Glen Ellen, Vermont, ski area (Sugarbush
North). Left to right: older brother Jimmy,
younger sister Joy, Donna, and her mom.
In mogul competition at World Cup in Nagano,
Japan, performing a double twister spread.
1991 World Championships in Lake Placid,
New York, where Donna won gold.
Killington had a famous run called Outer Limits. It was the width of a football field, twice the length, and loaded with bumps. The run was raw and challenging, but I was up for it, as were a new group of ski buddies. We called ourselves the "Rat Pack."
Then fate took a turn: The art school closed at the same time I was falling in love with mogul skiing. To make things more interesting, the Rat Pack convinced me to enter a mogul contest. I won.
My journey had begun.
I set my sights on making the national freestyle team. I worked as a waitress in the evenings, and during the day – every day – I went up and down and up and down the bumps of Outer Limits. They say that if you do something for 10,000 hours you will become proficient. Well, I did my 10,000 and then some.
All the while my little Subaru got me there and back safely through wind, rain, snow, and ice. It never let me down.
With the money I made from waiting tables, I bought my first car -- a 1985 Subaru sedan. The little white Subaru hatchback was passed down to my younger sister along with my (by now) expert stick-shifting advice.
In the 1987 season, I started winning all of my eastern competitions. I qualified for the only spot from the eastern division in the Freestyle National Championships, held in Squaw Valley, California. I placed sixth, and that gave me a slot on the U.S. National Freestyle Ski Team.
In the emerging sport of freestyle skiing, I was in the right place at the right time. During my rookie year, the sport took its place on the world's largest stage, demonstrating in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics in Canada. Moguls was granted full medal status and would become an Olympic sport officially at the 1992 Albertville games in France.
What happened the next four years leading to Albertville was magical:
- First year: I won rookie of the year, taking a couple of third-place World Cup finishes and winning National Championships.
- Second year: I was second in the overall World Cup grand prix standings, took a silver at World Championships, and won Nationals.
- Third year: I was the overall World Cup Champion and won Nationals.
- Fourth year: I won World Championships, was again the overall World Cup Champion, and, for the fourth year in a row, I was the U.S. National Champion.
By 1992, I was favored to win the first Olympic gold medal for freestyle mogul skiing. The pressure was immense. Yet, as I stood on top of the Olympic course, I looked out across the mountainside and gave thanks for the journey that had taken me to this moment. I thought of how my parents, with their infectious love of skiing, unknowingly had paved the road for me to become an Olympic athlete with every round-trip from New Jersey to Killington.
That day, I'm proud to say, I did bring home the Olympic gold medal for the United States of America. My name is Donna Weinbrecht, Olympic champion, and today I'm driving my fifth Subaru.
Five Overall World Cup Champion Crystal Globes for being the season title holder 1990-1994 and 1996. Left to right: first-ever awarded Olympic gold medal for mogul skiing in 1992, Albertville, France; 1991 World Championship Gold medal from Lake Placid. Background is Outer Limits in Killington, Vermont, where Donna trains.