Cheboygan-made ski poles make their way to Olympics in PyeongChang
CHEBOYGAN, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- From the coaching to the equipment, so many things go into the performance of an Olympic athlete.
A man from Cheboygan has traveled all the way to PyeongChang to coach a cross country skier, bringing with him his specialty ski poles, hand made in his shop in Cheboygan.
It all started when Andy Liebner and his father, Roger, got their hands on some equipment used to make carbon fiber golf clubs. Now they're crafting hundreds ski poles for some of the sport's premier athletes.
Andy Liebner,34, is coaching in his second Winter Olympics this year with Texas-based cross country skier, German Madrazo, who is competing for Team Mexico.
“It took us a long time to get this evolved," said Roger Liebner.
Roger is holding down the shop at the U.S. Ski Pole Company during the Olympics.
Each part of the pole is made locally.
From the actual carbon fiber shafts made in the shop from scratch, to the plastic tips which are made in Muskegon, and the molds are made in Gaylord.
Even the Webbing on the pole straps is local.
“Is cut by the sheltered workshop for mentally challenged adults in Cheboygan, and they get paid by the piece, and then they’re all sent down to Elk Rapids to be sewn,” Roger said.
Liebner said that local touch is what sets them apart.
“We are the only manufacturer in North America making racing ski poles for cross country that we know of right now, in a volume like we are,” Roger said.
They made about 300 pairs last year.
Their new specialty is putting custom graphics on the poles.
In PyeongChang, German Madrazo won't be the only one with the poles. The company has designed them for Team Iceland.
“It’s very rewarding," Roger said. "Because, we know how much work it’s taken to get us to this particular point.”
The poles aren't just for Olympians. U.S. Ski Poles Company has made them for teams ranging from local high schools, to Northern Michigan University.
Mexican skier, German Madrazo, is 43-years-old and picked up the sport of cross country skiing only about one year ago.