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Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Last weekend marked the annual sweat-fest known as roller-ski biathlon championships. I came away with bronze in the sprint (1,3), and a silver in the mass start (0,1,1,1). Hitting 7/10 in the sprint was not my best, but 17/20 in the mass start ties my best shooting for a 4-stage race. I was chasing after the unstoppable Susan Dunklee and Joanne Firesteel Reid. We leave for training camp in Germany next week. Go U.S. Biathlon Women!
|Sprinting at the rollerski biathlon championships. Photo Katrina Howe|
Monday, May 9, 2016
I was recently named to the US Biathlon A Team for the second year. Based on my two top-25 World Cup finishes from the past season, I moved up to the A2 tier from A3. Here is the official announcement. Congratulations to my teammates, old and new.
Saturday, April 2, 2016
I spend most of my time on the road. To help my readers understand what that is like, I tried to take a picture of each bed I slept in this year. It is hard to keep track of all the placed I've been, so I referred to my US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) log online. As a member of the national team, I have to tell USADA where I am at all times so they can find me for random drug testing. According to my USADA log, I spent 126 days at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY between April 1, 2015 and April 1, 2016. Otherwise, I was on the road, sleeping in more than 40 different places!
|"Home." I spend 2-3 weeks per year here.|
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
|"The Closet." I lived here for 4 years. Now I spend 2-3 weeks per year here.|
Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Craftsbury, VT
|"Room 244." I spent more time here than|
anywhere else last year, about 18 weeks.
Olympic Training Center, Lake Placid, NY
|Summer Vacation with the Lewishes|
Cape May, NJ
|Visiting Maura and Kenny at the Whitebloom's|
Cape May, NJ
|The barracks at Ethan Allen Military Base. We spend 3-4 weekends here|
every summer training and racing on rollerskis.
|Fall Training Camp|
|Wearing the "happy pants" at World Cup 1|
|World Cup 3|
|Christmas with my family in Europe|
|New Year's with Erik|
|One night in transit|
|Sleeping with Annelies at World Cup 4|
|A palatial triple room at World Cup 5|
|Pull-out couch, World Cup 6|
|World Cup 8 at Northern Maine Community College|
|Egan Media Studio/Guestroom|
|Sjusjøen, Skisenter. We trained here for a week in November and Frebruary.|
|The king of biathlon watches over me at World Champs|
|US National Championships|
Fort Kent, Maine
|And as a bonus, here is a picture of every item of clothing I wore between|
November 16th and March 26th. (Dirndl not shown.)
Monday, March 28, 2016
My season finale began last Monday at 6am in Khanty-Mansyisk, Russia (which is in the same time zone as Islamabad, 10 hours ahead of Eastern Standard). Fourty-eight hours later I was pulling into Fort Kent, Maine for US National Championships.
|Clear skies, sunny, cold, mid-winter conditions in Fort Kent|
Photo: Pete Freeman Photography
As I tried to reverse my days and nights, my body went onto auto-pilot and did great work for me in two out of three races. In the 7.5k sprint on Thursday I shot 1,0 and bested the field by a minute and a half. I was so happy to clean standing for only the fourth time this winter. The top American woman biathlete, Susan Dunklee, couldn't make it to Fort Kent due to illness but all our other national team members and aspiring biathletes were present so the competition was small but high-level. In Friday's pursuit, I extended my lead to over two minutes, shooting 1,0,1,1. I was very happy with 85% shooting and another gold medal.
|Sprint podium: I won, Joanne Ried 2nd, Hannah Dreissigacker 3rd.|
In the pursuit, Annelies moved into 3rd.
On Friday night my body started to protest; I did not sleep a wink and as the sun came up I got a little feverish. I safely completed the 12.5k mass start but it wasn't pretty. I shot 0,1,3,2 and skied survival pace. I am so proud of my teammate Annelies for cleaning her final shooting stage to win the last biathlon race of the season and her career! And as she and Hannah retire from this sport, it was great to see up-and-coming biathlete Joanne Reid on the podium in 2nd place all three days.
|Zeroing before the race.|
Photo: Pete Freeman Photography
I am back in Lake Placid now with the full-blown flu. Time to take a break from biathlon and blogging! Check back in the spring!
Sunday, March 20, 2016
The title sums it up! After traveling all the way to central Russia, ten time zones away from the US east coast, my goal for Thursday's sprint race was to finish in the top 60 and earn a start spot for Saturday's pursuit race. In my two most recent sprints I have skied and shot well enough to qualify for the pursuit; in Maine at World Cup 8 I missed one shot (0,1) and finished 32nd, and in Oslo at World Championships had the same shooting and would have placed in the mid 40's if it weren't for forgetting my penalty loop and getting smacked with a 2-minute time penalty.
|A warm welcome to a cold place, at the Khanty-Mansyisk airport.|
Unfortunately I was unable to repeat that good shooting thrice. I started out with clean prone shooting once again and faster skiing than I've done most of the season. Then when I came in for standing I was nervous, shaking, and not lucid enough mentally to take the necessary steps to calm my body down. Instead of relaxing onto the target, I was fighting against the natural aim of the rifle and using tension to try to get onto it. This is an instinctive response but it does not work! In my mid-race state of mind, I forgot Lesson Number One from my first biathlon coach, Algis Shalna: "Do not try to hit the target!"
|Algis Shalna, my first biathlon coach, is a hero here.|
He became Lithuania's first winter Olympic medalist when
he won gold for the USSR in the 1984 Olympic biathlon relay.
Alas trying to hit the target didn't work, and I missed three standing targets, tying my worst shooting performance of the year. I skied as hard as a could to the finish, knowing I would be very close to the top-60 cut off. When all was said and done I was 63rd, about 10 seconds too slow. I would not get another opportunity to race. Siberia is a long way to go for one 20-minute race and my team spent precious funds to send me here. It was so disappointing. If I had hit my last target, or shot as fast as the average World Cup shooter, I would have made it. But each penalty loop takes about 25 seconds, and I am still the slowest shooter in most races, with shooting times around 40 seconds-- that's 10-15+ seconds lost to the fastest person per stage. Biathlon lends itself to the "what if" game, which is as unproductive as it is tempting.
|Tim Burke finished 6th in the sprint, making it into the Flower Ceremony!|
Here he is with our World Cup 9 staff L-R: Jean, Gara, Tim, Fede, and Max.
|Russian dolls waiting to hand out flowers and medals.|
|Tim followed up his season-best sprint with another 6th place in the pursuit!|
This year I finished the World Cup season ranked 67th overall, by virtue of my three top-40 results (16th, 23rd, 32nd), each of which earned me a corresponding number of World Cup Points. Last year, I was the last ranked person on the list, having placed 40th exactly once to earn a single point. While I am happy with my improvement overall, and especially in terms of my average shooting percentage (64% last year versus 79% this year), 67th is a hard place to be because I am often just outside the qualifying cut-off for the pursuit. With relatively few race opportunities, it is hard to improve.
|Here I am riding a reindeer-drawn sleigh (usually reserved for medal-winners).|
For the last three days I have been cheering for my teammates and continuing to train in preparation for US National Championships in Fort Kent, Maine, which take place next weekend and will be my last races of the season. I may have failed to meet my goal in this week's race but DON'T WORRY!!! I am going to get first place at the World Cup finals dance party tonight.
|Selfie with Jean. He is our head development coach and|
our only coach here this week. Usually he does not travel
on the World Cup level so this is a fun change of faces.
Friday, March 18, 2016
Check out this high speed footage of sledding in Oslo, or as the Norwegians think we call it, sledging.
Starring: Guy, Graham, Peter, Ley, a gordon setter dog who looked just like the one we had growing up ("Jake"), and every bump on the trail! Narrated by me.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
The 2016 World Championships started off in a crazy way that I never would have planned-- with a stupid mistake and a two-minute time penalty in my first race. After cleaning prone in the 7.5k sprint, I overcame a miss on my first standing shot to hit the next four. With only one miss out of ten shots, I knew I would finish well inside the top 60 to qualify for the pursuit, and maybe even score World Cup points by finishing in the top 40. I was thrilled as I left the range, savoring the final four hits. Then, just as I should have merged right into the penalty loop, one of the fastest skiers on the World Cup passed me on my left. In one instant of distraction, I jumped into her draft and all hope of a good result was lost. Half way around the course I had a moment of panic as I started to question with my oxygen-deficient brain whether or not I had gone into the penalty loop. Upon crossing the finish line I checked the live results and saw the asterisk next to my name in 84th place. I was embarrassed on behalf of our team staff and coaches and devastated that one of my best races of the winter was doomed. I had no choice but to try to forget about it.
|View of downtown Oslo from our hotel up at the Holmenkollen venue.|
With the pursuit off my schedule, I only had two more races, the 15k individual and the 4x6k women's relay. The individual was mediocre; I had one bad shooting stage (0, 3, 0, 1) that derailed the effort. In that event, instead of skiing the penalty loop, there is a 1-minute time penalty for each miss, so the shooting is even more important. My ski time rank was ok but not great, in the low 50's.
Ole Einar Bjorndahlen, the Norwegian biathlon "king"
adds to his extensive medal collection at age 42.
adds to his extensive medal collection at age 42.
In the women's relay, we had our best shooting performance of the year, with only 8 spare rounds used among the four of us. (Each person can use up to three spares per stage if needed, so a total of 6 spares per person). And we did not have any penalty loops! However lots of other teams also shot really well, and they skied faster than us so we ended up 13th. We were still content with our good performance. Hannah and Annelies are both retiring after this season and these were the last World Cup/World Championship races for them. I am very sad to see them go. They have taught me so much!
|L-R: Susan, Hannah, me, Annelies|
|In the fog! Bad news when you can't see the target from the shooting mat.|
L-R: Coach Jonne, me, Susan, Hannah, Annelies, wax tech Gara
The best thing about World Championships was that I had both my brothers as well as two good friends in attendance. Guy and Graham made the trip for the 2nd time, having also attended 2015 World Championships in Finland. They cheered for every race in all their USA gear. My friend Ley, who lives in Oslo, was kind enough to host my other friend Peter who flew in from England for the weekend. We all went sledding together, which Norwegians believe is called "sledging" in English. Oslo has an awesome sledding route accessible by public transport. You take the tram to the top of the mountain, rent a sled, then hit the track for about 8 minutes of downhill, and then (if you survive!!!) you take the tram back up to the top, 5 stops.
|L-R: Guy, me, Graham, Peter and Ley (decked out in USBA gear!)|
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Check out my Facebook athlete page and also "like" the cause Protect Clean Athletes! (You may need to log-in to Facebook to see the image below.)
Friday, March 4, 2016
After the Maine World Cup, I spent a week in Lake Placid (with my boyfriend 😄) before heading to Norway for a pre-World Championships training camp in Sjosjøen. It was a winter paradise there with tons of snow and sunshine!
|Sjusjøen, Norway. No wonder they are so good at skiing.|
Photo Jonne Kahkonen
|Susan, Hannah and I went for a long ski on the famous Birkebeiner Trail.|
You may have to login to Facebook to watch.
|Each athlete at this year's World Championships was given a selfie stick...|
On March first, Hannah and I observed the Balkan holiday Martenitsa by giving red and white yarn bracelets to some of the Bulgarian team. Our Craftsbury GRP coach, Pepa, did this for us every year to celebrate the coming of "Baba Marta," or Grandmother March/spring. The tradition goes that you exchange bracelets and then when you see either a stork or budding fruit tree, you hang your bracelet on the tree and make a wish. I was delighted when I gave a bracelet to one of the athletes and he pulled a bracelet out of his pocket for me!!! Check out my Martenitsa blog post from 2014.
|We had to look up "how to" online. There is a secret to making|
the two colors of yarn stay twisted.
Some of my teammates, staff and I attended the World Championships opening ceremony on Wednesday night. I have become our team's go-to flag-bearer. As the "rookie" it is my duty to ensure our top athletes can rest their legs back at the hotel. Also, no one else wants to do it! So both this year and last I had the honor of carrying the stars and stripes.
|Back row L-R: me, Jonne, Jonas, Tim, Leif, Sean.|
And in front our young Norwegian escort!
|As seen on TV|
My first race is tomorrow at 2:30pm local time. I am wearing bib 47, starting at 2:53:30. I am excited to race on this course because it suits me well with steady climbs followed by long rest. On the shooting range I have been calm and confident lately so I hope to carry that through the week. My brothers arrive tomorrow morning from the US in time to see the afternoon race! My friend Ley, who lives here in Oslo, will also be in the stands, and my friend Peter is flying over from England to watch next weekend. Let the games begin!