A Quick Look Back Before the Long Winter Ahead

With the last camp of the training season behind me, I’m taking one final look backwards before turning my focus to winter. As always, I can’t wait for the racing to begin!

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Our June national team training camp was in Lake Placid, as seen here from Whiteface Mountain.
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We use a rollerski treadmill for technique work, because you can easily tell which techniques are more efficient or faster when you keep the treadmill at a constant speed.
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In addition to many hours of long-distance skiing and running, we do jumps (plyometrics) to train our muscles to be fast and powerful. This set of stairs at Lake Placid’s 1980 Olympic ski jumps provides more than enough steps.
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In July our women’s team headed to Europe for three weeks. We kicked off the camp in Corrençon-en-Vercors, France with Finnish biathlon superstar Kaisa Makarainen. (L-R: Chloe, Susan, Clare, Kaisa, Hallie, coach Mike).
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For the first time ever, the US Biathlon Team has a vehicle sponsor!!! Thank Auto Eder for the car and Maloja for the design. Coach Armin approves.
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After 10 days in France we drove to Armin’s hometown of Antholz, Italy. There we found snow above 3000 meters;
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…and green grass in the valley;
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…and Aperol Spritzes at the end of the hike by the lake!
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We did a lot of spectacular hiking. These cows enjoy great scenery.
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The Drei Zinnen (3 summits) near Dobbiaco, Italy, is a popular Dolomite hike for good reason.
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Back in the States in August, we had our annual summer rollerski biathlon races in Jericho, Vermont. I didn’t feel great skiing but I shot well and came away with a gold and a silver.
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From Jericho we drove to Craftsbury, Vermont for a week-long training camp. Lake Willoughby in Barton, VT, seen here from Mount Pisgah, is one of the most scenic local attractions.
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For my “days off” in August, I traveled to Munich, Germany for a long-weekend of IBU Executive Board Meetings. Here I am with my fellow board members.
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Our September camp in Lake Placid was well-timed for fall foliage.

Also in September, I had the privilege of joining the US Ski Team for a few workouts while they were in town for a camp. I learned a lot doing skate sprints with Jessie Diggins and Sophie Caldwell, shown here.

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In October we traveled west for our final training camp. We did three rollerski races to determine our World Cup team for December. I only competed in two due to fatigue but came away with a win in the mass start (pictured above).
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By the end of our Utah camp there was snow on the ground and it dropped below 0 Fahrenheit. And I think I have a standing position I like!

Susan Dunklee, Joanne Reid, Emily Dreissigacker and I will once again be representing US Biathlon in December’s World Cups. You can read the full team naming, including the men’s team and IBU Cup (2nd tier) team here. Last winter, our women’s team only had three World Cup start spots for non-relay events, but thanks to our good results we will be able to start four women in every race for the 2019-2020 season!

Overall I think this has been my best training season. I did deal with some minor issues: a neck (trapezius) spasm in June required eight days of rest and meant I couldn’t shoot normally for a month; I had a random flare-up of peroneal tendonitis (maybe) in September that required a walking boot cast for 2.5 weeks but which didn’t prevent me from rollerskiing; and I had a hard time eating enough calories in Utah to keep up with the training volume plus the added stress of high altitude which resulted in fatigue and as a consequence, skipping a race and some workouts. But these things are all trivial to an elite athlete in the grand scheme of things.

Since May I’ve had 22 rest days, 12 travel days, and 3 sick days. I’ve shot over 9,000 rounds, rollerskied for almost 200 hours and run for 100. In past years I’ve always had at least one whole month when I felt horrible, but not this year! I’ve felt mostly good, most of the time, and that’s all I can ask for.

I fly to Austria on November 9th. My return flight is on March 24th. Wish me luck!

Circling Around

Soon after my competition season ended on March 31, I set off for a two-week business school program followed by a month-long trip that took me to four countries across nine time zones. It wasn’t a particularly restful break, but as you may recall I was not planning a break but rather a retirement!

I put the planning on hold in November so I could focus on the present. In my experience it’s almost impossible to simultaneously succeed at your job and evaluate whether or not to continue doing it. I wanted to give myself the greatest chance for success in my final season of biathlon.

Before I knew it, my “one more year just for fun” was over and I was back in Lake Placid quietly going through withdrawal, coming off a winter-long high. Everything had gone way better than I expected! The first seven years of my professional athletic career were so tedious that I had lost touch with the fun that motivated me to pursue it in the first place. “One more year just for fun” was such an unlikely aspiration that I never even considered what I would do if it actually was fun.

This year showed me that you can’t plan for everything. I did not expect to be one of the most-improved athletes on the World Cup, or to earn enough money to call this a “real job.” My body did incredible things for me every week that I didn’t know were possible. My work on the IBU Athletes’ Committee and Executive Board gave me the outlet for altruism I had longed for in this selfish pursuit, while introducing me to new friends who became the support community I previously lacked on the road. With my new coach, I learned and laughed every day. Our team environment was more inclusive and supportive than before, and our women’s program thrived as a result. I had great results last winter but more importantly I had a blast. When I think about all that, I am more motivated than ever to continue my biathlon career.

That being said, I was very much at peace with my decision to move on. Remember when I threw my rollerskis in the trashcan in November? It felt so good. I said goodbye to a lot of things last year that I am reluctant to greet again. Perhaps my greatest source of distress is the incompatibility between my biathlon career and my relationship. Opting for 250 travel days is a choice that gets harder to make every year.

But if I think about next winter… about snowflakes starting to fall in late October, packing my suitcase in the darkness of November, feeling my body sharpen into form, filling my lungs with cold air, wearing a USA uniform, waiting at the starting line, hitting targets, flying on skis, waving to fans… I am so, so, so excited. 

Our team’s sports psychologist offers a great analogy for how to approach retirement: it’s like landing a plane. You have to plan ahead– you don’t want to just drop out of the sky– but as you make your final approach, you can always pull up the landing gear and circle around again.

Last year when I was wavering, I took my brother Graham’s advice which was, “Real life is the pits; you gotta keep the dream alive!” As I contemplated a transition to “real life” this spring, I thought to myself, “I want a job where I can be active and outside, where every day is different, I can use my language skills to connect with people from around the world, represent my country, travel, work as part of a team… and as a bonus I would like to do some kind of live performance.”

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It’s a good feeling to know you are doing exactly what you should be doing! This year Graham said, “Make them claw your ski career from your dead hands.” I don’t know if I’ll go that far, but for now I am circling around.

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Spring is not really a thing in Lake Placid, New York. (More on that later.) Here’s Mirror Lake on April 5th. It finally melted out about a month later. I didn’t stick around.
Next Step April 2019 Spirit Day (1)
I spent the first two weeks of April attending an intensive business school program at Dartmouth College called Tuck Next Step, for elite athletes and military veterans. I was deeply humbled by the achievements and service of my classmates. We had class every day from 9-6, including on the weekend! I learned a lot, including that I am not ready for any occupation that requires me to be seated indoors from 9-6 every day.
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Then I flew back to Europe, where I saw the first green grass of spring!
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I went ski touring in Antholz, Italy. Basically you walk up the mountain on skis and then ski down. The equipment is similar to what you use for normal downhill skiing, except lighter, and the heel can detach for walking up. On the way up you put this thin carpet-like thing under your ski so you don’t slip backwards. It was scary but very cool, and I was happy to be surrounded by snow again.
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My reason for flying back to Europe after only a few weeks at home was that I needed to attend a 3-day meeting of the International Biathlon Union Executive Board in Munich, Germany. (I threw in the ski touring in Antholz to sweeten the deal for myself.) It is extremely important for an athlete representative to participate in these meetings!
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Finally, VACATION! I flew from Munich to Los Angeles and settled into a lovely poolside hotel room in Palm Springs, California, with my boyfriend. Neither of us had ever been to southern California.
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We went camping for two nights in Joshua Tree, National Park. I’m grateful for any chance I get to see a new landscape, and this was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
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From Joshua Tree, we drove over some mountains and out of the desert to coastal San Diego, where it’s sunny and beautiful every day. This photo was taken in Balboa Park.
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We got tacos and had a picnic on Sunset Cliffs.
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Piña Colada time after surfing at Pacific Beach! We also rode electric scooters on the boardwalk that day, which I was better at than surfing.
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Next I flew to Bend, Oregon for my first… training camp. I wasn’t really ready for it mentally, but luckily training in Bend is pretty much as close to vacationing as you can get while still calling it training.
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Back on skis in Bend, Oregon.
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Following Armin to the end of the Earth. Later that same day we went sunbathing at the river beach. #lifegoals
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Regarding the decision to continue with biathlon, Susan and I agreed that we are definitely committed to “doing this camp!”
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Back in Lake Placid just in time for rainbow season: the thing that happens between winter and summer here, from late May to late June. Here’s Mirror Lake on May 19.

Happy rainbow season to everyone. Don’t give up!

2019 World Cup Highlight Reel

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Surprise! I was one of the fastest skiers at World Cup 1 in Slovenia!
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After finishing 15th in the sprint, I made my first Flower Ceremony (6th) in the pursuit.
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This is what satisfaction looks like!
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I’ll never forget my first flowers!
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One week later at World Cup 2 in Austria I got 65th in the sprint! But my brother Graham was there to cheer me up. And I redeemed myself in the women’s relay.
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Riding in style from Austria to Czech with our ski technicians, Gara (Left) and Federico.
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At World Cup 3 in Czech I had three more good races and qualified for the mass start. It was the first time I was ranked in the top-25 of the overall score, where I would stay the whole season. 
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I spent Christmas with my brother in Switzerland and then resumed training in Antholz, Italy.
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The man behind the magic! Coach Armin.
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At World Cup 4 in Oberhof, we had 2 women in the top-15 for the first time ever!
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In the relay, I was leading the race and then had a total meltdown. Bummer.
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I got myself back in a good mood for World Cup 5, and then had another total meltdown.
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So I went to the “wax tech party” and exorcised my demons by singing “Don’t Stop Believin.”
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And then I had a fabulous time racing in Antholz at World Cup 6!
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Then I got sick and raced in -4F in Canada.
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Then I got healthy and raced in 45F in the USA!!
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My boyfriend was in the audience, along with almost 40 other friends and family members.
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The first annual Athletes’ Committee Valentine’s Day Flower Sale: we sold 200 carnations and used the money to buy each team a bottle of champagne. Season Highlight!!!
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2019 World Championships had ups and downs.
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I kicked things off with my best sprint result: 11th place. But later I mistakenly skied an extra penalty loop IN TWO DIFFERENT RACES, and had to put Rifey in timeout.
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A historic relay day: Our team was in 2nd place until the very end. I shot clean and tagged in 1st! We eventually finished 9th, the best World’s finish ever for American women.
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Finally! In the last race of the season I set out to get on the podium and voila, bronze in Oslo.
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I knew I could do it.
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This pretty much sums it up!

The Bed Blog 2018-2019

Between April 1, 2018 and April 1, 2019 I was at my home base in Lake Placid, New York for about 130 nights. I spent the other 235 nights on the road, in the beds pictured below in chronological order.

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My grandmother’s house, Falmouth, Maine
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Mary-Kate’s bedroom, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
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Washington, D.C.
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Green Bay, Wisconsin
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Jericho, Vermont
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Lancaster, Pennsylvania
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Burlington, Vermont
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Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Craftsbury, Vermont
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“Ithaca”, Kamp Kohut, Oxford, Maine
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My bedroom, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
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Jackson, New Hampshire
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Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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Catskills, New York
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North Star Resort, California
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Truckee, California
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Berkeley, California
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Mountain View, California
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Portola Valley, California
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Heber, Utah
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Perpetually packing or unpacking, my bedroom, Lake Placid, New York
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The Whiteface Lodge, Lake Placid, New York
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Obertilliach, Austria
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Obertilliach, Austria
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Leni’s bedroom, Rasun, Italy
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Bled, Slovenia
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Hochfilzen, Austria
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Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech
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Lausanne, Switzerland
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Antholz, Italy: the first room. “I’ve been here for less than twelve hours.”
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Antholz, Italy: the room where I quarantined Erik when he got a cold
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Antholz, Italy: the room where I quarantined myself from Erik when I got the stomach bug
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Oberhof, Germany
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Ruhpolding, Germany
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Antholz, Italy (view from bed)
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Airport hotel, Munich, Germany
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Canmore, Alberta, Canada
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Midway, Utah
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Park City, Utah
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Sollefteå, Sweden
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Sollefteå, Sweden
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Ostersund, Sweden
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Oslo, Norway
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Essex, Vermont

 

Not pictured:

Airplane over the Atlantic Ocean (3x)
Camp Peggy O’Brian, Adirondack Park, New York
Boston, Massachusetts
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Cancun, Mexico
New York City, New York
Stuart, Florida
Graz, Austria
Ried im Innkreis, Austria
Saalfelden, Austria
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Two other locations in Washington, D.C.

Getting Ready

Every year the same thing happens: it’s summer and then suddenly I’m racing tomorrow. In the annual cycle of biathlon, fall is the season of acceleration. We literally increase our speed in training as the days flip by, each one shorter than the last. Now, on the eve of the World Cup opener, there’s a palpable break in that momentum, a pause for one last deep breath. Here’s a reflection on the final months of preparation.

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In September my dad and I both rode 50 miles for the Kelly Brush Foundation. I did so in a new biking jersey from our team sponsor, Maloja. He did so with a new hip!
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We had a 2-week training camp in Lake Placid in September, which meant I got to sleep in my own bed, and wake up each day to this view: Mirror Lake, 7am, living up to its name.
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Erik and I celebrated the end of my training camp with our favorite fall tradition: afternoon apple-picking excursion followed by Sunday Night Football at Buffalo Wild Wings in the big city of Plattsburgh, NY.
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In the end of September I had “holiday week” written on my training plan! I went on a solo vacation to Montreal and visited 3 spas in 3 days. 100% would recommend and will do again.
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The second half of my holiday week was well-spent with my friends Maura and Kenny at a campsite in the Catskills.
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Fall arrived in Lake Placid on schedule, with peak foliage by September 21.
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Fall in the northeast = daily training in the rain = daily cleaning the rifle.

In October, I escaped the rainy northeast for a month of altitude training in the sunny west. My cousin got married in Truckee, CA just one week before our team training camp was scheduled to begin in Utah. I was able to attend her wedding, spend a week training in a cool place, and then visit some friends in the Bay Area on my days off before flying to the camp. It was one of those rare moments when my training schedule aligned with my personal life in such a way that enabled me to fully commit to both.

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My travel day started at dawn with a drive to Vermont, followed by a roller-ski time trial, and then a curbside pack job (including a firearm) at the Burlington airport.
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Tahoe Rim Trail. Add it to your list!
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Hard to beat the scenery and weather that the Lake Tahoe area has to offer.
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Thanks to Auburn Ski Club in Truckee, CA for hosting me for a week of training!
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This is why people move to California: October weather in Berkeley! After a week of training in Truckee, I headed to the Bay Area for a few days off before our team camp.

In mid-October, My teammates and I settled in for our last tough camp of the year. In eight years of full-time training, I have never (I repeat, NEVER) emerged psychologically sound from a three-week camp. Usually I get depressed. It’s the combination of severe physical fatigue, social isolation, and lack of life-balance that gets me. I even warned my new coach, Armin, ahead of time that I might need to leave early. But I am so happy to report that I not only survived this camp, but I really thrived. We did a lot of fun things.

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This was the first camp in memory where the women and men lived all together in one big house (coincidentally the same rental house I stayed at in 2013 with the Craftsbury Green Racing Project!). I really enjoyed living all together. Sean and Susan (above) have a lot of shared interests including woodworking, freshwater ecology, and NFL stats.

Paul and I shared a bathroom for three weeks. The teammates that brush together…

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Pumpkin painting, organized by Joanne!!!
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Judging by the look on my face, I may actually have had more fun at this camp than anyone else…or maybe just more glühwein.
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Susan and I are studying Russian and enjoyed doing so together in the Utah sun.
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Sometimes at training camps I need a reason to celebrate. Hence the Ofrenda (alter) for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead.) I lit it up on November 1st so my dead ancestors could cross over into the world of the living. My teammates are used to this kind of shenanigan by now.
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These bro’s… can you imagine the collective caloric intake? I especially enjoyed getting to know Vasek (front right) who is more than 10 years younger than me and was at his first National Team camp. Sean (thumbs up in the back) was happy too– after many years, he is no longer the youngest!
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Olympic Champion Michel Greis, as Mickey Mouse, on his first American Halloween.
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Mike Gibson and I shared the role of some promiscuous lady named Tiara at the Halloween murder mystery dinner. Yes I am wearing a physiotherapy band as a tie.
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Despite what my photos so far imply, we actually did a lot of training at this camp. Here’s a pic of Suz and me rollin’ up Guardsman’s pass among the aspen trees towards Park City.
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After three long weeks of camp, we emptied our energy tanks with three roller-ski races. I felt strong skiing in all the races. As for the shooting, I had two great ones and one inexplicably terrible one. Biathlon!
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After a terrible second race, I reset for the final Mass Start race with a winning attitude. I haven’t won a race in years but I won this one in convincing fashion. It was a great way to finish the camp and start the transition to the racing season.
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I returned to Lake Placid for one week after the Utah camp. The weather was terrible, as expected. I love my Salomon boots and thank Finnsisu store for the Marwe roller-skis. But there comes a time, after several years of daily use and one final excruciating week of rolling in inclement weather, that it is right and proper to deposit them directly into the trash can. AND BOY DOES IT FEEL GOOD.
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I flew to Europe about a week before my teammates, foreseeing that my tolerance for November roller-skiing would be exceptionally low (see above). On my birthday, November 19th, my teammates and I reconvened at the Munich headquarters of our new apparel sponsor, Maloja. We are SO LUCKY. Our clothes look awesome and are super high quality. All the other teams are so jealous.
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In my first on-snow race of the year, I shot 10/10 and reached my first international podium. This was a great way to start the season!
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This is the training bib that I will wear every day of the season. It is my trail pass, and one of my more precious biathlon souvenirs. This is #5 for me. 

And suddenly, it’s here: the culmination of millions of heartbeats, countless exhausting workouts, weeks upon weeks of training, and three long seasons of preparation. Winter starts tomorrow. It’s go time. Snow time! Show time.

I’m in great shape. The shooting feels easy. I’m healthy and strong. I’m confident and happy. It’s in stark contrast to last year, when my pre-race blog post was about how it’s impossible to know if you are in good form. When you know, you know.

I have Armin to thank for this year. I’ve only had a few truly great coaches in my life, and he is one of them. The relationship between coach and athlete is so complicated, and only becomes more nuanced as the athlete advances and the two become increasingly intertwined in work and life. I feel lucky to have experienced this relationship in all its complexity. It’s something most adults will never know. No matter what happens tomorrow, or during the rest of the upcoming season, I will always remember this year fondly. I made the right choice to stick around.

Still just as tired, but this time more content

Ever since deciding in May to continue doing biathlon for one more year, I’ve been going full steam ahead. From the outside my lifestyle looks very much the same: practice twice a day, skiing and shooting, teetering between training hard and training too hard. But this year, I’m having a lot more fun and making discernible progress!

My new coach, Armin, is a really good fit for me, both in character and work style, which makes an enormous difference. And as a team we have upgraded our training regimen from a quotidian slog in Lake Placid to two weeks of intensive camp followed by two weeks of independent training. In this rhythm we balance periods of focussed learning with time to process, practice, and recover.

Even with the built-in recovery block, I’ve had some mental and physical breakdowns because I’m training harder during the camp weeks than I ever did previously. But Armin is receptive to my feedback so we are working out the kinks of the physical training plan. Meanwhile my shooting is definitely improving!

I’m also growing into my new role as the Chair of the IBU Athletes’ Committee. I want to do the job well so I find myself devoting hours each week to it. I’ve enjoyed getting to know my colleagues, Martin Fourcade (France), Erik Lesser (Germany), and Aita Gasparin (Switzerland). In September the IBU will convene its biennial Congress, at which delegates from the national federations will vote on a motion put forth by our Committee to create a seat on the Executive Board for the Athletes’ Committee Chair. If it passes, athletes will secure a long-overdue voice within the IBU leadership, and I will have significantly more responsibility– but I am up to the challenge!

To summarize, I’m just as physically empty as I’ve been in past summers, but more emotionally fulfilled. Here’s a photo recap of this busy spring and summer so far.

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First time on a red carpet: Team USA Awards night in Washington D.C. in April.
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My Olympic Ring!
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My German colleague Erik Lesser and me at our first Athletes’ Committee meeting in Austria in May.
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Starting from scratch with a new stock.
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Upgrade from wood to carbon fiber by Bachmann Biathlon.
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Not target practice. If I can shoot a standing group smaller than the target when aiming at literally nothing, how do I ever miss, you might wonder?
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I thought I was done with roller-skis, but alas here I am, rolling into the new season.
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Cross-training
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First camp of the year in June!
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This is how we do it!
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Lake Placid, as seen from Whiteface Mountain
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Snack time on the way to training with Susan, #Tired.
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Our first women’s camp, organized by Susan to bring together national team women and other top women who share the same goals.
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New Favorite Activity
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New Sponsor #MALOJA! We LOVE it!
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Smiles and heat exhaustion at the 2018 Beach to Beacon 10k in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Photo by Chris Conti, http://www.spectaclehill.com.
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Roller-ski racing in Jericho, VT in August. My body was tired and not performing at high capacity so I focussed on good shooting and came through with a podium finish in the mass start.
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Training Camp in Craftsbury, VT, featuring a highlight trip to the Barton County Fair demo-derby.
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Core workout in the idyllic scenery of Susan’s backyard
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When two athletes try to fit a quick jam session into the eat-sleep-train routine…

Thanks for following!

Something to Give

After a year of uncertainty and six weeks of stressful internal debate, I finally made a decision about my athletic future. Here’s a look at the somewhat convoluted thought process that led to my decision.

Biathlon is really hard work. And over the past two years, I haven’t felt like my hard work paid off. That may come as a surprise to those of you who are thinking, “You made the Olympic team!” But zoom in and you’ll see that my results have plateaued and my shooting accuracy has trended downward since 2016. The macro-level success of qualifying for the Olympics was couched in a bed of micro-level failures that have predominantly shaped my day-to-day attitude and emotions.

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2018 Olympics Sprint: I finished 61st, failing to qualify for the Pursuit by 1 place and less than 2 seconds.

Qualifying for the team is but a brief moment in the timeline of the Olympic experience. The true goal of every self-respecting athlete is not just to qualify but to perform well once you are there. My one perfect, glorious performance in the women’s relay was not enough to outshine my mediocre individual results. The Olympics were arguably US Biathlon’s worst showing at any international event in the last four years. To say morale was low would be an understatement. This agony of defeat is real.

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The thrill of victory: In my first race after the Olympics I set a personal-best of 13th at World Cup 7 in Finland.

I never thought I would want to continue after this season. But there was one fundamental thing I didn’t predict: with the Olympics behind me, I feel liberated! I feel like I can go and do my sport because I want to. I can have fun with it. I don’t have to worry about meeting this or that minimum qualification standard. I can instead focus on learning and improving and enjoying the remaining moments of my life as a professional athlete. In sports psychology lingo, I can shift back into a “growth mindset.”

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Never gets old: I love racing in front of huge crowds of screaming fans.

There are also a number of major changes on my team that make me feel optimistic about the future. First of all, I will have a new coach, Armin Auchentaller. I know it’s the right time for this change and I think he’s the right person for the job. Second, our team is shifting away from a full-time, Lake Placid-based training model to a camp system: two weeks of focussed and supervised training camp, then two weeks of self-directed training at home. With one week of solo training under my belt, I can report that I never realized how oppressed I was under the old system until now. It’s a challenge to train alone, but on the other hand I have freedom, space to learn, and flexibility for (some semblance of) a personal life. Third, we have an opportunity to create a new team dynamic that is more inclusive, positive and supportive. The retirement of two World Championship medalists certainly leaves a hole in our team’s depth chart, but that hole is also a space for new leaders.

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An omen for next winter? Susan finished on the podium in the final race of the 2018 season.

One deciding factor unrelated to team structure or my internal psyche is that I simply don’t have anything else lined up. Most people can probably relate to not wanting to quit one job until they find the next one. I am giving myself one more year to figure out what’s next, and to plan a great retirement party!

I am also giving myself one more year to really solidify the tradition we debuted this year in Pyeongchang of a Biathlon World Cup Valentine’s Day card exchange. And one more year of European hotel saunas; one more year of massage; one more year of ski-testing (or is it just socializing?) with my personal wax tech; one more year of being a fine-tuned athletic machine; one more year of racing for Team USA; one more year of agony; one more year of thrill; one more year because my brother says, “real life is the pits– you gotta keep the dream alive!”; one more year because I still have something to give; one more year because it’s fun and it’s cool and once it’s over there’s no going back.

The Bed Blog 2017-2018

This year’s travels took me to 11 US states, 2 Canadian Provinces, 12 countries and 3 continents. I was on the road for around 200 days. Here are some of the beds I slept in along the way:

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Park City, Utah
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Craftsbury, VT
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Oslo, Norway
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Joensuu, Finland
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Lahti, Finland
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Helsinki, Finland
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Seoul, South Korea
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Pyeongchang Olympic Village, South Korea
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Inchon, South Korea
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Ruhpolding, Germany (quarantine!)
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Ruhpolding, Germany
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Ruhpolding, Germany
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Ridnaun, Italy
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Trento, Italy
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Trento, Italy
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Vipiteno, Italy
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Antholz, Italy
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Ruhpolding, Germany
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Oberhof, Germany
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Lake Placid, NY
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Geneva, Switzerland
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La Clusaz, France
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Le Grand Bornand, France
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Hochfilzen, Austria
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Ostersund, Sweden
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Ostersund, Sweden
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Montreal, Canada
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Burlington, VT
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Vail, Colorado
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Frisco, Colorado
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Burlington, VT
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Cape May, NJ
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Egg Harbor, WI
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Bend, OR
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At least 4 nights

Other beds not shown:

Craftsbury, VT
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Rochester, NY
Lazy River Camping Area, Epsom, NH
Underhill Campground, Underhill, VT
Burlington, VT
Saratoga Springs, NY
Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Canmore, Alberta, CA
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Cancun, Mexico
New York City, NY
Stuart, Florida
Wellesley, MA
Washington, DC (hotel)
Washington, DC (home)
Graz, Austria
Ried, Austria
Saalfelden, Austria

Olympics Photo Journal

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My trip to the Olympics began in quarantine due to illness! Not the best physical or mental preparation.
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“Team Processing,” where I first got to try out my new Olympics gear!
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I dove right into the cultural activities. This is me wearing traditional Hanbok clothing.
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Inside the Olympic Village: welcoming ceremonies in the Village Square.
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Inside the Olympic Rings… who would have thought!?
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Marching in the Opening Ceremonies… a dream come true.
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Opening Ceremonies at the Olympic Stadium.
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My bedroom for almost 3 weeks in Pyeongchang, complete with an Olympics quilt.
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Out on course for my first Olympic race! It was very disappointing as I crashed an also missed 3 on the range, finishing 61st, just 1 spot out of qualification for the Pursuit race.
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I got to use my Korean skills with Mr. Ban-Ki Moon, the former Secretary General of the United Nations.
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Posing (behind a cut-out) along with a K-Pop super star in Hanbok
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Erik and I modeling our Hanbok! (Can you tell I love Hanbok!?)
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Here I am in the Village Square in the Olympic Village.
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Waving to the crowd after my 15k Individual race. I skied slowly and had okay shooting– three good stages and one bad, 0301– good enough for 62nd.
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Five other women from the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (four shown here), plus coach Pepa, joined me at the 2018 Games!
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I did an interview with NBC… what an experience!
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Following my lackluster 7.5k sprint and 15k Individual performances, I was not selected to compete in our team’s mixed relay. This was the low point of my Olympic experience.
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Behind the scenes: US Biathlon changing cabin.
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On my day off I visited a nearby Buddhist Temple. (The Olympic mascots on my right and left are just temporary adornments!)
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The woodwork and paint was extraordinarily ornate.
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Inside Woljeongsa Temple.
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All the traditional buildings I saw shared a similar style and color scheme. 
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My brothers Guy (left) and Graham (right) with me in Hanbok!
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10-for-10 shooting in the women’s relay!!! Finally an Olympic race I am really proud of. Our team was in medal contention through 3/4 of the race.
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Celebrating in the stands with my family! What a joyful moment!
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After my races were over I visited Seoul for a day. This is the view from the big mountain/park in the city center.
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Ancient meets modern in Seoul.
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KOREAN FOOD!!!
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The beautiful Korean coast on the East Sea in the town of Gangneug.
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Closing Ceremonies. The Olympics were not all smiles but the smiles I did have were really big.

The three weeks I spent in Korea were like a microcosm of my whole biathlon career: exhausting both physically and psychologically, with emotions alternating between extreme disappointment and overwhelming reward.

Pre-Olympic Ups and Downs

After a disappointing start to my second trimester of World Cup racing (there are few biathlon scenarios more painful than shooting 0,4), it was time once again, for me to do the ol’ biathlon rebound! You would think this would get easier, but so far in my experience it does not. I think nowadays it takes more to knock me down, but once I’m down, it’s still just as hard to get back up. In these moments, I usually reach out to my shooting coaches for a suggestion of something to actively work on. Having an explicit mission on the range helps me focus on the shooting process rather than the outcome. It’s the difference between “follow through on the trigger squeeze” and “really try to hit.” The former is much more effective in producing good shots, but the latter is as pervasive as it is illusive!

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Meet Sepp, a self-declared “Bavarian Cowboy” who is our team driver every year at the World Cup in Ruhpolding, Germany.
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Behind the scenes in Ruhpolding: each World Cup venue provides cabins like these for teams to store equipment, prepare skis, etc. We usually rent two of these shipping-container-cabins.
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The stadium in Ruhpolding.

With renewed confidence in my race plan I set out on the women’s 15k Individual at World Cup 5 in Ruhpolding. In this race format, athletes shoot four times (prone, standing, prone, standing) and each miss results in a 1-minute time penalty. I shot 0,1,0,2 and was very happy with my performance. The result– 57th place– is definitely not what I’m looking for but I had zero complaints about putting together my best shooting and skiing of the season. A few days later in my team’s first women’s relay of the year, I cleaned standing! It was my first time so far this year, and coming on the heels of my 4-miss blunder in Oberhof, I was pretty happy with this edition of the biathlon rebound!

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As seen on Eurovision!
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Post-race in Ruhpolding! Finally a “normal” race in the 15k Individual with decent shooting and skiing!
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Finally we had four women on the World Cup and were able to participate in the 4x6k women’s relay! A good day for our team.

Next up we headed to World Cup 6 in Antholz, my favorite stop on the tour. And this time we arrived on scene with our newly-named 2018 Olympic Team. Susan and I were joined by Joanne Reid, Emily Dreissigacker, and Maddie Phaneuf. A precocious junior athlete, Chloe Levins, just missed this year’s Olympic team but I have no doubt you’ll see her in future editions, should she choose to continue on her star-studded path!

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New record for number of women in a World Cup wax cabin! L-R: Clare, Emily, Chloe, Maddie, Susan, Joanne.
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Sunny Antholz, with the TV camera filming from the top of the crane!
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Trailside sign with my favorite slogan from my favorite fan club!

In the sprint race in Antholz, I got kind of foiled by the wind (or maybe just shot badly?) in prone and missed 2. That’s a rough start in the sprint– a race format in which I know I can only afford a couple of misses if I want to finish in the top 60 and qualify for the pursuit. In standing, everything went great until I missed my last shot. With three misses, I wasn’t sure I had a chance but I really pushed on the last lap, and when all was said and done I was in 56th. I would live another day! My pursuit race started off great– I shot clean in prone (0,0) and moved into the top 40, then missed only 1 (my last shot again!!!) in the first standing stage, and then in the final stage, something crazy happened! My legs started shaking like I was standing on some kind of vibrating platform. I took forever and really fought for my shots but still ended up missing 2. I left the range behind a young French athlete, Justine Braisaz, who is one of the fastest skiers on the biathlon World Cup. I have never been able to stay with her before, but on that day, I could and I did, all the way to the finish!

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I moved up almost 30 places in the Antholz pursuit race. Photo: Kenny Whitebloom

My friends Maura and Kenny flew all the way from the US to watch the races in Antholz, which was AWESOME!!! My boyfriend was also in town, coaching our IBU Cup team, so the four of us were able to spend some time together.

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Behind the scenes Antholz: Who wore it best? My teammate Sean Doherty and I are really twinning this year, especially with our matching haircuts.

After the races in Antholz, I took the train to the Italian city of Trento where I spent a few days off touring the city by myself. I really needed the break after three straight weeks of on time.

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Trento, Italy.

I headed back to the mountains on Wednesday to meet up with our IBU Cup team for European Championships. Since my season hasn’t been going that well and I haven’t qualified for many races, I decided I wanted to get a few more competitions in before the Olympics.

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Ridnaun, Italy

Ridnaun is really beautiful, and the site of my first clean biathlon race back in 2015. I was really looking forward to another opportunity for a good race! But that all went down the drain when I came into shoot prone and the buckle on my sling broke! The sling (pictured below) is a vital piece of equipment for prone shooting. Biathletes wear a cuff around their upper arm, to which this sling hooks, in order to stabilize the rifle. It’s so taught that it effectively eliminates the need for you to use your bicep to hold up the rifle. So without the sling, it is extremely wobbly. When my sling fell apart, I didn’t think I had any chance to hit any of the targets but I actually hit 2! With 3 penalty loops right away in prone I wasn’t sure if I would make the pursuit but I just tried to have a good time and I even waved to my boyfriend from the penalty loop! I missed 1 more in standing and finished in the 70’s so not my best shooting or skiing either.

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One really fun part of the weekend was reconnecting with my friend Joris. He used to be responsible for all the biathlon Eurovision broadcasts so I would see him weekly all winter long, but since he got a promotion he now manages other sports as well and I hadn’t bumped into him at all this season. It was a pleasant surprise to see a familiar face on the trail! He showed me around the Eurovision broadcasting station live on-scene in Ridnaun!

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Joris at the helm of the Eurovision studio on site at European Championships in Ridnaun, Italy.
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Eurovision audio booth.

Here’s a sign that made me laugh:

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German phonetic spelling. Also seen: “Couch & Athlet”

And a photo of some of my favorite people whom I don’t get to see all that often because we are on different racing circuits:

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Eurovan front seat selfie! Don’t worry I put it in park before snapping. L-R: Jean, Erik, Clare, Chloe.

After the races in Ridnaun, I went back to Germany for our pre-Olympic training camp. Right away, I started to get sick and ended up spending the entire week quarantined in a little cabin with meals being delivered to me three times per day. I left only for an occasional 15-minute walk. It was awful and sad. So much for preparing for the Olympics. I still may do okay, but I don’t think there’s any chance I’ll be skiing my best. With the broken sling and illness behind me, I’m eager to focus on better things like:

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My idea for an A Capella group for Olympians. Graphic design by Hannah Dreissigacker.

I am in Korea now, still quarantined in a different hotel from my team. It’s been 10 days. I am feeling totally fine now, only in my voice you can hear some residual congestion. Tomorrow I have permission to finally rejoin my team and start training again. My first race is in 5 days.

My next blogpost will include pictures from the Olympics!

In the meantime, stay informed about what’s going on the anti-doping world. it’s been a tragic week for clean sport. This article sums up how I feel.