Korean Lessons! 한국어 수업

Since June, I’ve been enjoying my new favorite hobby: Korean lessons!!! After spending last winter learning the basics on my own with a textbook and audio CD’s, I realized I needed help from a teacher in order to improve my speaking and listening abilities.

I was delighted when Seok Bae Jang, a professor at my alma-mater, Wellesley College, agreed to “meet” with me twice per week on-line. Neither of us had ever done a one-on-one digital class before but it has worked out great. Using Google Hangouts video/audio chat, we can have a conversation just as if we were sitting in the same room together. To help me learn new words, he writes on a mini whiteboard and holds it up to the camera for me to see.

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A page from my Korean workbook. I’m on book 2, chapter 10!

I am learning so much! But it is so much more difficult than any of the European languages I have previously studied that my progress feels slow. As of very recently I am able to piece together sentences on my own. Our lessons will end in mid-November when I head to Sweden for our first races but I will continue to practice on my own. My goal is to be able to communicate with Korean fans and volunteers in Pyeong-Chang, IF I am selected to represent Team USA at the Olympics.

Last February when I raced in Korea, the local people were so excited when I could say even just a few words. Learning another’s language is one of the greatest signs of respect, and in a time when the US is perhaps not viewed in the kindest light by our global neighbors I hope that my small voice can make a big impression.

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First snow of the year!

Last night it was 70 degrees at about 8pm in Lake Placid. I stood in awe of the warm, almost tropical breeze that would have been uncharacteristic even in July.

Then today it snowed… Training season is almost over! I haven’t blogged for a few months because my day-to-day biathlon training seems very monotonous. But since I know I have a few die-hard fans who are interested in the summertime work that breeds wintertime success, I offer this summary.

  • April: Rest. Some athletes emphasize “maintaining fitness” more than others.
  • May: Gradual reintegration into full-time training. On-snow camp in Bend, Oregon.
  • June: Increase the training volume and add high intensity. …It gets real!
  • July: Repeat the routine. “Just keep swimming!” (In sweat? In the lake? Both.)
  • August: Roller-ski races, recovery week, then ratchet back up the training.
  • September: Push through 3 weeks of t/draining camp.
  • October: Put one foot in front of the other.
  • November: On-snow camp in Canmore, AB, Canada!
  • December-March: Sleep in, eat delicious European hotel cuisine, ski on powdery white snow in gorgeous, sun-drenched Alpine hamlets, relax in the sauna… oh and compete on the world’s biggest biathlon stage in front of thousands of fans 3x/week!

You can see which part of the year I enjoy most, and which months are a struggle! During the training season, I do a mix of roller-skiing, hiking, biking, running, swimming, weightlifting and shooting. While going hiking with friends on a sunny day is an unquestionably cushy “job”, I also endure more than my fair share of cold, rainy roller-ski workouts, uphill running intervals, and Saturday afternoons inside the weight room. I think the hardest part is that I am often too tired at the end of the day to do normal-person things like go to trivia or see a movie.

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This is the reward! The challenge is roller-skiing up the Whiteface Mountain toll road to get here.
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Not sure if she’s my protégé or I’m hers, but Chloe Levins (age 19) is a great biathlete with whom I shared a room at my first training camp! Here we are hiking in the Adirondacks.
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My local training partner, and former UNH teammate, Elizabeth Izzo.
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Lake Placid as seen from McKenzie Mountain.
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Last lift of the 3-week September training camp!

Every year, June is the hardest month physically, and October is the hardest month mentally. All the training catches up with me in the Fall and by October I’m totally out of gas. That is by design. The hard part is almost over! With our Fall roller-ski races behind us (I won Sunday’s race!), I now have a week to recover before heading to Canmore, AB, Canada for our final 3-week training camp. I leave for Europe five weeks from today. By then I will be rested and ready to go.

 

Once our competition season is underway we really don’t train that much. It’s all relative, but for us, “not much” means a daily 20-minute morning jog followed by stretching and dry-firing (indoor shooting practice without bullets), a 1-2hr ski, and maybe another jog and/or core strength. The total training time rarely exceeds 2 hours per day. That’s compared to an average of around 4 hours per day in the summer.

Still, I did have time to do some fun things this summer, including: attend two weddings in Maine, surprise my parents for father’s day with both of my brothers, watch a NASCAR race in New Hampshire and go camping afterwards, go to my Egan family reunion in Wisconsin, spend a week at the Jersey shore with my boyfriend and his family, watch the Travers Day Stakes horse race in Saratoga Springs, NY, host friends from high school and college in Lake Placid, travel to Colorado to visit friends and attend my cousin’s wedding, sail on Mirror Lake (in my back yard), go apple-picking, and work in the Lake Placid community garden. This weekend my boyfriend and I are going to Montreal for two nights before I fly out on Monday morning for our camp in Canmore, Alberta.

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NASCAR with Erik and Paul!
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Erik and I took Maura and Kenny hiking during their visit to Lake Placid.
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Apple picking!
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Visiting Alex in Frisco, Colorado.
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Hiking at 10,000ft+ in Frisco, Colorado.
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Summit of the minds… US Biathlon Women (+our fan/my neighbor, Brian) congregated on my porch during a training camp.
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We saw three double rainbows from my porch during June. Can you say LUCKY?
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Success! Our Lake Placid Girls with Guns clinic brought 20 girls and enough enthusiasm and curiosity to keep me motivated for the rest of the summer.
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One of the most spectacular hikes I’ve done! Boothe Lake Trail outside of Vail, Colorado.
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A gorgeous hike in Vail with my childhood friend who lives out there, Mary-Kate.

I am pre-qualified for the three pre-Christmas World Cups in Sweden, Austria and France. At those events, my goal is to to meet our team’s minimum Olympic qualification standard of 30th place. If I meet that benchmark, and no more than 1 of my teammates has a better result following the end of World Cup 3 in France, then I will officially be named to the team. I am sure I can do it!

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On October 15th, I won the last of 4 World Cup trials roller-ski races, shooting 0,1 and edging out Emily Dreissigacker (0,1) and Maddie Phaneuf (0,0) in a very tight race.