Olympic Gold Medalist, Moguls
Olympic gold medalist Donna Weinbrecht may well be the most dominant mogul competitor in the world, even years after her competitive career wound down. She had a phenomenal run, a story for the record books.
Donna is a lively presence on stage as she conveys the Olympic ideal with her colorful and compelling story. During her 14-year stretch (itself a milestone) on the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team, she earned every title and accolade possible. A look at her record shows it was quite a ride to the top of the moguls competition world. She was the first Olympic women’s moguls gold medalist (1992 in Albertville, France), won one World Championship gold medal (1991) and two silvers (1989 & 1997). Donna claimed the World Cup moguls overall title five times. Including her lifetime record of 46 World Cup wins and seven U.S. championship titles in her discipline, Donna’s accomplishments are unsurpassed by any skier in any discipline.
Donna’s route to mogul stardom was roundabout and never easy. She had skied for pleasure since she was seven. Her teenage goals were to be a fashion designer and simultaneously to become a competitive figure skater. Those paths soon diverged. The West Milford, New Jersey native found competitive figure skating too expensive, and the design school folded. Donna chose skiing as her route to excellence, kicking off her quest later in life than most world champions in any sport. She spent the winter of 1985 at the family’s vacation home in Killington, Vermont. Entranced by the freestylers tackling the bumps, Donna decided to try it herself. In her quietly confident way, she taught herself how to run the moguls “by watching the guys.” This visual coaching served her well and she was soon winning local and regional mogul competitions. By 1987, she qualified for the U.S. championships and was picked for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. In 1988, her first year in international competition, she ended the season by winning the national women’s moguls title and was named international rookie of the year. The next season she was overall runner-up on the World Cup Grand Prix tour. Until she tore her right ACL before the 1993 season, Weinbrecht, with her signature blonde ponytail, was the yardstick by which women mogul competitors measured themselves.
After the injury, Donna recovered enough of her former grit to win a number of World Cup events from 1994 to 1997 including one of her two World Championship silver medals in 1997. She competed in three Olympics, 1992, 1994 and 1998, and finally retired from the U.S. Ski Team in 2002. In 2004, Donna was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame.
The mogul great now spends her time crisscrossing the country for public appearances and motivational speaking engagements and is currently recounting her journey in a children’s story.