Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

First World Cup!

I finished my first World Cup biathlon race! I was the 4th leg of our relay team at World Cup 6 in Antholz, Italy. 

In the women's relay event, each person skis a 2k loop, shoots prone, skis another 2k loop, shoots standing, and then skis a third 2k loop and tags off. For each shooting stage, in addition to the five bullets ("rounds") in the magazine, you have three spare rounds you can load by hand if you need to. If you still have un-hit targets after using eight bullets, you have to ski the corresponding number of penalty laps. Spare rounds and penalty laps take a lot of time so it is best to try to hit all five targets on the first pass! In a typical biathlon race, the top teams have no penalty laps and few spares. On Sunday, however, there was strong gusting wind, and only one team out of 20 finished the race with no penalties. For anyone who is trying to decode the results: Clare Egan 0+3, 2+3 means I used all three spares in prone but did not have any penalty laps, and then used all three spares in standing and still had two penalty laps. 

Susan Dunklee on course with a Bularussian
Susan Dunklee went first for our team. She shot 0+0, 0+3 (get it??) and skied the fastest ski time for the first leg, tagging off to Hannah Dreissigacker in 2nd place! Hannah shot 0+2 in prone but then got stuck on the range during a gale-force gust in standing and shot 3+3! She was on the range for almost two minutes, along with about ten other women, just waiting for the wind to die. A normal range time is more like 30 seconds. Hannah tagged off to our third skier, Annelies Cook, in 12th. Annelies shot 0+3, 0+1 and skied us up into 10th place, when she tagged me!

Hannah Dreissigacker with fans cheering on the hill
Annelies Cook tagging me in the exchange zone
I was psyched that I was keeping up with other skiers around me on my first loop. In prone I missed my first three shots! But then I hit my last two, as well as all three spares so I avoided going into the penalty loop. In standing, the opposite thing happened. I hit my first three shots, but then missed the next five, and had to go twice around the penalty loop. I was lucky when I first arrived on the range it was calm enough for me to get those three shots off and have hits. Then after that the wind picked up again and I couldn't control the rifle. My last lap was hard, because I was alone on course. All the teams behind us had been lapped by the leaders so they were pulled out of the race and not allowed to finish, and all the spectators were already leaving. When I finished, my teammate Susan was waiting for me at the finish line and showed me where my warm clothes were and carried my stuff for me. Thank goodness for good teammates!

The whole World Cup experience was very positive and I am looking forward to racing at World Cups 7 & 8 in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic and Oslo, Norway. I think that I will fit right in.

Me in the finish area, as seen on Eurovision live feed, by my dad in Florida!
"Biathlon Fans Hungary" are also fans of USA!
Stadium at dusk after Saturday's pursuit
Jumbo screen as seen from the stadium. Susan Dunklee (USA), far right,
raises her skis to celebrate her 6th place finish in the pursuit
Spectator tent, post race
One of the tamer moments in the spectator tent

Sunday, January 25, 2015

FasterSkier Coverage of Antholz Relay

Here is a link to FasterSkier's article about Sunday's 4x6k women's World Cup relay in Antholz.

Wind gusting through the range in Antholz, Italy

US Biathlon Antholz Relay Recap

Here is a link to US Biathlon's official recap from today. I will write my own in the next few days!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Story on Maine Public Radio

Check out this story on Maine Public Broadcasting Network about my first trip to the World Cup. You can listen or read the transcript, here.

Scenes from the World Cup

World Cup 6 is underway in Antholz, Italy.

The crowd goes wild for a German biathlete

With the exception of a handful of dedicated friends, I believe this is the first time in my life that anyone outside my immediate family has come to watch a race. There were spectators lining the course already on Tuesday to watch us train. Now that the races are underway, the stands, biergartens, and trailsides are packed. 

View of the stadium with the Dolomites in the background 

I usually think of cross-country skiing as a quiet sport, but here the air is full of sounds: noisemakers and screaming fans everywhere, hilarious live Tyrollean accordion music amplified from a bandstand, announcers talking in German and Italian, and of course gun shots. There are several jumbo screens around the stadium, TV cameras out on the course on moving tracks and even one hanging from a huge crane, and people all dressed up in funny hats and facepaint waving banners and flags for their favorite teams and athletes. It's a big party. I already signed a bunch of autographs and posed for pictures...and I haven't even competed yet.

Hannah Dreissigacker (center) and Susan Dunklee sign autographs

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Starting on the World Cup

I just learned from my coach that I will be doing my first World Cup this weekend! I will be in the 4x6k women's relay on Sunday in Antholz, Italy. My teammate Maddie, who was also named to the World Cup for this weekend, will compete in the sprint on Friday and have a chance at qualifying for the pursuit on Saturday! (See my previous post for a more in-depth explanation of all of this.) Check out the venue and the event site, here! They are expecting more than 60,000 spectators!

Here is the official announcement from TeamUSA.org/US-Biathlon
"Also on Saturday, U.S. Biathlon announced additional athletes for upcoming international competitions. Joining the women's team for IBU World Cup 6 in Antholz, Italy, Jan. 22-25, will be Maddie Phaneuf (Old Forge, N.Y.) and Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine), while Russell Currier (Stockholm, Maine) will join the men's team for that event. Phaneuf and Currier will also compete at the Open European Championships, Jan. 27-Feb. 3 in Otepaa, Estonia, along with Doherty, Nordgren and Casey Smith (Winthrop, Wash.)."