Monday, November 30, 2015

First World Cup of 2015

And a HUGE improvement from last weekend!!!

Yesterday was the World Cup opener in Ostersund, Sweden. I skied the first leg of the "single mixed relay" event, in which a woman skis 1.5k, shoots prone, skis another 1.5k, shoots standing, and then tags here male partner (Sean Doherty, in my case), and then he does the same thing... and then you both go a second time!!! Following the last shooting stage, the man does a final 1.5k sprint to the finish. This was only the third time that the single mixed relay has been contested at the World Cup level and it is a fun race to watch and certainly to be part of! 

I am in the third row in the center, wearing bib 8.
Our new uniforms from Adidas feature a purple and orange
"new interpretation of the American flag."
Shooting speed and accuracy are even more important in the single mixed relay than in other biathlon events, because the total ski distance/time is so short. As in all biathlon relays, if you miss any targets with your five bullets from the magazine, you can hand-load up to three spare rounds. You have to keep shooting until you either hit all five targets or have used all eight bullets- five from the clip plus three spares. If you still have misses after taking eight shots, you have to do one penalty lap per miss. So the last thing you want to do is spend 10+ seconds shooting each spare round and then still have to ski penalty laps! Ideally you hit five targets with five bullets (in under 30 seconds).

I am not a fast shooter; in fact I had the slowest shooting time of anyone in the race. But I did shoot pretty well yesterday, missing only one target on the first, second, and fourth shooting stages and two on the third stage. I had to use two spare rounds each time to hit the remaining target(s). My teammate Sean had one perfect "clean" stage where he used no spare rounds, two stages where he used one or two spares, and one stage where he used all three and had one penalty loop. We both skied well and ended up in 15th place among 26 teams. 

The start was chaotic but a fun opportunity to compete head-to-head with some of the top World Cup biathletes. Our next race is a 15km Individual, men on Wednesday and women on Thursday. Check the Eurovision live stream countdown to figure out when to watch in your time zone!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

World Cup Racing Tomorrow!

World Cup 1 starts tomorrow in Sweden. Watch us live!

7:45am EST Single Mixed Relay (Me and Sean)
9:30am EST Mixed Relay (Susan, Annelies, Leif, Lowell)


Photo: IBU 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A New Low!!!!

Today I got my worst result in a biathlon race, ever! 

I skied slowly, fell once, missed two in prone, and missed ALL FIVE in standing. (That is called "dirtying" the target, which I have done one other time in practice two years ago, that I remember.)

I am leaving myself plenty of room, i.e. all the room, to do better next weekend. 

Good things that happened: my back did not hurt while carrying the rifle, I hit three prone targets, all of my standing shots were in a very tight group (all hitting an area about the size of a half-dollar) right outside the top edge of the target, and... I think that's it actually.

Oh yeah- at least I am not injured. My teammate Hannah dislocated her knee cap yesterday and is able to walk but not ski. So that puts things in perspective. 

My teammate Susan and coach Jonas sporting our new uniforms

Friday, November 20, 2015

Racing kicks off tomorrow!

Last Sunday we traveled from the US to Sjusjoen, Norway, where we are training in preparation for the first World Cup, which kicks off next weekend in Ostersund, Sweden. It is truly winter here!

Sun & Snow
We spent the first few days here getting used to skiing on real skis on real snow, and shooting in the cold weather.  

Tomorrow we have a season-opener race here in Sjusjoen with many of the top European teams. It will be a great opportunity to blow out the cobwebs and get a hard race experience in before the big stage in Sweden. I'm not sure whether there will be live video, but here is the event website. We will be wearing our new race suits:

Orange and purple, "a new interpretation of the American flag"

Other things I've been up to...

❤Visiting with the Pig to whom we fed our table scraps while in Utah. ❤ 
I did not get the memo about the team weightlifting uniform!

Erik took me out to dinner for my last night at home and an early birthday!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Official World Cup Team Announcement

On November 3rd, US Biathlon officially announced that I will be the fourth member of the women's World Cup team for World Cups 1-3. I will race in Sweden, Austria and Slovenia before Christmas, and then based on my performance I will either continue at the World Cup level or race on the IBU Cup to try to re-qualify for the World Cup.

Official announcement from US Biathlon
Coverage from the Portland Press Herald

October Trials Recap

I raced twice in October on the rollerski course in Jericho, Vermont as part of the trials process for World Cup qualification. There are four spots on US Biathlon's women's World Cup team, and two of them were already taken by pre-qualified athletes Susan Dunklee and Hannah Dreissigacker, based on their results from last year. So I and several other women at the races were vying for the other two spots.
Arriving at the shooting point
(Photo Erika Bailey)
Loading the clip into my rifle
(Photo Erika Bailey)
Prone shooting, with racers arriving in the background
(Photo Erika Bailey)
Leaving the range
(Photo Erika Bailey)
Annelies Cook was the favorite coming into the weekend and she earned her World Cup team spot decisively by winning both races. I met my goal of shooting 80% in Saturday's sprint race, finishing 2nd behind Annelies. She skied quite a bit faster than me, finishing 12 seconds ahead of me even though she skied one more penalty lap. But that is about where I expected to be in terms of my ski speed, coming off a hard block of training and a long summer. Maddie Phaneuf, our star young biathlete, was about 25 seconds behind me in 3rd place, also with 80% shooting.

Leading a pack
Going into Sunday's final trials competition, Maddie and I were close in the rankings. We both managed solid races to stay on the podium with Annelies, but we traded places from Saturday with Maddie edging me by 5 seconds to take 2nd place, with three misses compared to my four. When we added up the times from the two August trials races and two October trials races, my cumulative time was good enough for 2nd place behind Annelies, so I earned myself a trip to Utah for training and a shot at the World Cup.

For results and and press from the trials event, check out this Fasterskier article