“What will you do today to lead yourself or others to success?” This is the quote first-year NMU junior and Nordic skier Andy Liebner has taped to the ceiling of his bedroom and wakes up asking himself everyday. Liebner said it’s this kind of positive thinking that helps him succeed in all his ventures from skiing to inventing.
“Every day has to be an improvement of the last or else I don’t feel as if it was valuable,” Liebner said. “So if you keep that mindset, you’ll eventually achieve success. That’s what makes me happy, either seeing myself succeed or seeing others succeed.”
The positive mental outlook and physical preparation has paid off for Liebner. He was named an All-American in both the 10k freestyle race finishing ninth and the 20k classic finishing eighth in March at the NCAA Championships. Liebner has achieved All-American status twice before, in 2007 and 2008, while competing for the University of Alaska Anchorage in the 10k, but had never before reached such success in the 20k classic. It’s an accomplishment Liebner said he felt particularly proud of after undergoing knee surgery and taking two years off college skiing.
“There’s been a lot that’s happened in my life in the two years between,” Liebner said. “I really wanted to prove to myself I could still ski at that level. I was more nervous going into the first race of the National Championships this year than I have been in any ski race in my life.”
Head coach Sten Fjeldheim noted Liebner’s success to his diligent training schedule and consistency. He said his positive attitude and strong work ethic rubbed off on his younger teammates.
“It’s really important that some of your best athletes are some of your best role models, as far as sportsmen go, and Andy was a super role model all year,” Liebner said. “He just did a great job of pulling the younger skiers along and set a great example.”
Liebner has been skiing competitively for 14 years and first came to Marquette in 2002, where he spent four years of active duty in the Coast Guard until 2005. Liebner, a native of Soldotna, Alaska, then moved back to his home state where he spent three years at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, competing in skiing and cross country. He then took two years off of school to focus on what he wanted to do in life.
“When I left Anchorage I went on a spiritual journey, following the signs and the feelings from the universal forces around me,” Liebner said. “I needed to travel a bit and find what my real drive was in life and it led me here.”
Liebner’s travels and journey inspired him to write a sports book that he is getting published this summer. Along with skiing and writing Liebner is an avid inventor, with over 30 sketches of inventions in his collection.
Liebner, a physical education major, plans to ski recreationally after college but wants to focus more on his business ventures. He said the advancement of his inventions are taking precedence in his priorities.
“I feel better in life when I have my passionate things moving forward because I feel like my life is moving forward,” he said. “But when my inventions are sitting still then I feel like my life is sitting still.”
Liebner’s inventions have inspired him to create a business called the Donny Corporation, located in Wyoming. The business is to help inspiring inventors get their foot in the door and get patents. Liebner plans on moving to Wyoming next year to work on the progression of the company. He said he hopes to come back to NMU after next year to continue his education.
“I have another year of eligibility and another year to graduate but this is too much of a call, a pulling,” Liebner said. “As the plan stands now I’m going to come back in 2012-2013, so I can finish my degree and finish my commitment to the ski team.”