"Wild Shot": New XC Ski Culture book!
January 24, 2012
[$22 postpaid in the USA. Non-US extra. Out of stock! ...But available on Amazon.]
Andy Liebner is a fast young Alaskan who went from top junior and collegiate (NMU!) XC ski racing results to signing up for the military the day after 9-11 to then racing around the world to see how far he could go in XC skiing and biathlon. He had many surprising adventures along the way and learned what it means to go it alone (with help from friends). Breakthroughs and frustrations alike abound in his story. The barriers were ENDLESS and only got BIGGER, yet Andy persevered. The finale is fascinating with major twists.
This is the newest XC ski "scene" book. And the only one to come out since Pete Vordenberg's "Momentum," which I published. I didn't publish Andy's book, but I helped -- it's been fun working with the very energetic Andy.
Andy particularly enjoys training with various pals, including some of the best athletes in the world -- such as the #1 all-time biathlete, "King Ole." He's trying to see what they do that makes them so good and he passes along what he learns.
His races give us heat-of-the-moment action ranging from big wins to shocking DQ's.
There are adventures with authority of all types. These are boggling, with embassies and mayors getting into the picture, allies who are enemies, and surprising help. Passion and energy don't always equal diplomacy, but much of his snags seemed inevitable. Andy works on comprehending the "Why? Why me? What the heck?", making interesting progress along the way.
There's business and marketing, too, when Andy starts repping for a wax company in the middle of racing and then becomes in demand as a winning wax tech. But he just wants to race!
The candle gets burned on 3 ends -- but there are highlights of focus.
Andy includes practical insights on the factors separating skiers who are on their way up, including his best tips for technique, and advice on the toughest challenge: the mind game.
It's 250 pages of page-burning fun -- with nail-biting cliffhangers.
Last year Andy won the US Marathon series and College Cup individual titles. Nowadays he's back to globetrotting, coaching Olympians, working in the industry, and waxing. Whew!
Here's an excerpt:
"...The course they [the Swiss-Cup organizers] decided on is the absolute hardest they could possibly make it.
If you don’t know the phrase “high marking” it is commonly used in Alaska when snowmobilers run straight up the side of a mountain and each driver tries to go higher then the previous one. Well, I can almost hear the Piston-Bully driver with one of those mischievous laughs as he high-marked the trail 200 meters before the shooting range and again immediately after it. Absolutely ruthless! There’s nothing like a mega-steep climb straight up the side of a mountain that takes 2 minutes, followed by a hairpin turn (180’ around a flag at the top) and a screaming fast downhill that gives you about 10 seconds to bring your heart rate down before shooting. Then after shooting in a hurry, before you can even think, you are back to climbing up a solidly steep wall of mountain at the start of the loop. (Piston-Bully is the main brand of trail-grooming machine, like a Zamboni at ice-rinks.)
After 5 loops, 4 shooting stages, and skiing up and down the side of that mountain a total of 10 times, the finish line finally arrives. Solid skiing and decent shooting earns me 4th place overall.
It has been a very interesting trip. Dealing with all kinds of mental factors, coming from a skier’s background, there are so many more “little mental things” in biathlon that can easily mess up a good day.
For instance, you can dry-fire for hours, spend months doing combo drills at the range, shoot thousands of rounds in training. But what you cannot practice for is what the fans do while you ski, and especially shoot. Yeah, there are times during training when the range is full and there is a lot going on in the background, but it’s completely different in a competition. I’d say that is one of the most difficult things that I am learning to deal with. I have done a lot of intervals, training hard coming into the range and shooting quickly. Physically I can pace the shots, take the shots in-between every 2 gasps for air, and successfully hit them. But when you have guys you’re catching on the ski trails there next to you shooting, and you can hear the guys come into the range that are trying to catch you on the slinky effect, it adds something that you really can’t practice. It’s another one of those things you just have to experience and learn to deal with.
One thing that the crowd started to do today when I came in for my first prone shooting is commenting on every one of my shots. My first shot is a hit, I then hear a loud “Yyyyaaaaa!!” my second shot comes directly after and is also a hit, I hear again the chant “Yyyyaaaaa!!” I know they are just being fans and it’s a part of the sport but then I start to think stuff like, “Wow they’re calling out my shots, sure wouldn’t want to disappoint them,” while taking my next shot and so I then miss it. Stuff like that is unexpected and can’t be practiced or trained for no matter how much time you spend at the range.
It doesn’t bother me when there is a lot of noise, because it all meshes together and is easier to block out. But when you’re the first to come in and shoot for the day and you’re the only one shooting, and the entire crowd is focused on your every move, it’s absolutely nervewracking. Yet, it’s absolutely critical to experience these types of scenarios and the best place to get that experience is in Europe. If I were in America, first, it would be hard to find an actual biathlon race; second, even if I found one, there wouldn’t be any fans. So in a way, I came here for these types of nervewracking, mind-twisting experiences, which I will hopefully benefit from later." [...]
If you click on my order button, it's $22 postpaid.
I offer a nice paperback, but it's available on Kindle, also!
If you want a Kindle edition, use the following link to order so that OYB gets a bit:
(And, yeah, the paperback is also for sale at Amazon, but it's better to buy from me!)
Here are some early reviews:
“Ever wondered what it would be like to compete at the highest levels of a sport? Now, image doing it without a support system of coaches, money, or a team. This is Andy Liebner’s story of how a young guy with a big dream decided to go it on his own against the biggest stars on the skiing and biathlon world circuit. While biathlon is not a sport most Americans recognize, the Europeans pour money into training facilities, gear and athlete development. With none of these advantages Andy sets out to train himself and take it to the Europeans on their home turf. His inspiration is both familiar and unique. While mental and physical training are key for many types of endurance sports, the shooting and skiing skills of Biathlon are special. The competitions are bare-knuckle shoot outs in some of the toughest weather and high mountain terrain. Andy’s journey is not an easy one and the challenges off the course often seem bigger than those encountered in competition. This exciting story couples the high speed twists and turns of a ski run with the human roller coaster of emotion.” – Janet Conway PhD.
Wild Shot lives up to its name. Andy Liebner details his athletic training and racing in Europe and the United States. Beyond the physical and technical athletic requirements, Liebner gives the reader deeper insight into the proper and difficult mindset necessary for success. Realizing a little self-doubt can destroy him, Liebner discovers his greatest enemy and his greatest strength lie in his attitude. A true hero's journey in every sense of the word. -- Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. and author of the award-winning U.P. novel, "Narrow Lives"
This book provides an honest perspective of what it truly takes to become a top level ski racer in a country with so little ski culture, let alone support for young athletes pursuing their dreams of becoming a top level skier. This book is a great example of what can happen if one's passion and desire to race are strong enough. It is full of adventure and great examples of what can be done if an athlete has the passion and willingness to overcome barriers. -- Sten Fjeldheim, NMU Ski Coach
Reading Andy Liebner's book is like going on a journey of discovery. Along the way you experience everything Andy does and become part of his adventure in Nordic skiing. Andy has accepted life as a challenge, and he draws the reader into his life as a world-class cross country ski racer. I recommend it as a must read for every skier. -- Bob Gregg, Publisher of "The Master Skier" Ski Journal