alpine program.
His relationship with Weibrecht, who thrilled U.S. fans with his surprise silver medal win in the super-G last week, started when Weibrecht was only 14 and continued, off and on, until the skier was 19.
In the 2003-04 Chadbourne had the distinction of coaching both Weibrecht and Ligety as juniors on the U.S. Ski Team. Ligety won a gold medal for giant slalom in Sochi last week, adding to the gold he won at the Turin Olympics in 2006.
“That year, in 2003-2004, was pretty exceptional,” Chadbourne said.
Shiffrin, the 18 year-old phenom and another gold medal winner, was coached by Chadbourne for years at Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont. He was her direct coach in the 2010-11 season, when she made the breakthrough from juvenile to international racing and won a World Cup spot.
That he played a role in coaching all three athletes who won medals within days of each other at the same Olympics was unexpected.
“It’s definitely not normal,” Chadbourne said.
“It’s not usual that I would have worked with these three athletes,” he said. “I would have potentially have known these different athletes, depending on at what level I was coaching on, but I don’t know many who know all three, unless they are coaching on the national level.”
Chadbourne grew up in Waterford and Norway. Although a lifelong skier, he didn’t compete at state and national levels until he went to Oxford Hills High School in Paris.
“I was relatively late to it,” Chadbourne said. “A lot of ski racers are involved in that at a very young age.”
He continued racing at Bates College in Lewiston when he was a student there, but he never intended to make a career out of his life on the slopes.
In fact, after graduating from Bates in 1997, Chadbourne intended to pursue a graduate degree, but he took an opportunity to run the racing program at Saddleback Mountain in Rangeley.
The rest is history.
“It’s an odd profession to fall into,” Chadbourne said. “If you had asked me 20 years ago what I’d be doing, I’d certainly never have guessed I’d be coaching ski racing.”
Now, he can’t imagine doing anything else, although as a father of three young children he doesn’t foresee getting back into coaching on the national level. He’s currently coaching a whole new generation of Olympic hopefuls at Waterville Valley, he said, as he ran off to get back to the slopes.
“We’ve got some real hot ones coming up,” he said. “We just never know how it will shake out.”