On Tour in 2020-21

The US Biathlon Team in Vuokatti, Finland wearing our new Maloja uniforms for 2020-2021

My teammates and I traveled to Finland in early November. We trained for two weeks in Vuokatti on a man-made snow loop of about 4km, with a 15-point shooting range. It was really busy with biathletes and cross-country skiers from Finland and abroad who came there in search of early season snow.

This was our first time traveling as a group and establishing our team “bubble.” We are tested about every four days for COVID. Even though we are traveling, our risk of exposure or transmission is very low because we have no close contacts except in some cases a roommate. We all wear masks at all times except while in our rooms or training outdoors. We eat dinner in a private room, alone at our own tables. And we don’t get out much…

When we are at World Cups, the IBU requires all event participants (teams, officials, volunteers, media, etc.) to follow the same testing and masking regimen. So we only interact with other people who are also following these same guidelines. Of course when we have breaks such as at Christmas, people scatter and there’s increased risk, but we all have to test negative before re-entering the IBU zone. Our system is working well, which allows me to focus on racing!

Birthday party was a real rager this year!

I celebrated my 33rd birthday in Vuokatti, with party hats of course!

Approaching the shooting range in Kontiolahti, wearing number 2 in the first race of the 2020-21 season.

After two weeks in Vuokatti we drove to Kontiolahti for the first World Cup races of the season. This year, to reduce travel, the IBU scheduled our World Cups in two-week blocks in one location. In the first two weeks of racing, I had great shooting but I skied way more slowly than I expected, so I was disappointed with my results. I’m still not sure why I was so slow.

Late afternoon before the first races in Hochfilzen, Austria. First time seeing sun after 4 dark weeks in Finland!

And then voilà, when we moved to Hochfilzen, Austria for the next two weeks of racing, I skied really fast! I don’t know what happened. The improvement was really drastic– I had the 57th-ranked ski time in the sprint in Finland and the 10th in Hochfilzen. I scored a personal-best sprint result of 10th place, and then followed that up the next week with a 9th! It was the best I have felt skiing in two years! I ended the first trimester on a really high note.

Graham and me in Aubonne, Switzerland on Christmas morning.

For Christmas, I drove to Switzerland to visit my brother, Graham, who lives in Zurich. I was really happy to escape from the team bubble!!! We spent Christmas in Aubonne (near Lausanne) with his girlfriend, Maulde, and her family. I’m lucky could spend Christmas with them instead of alone in a hotel.

Christmas in Aubonne
Skiing in Im Fang, Switzerland with Anne, Sophie, and Jeanne.

While I was in Switzerland I also got together with my friend Anne and her family, who I met in 2009 when I was an exchange student in Switzerland. We went skiing together on some trails which I vaguely remembered from 12 years ago, in a town called Im Fang.

Skiing in Seefeld, Austria with Caitlin Patterson.

After Christmas in Switzerland I drove to Antholz, Italy to train until the next World Cups. The drive took about 5 hours and I stopped on the way in Seefeld, Austria, where some members of the US cross-country ski team were training. I know a lot of the skiers on the team and was happy to meet up with my friend and Green Racing Project teammate, Caitlin Patterson, for a quick afternoon ski!

Quiet day on the shooting range in in Antholz

Training in Antholz for the next ten days was sunny and beautiful as usual! I did a lot of good work getting back to basics and focussing on shooting. In Hochfilzen my skiing was finally up to speed but I had lost some of my sharp focus on the range. It was good to be able to do some easy, no-pressure shooting.

My Ford Puma from Auto Eder!

I am so grateful that our team’s vehicle sponsor, Auto Eder, has continued to sponsor me personally this year by providing a car for me during breaks. Without the car I could not have visited my brother, skied with my Swiss friends or Caitlin, or stayed on my own in an apartment in Antholz. Having a car gives me some personal freedom which I really value when I’m on the road with my team for 5 months.

Lisa, Armin and me on New Year’s eve

My coach Armin and his wife Lisa had me over for dinner on New Year’s eve! They have hosted me many times and it’s always great to get out of the “hotel life” and be in a real home with friends!

View from the Staller Sattel/Passo Stalle

On New Year’s day I skied up (and down) the Staller Pass, which is a road in summer. The top of the pass is the border between Italy and Austria. This is the view from the top of the pass down into Italy to the Antholzersee (Lake Anterselva). My boyfriend Erik and I did this ski a few years ago on New Year’s day so I really missed him this year! I won’t see him for five months this winter.

Relay day in Oberhof

In early January we headed to Oberhof, Germany for the second trimester of World Cups. Once again, I started out with slow skiing but perfect shooting, but it was good enough for another great result of 13th in the sprint. In my third race, which was a relay, I suddenly felt great and skied fast again!

And then for the next couple weeks I just got increasingly tired and slow. By the end of the trimester when we raced in Antholz, I was suffering through my races in survival mode. After all the good training I did in Antholz this year, it was really sad not to be able to race to my potential there! It has been hard to understand the extreme ups and downs in my ski speed this winter. But thankfully, in the last race, I felt a little better and even managed to catch five or six teams in our women’s relay during my anchor leg! It was good to go into our break before World Championships with a more optimistic feel.

Verona Arena

Now I am spending a few days in Verona, Italy, where I am resting and recovering! Tomorrow I will head back to Antholz to train for World Championships. But “the hay is in the barn” so this is really a time to focus on recovery and “tune-up,” and not to worry about long hours of heavy training.

It has been a season of ups and downs, but if I look at the big picture it’s been my best one yet, or close to it. I have qualified for every race, have scored two top-10’s, two additional top-15’s, and have not finished outside the top 50. I have been ranked inside the top 25 of the overall World Cup standings for most of the season and right now I’m in 26th. I have had great skiing and great shooting, and at World’s I hope to put them together on the same day!

Training Season 2020

At the end of winter 2019-2020, I took a long break from biathlon, and an even longer break from this blog! If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook then you probably have a sense of what I’ve been up to, but here’s a more in-depth look at my last 8 months.

Jet lag sunrise, March 12, from my balcony in Lake Placid

After arriving back in Lake Placid in March, I came down with a mild case of what turned out to be Influenza B, not COVID! But since I had been tested for COVID, I was quarantined for 14 days and my boyfriend was evicted from our apartment by the New York State Department of Health and quarantined separately in a motel. It was not the homecoming we were looking forward to!

By the time we got out of the quarantine, things in New York had pretty much shut down anyway, so like everybody else, we got into a new routine of sitting around at home. April in Lake Placid is a most dreadful time, but we got outdoors any time it wasn’t 35 degrees and raining.

Big Slide Mountain in late April

On May 1, as soon as it was legally possible, I flew to San Antonio, Texas, where my brother, Guy, lives. After a sunny and funny visit with him, I drove back to Lake Placid in a car which I have inherited from him. On my way out of San Antonio I bought my first mountain bike, and proceeded to ride it around Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. I wasn’t sure how I would like doing a solo road trip, but it was great and I highly recommend.

San Antonio River Walk totally empty except for my brother

Once I got back to Lake Placid, I gradually started working out in a more biathlon-oriented way. But I didn’t start following a training plan until the second week of June, when we were first allowed to use the shooting range. I think having most of March, April and May off was really good for my body and definitely my mind.

An early success on the range in June: 5x 10!

Training this summer was really weird. Usually our National Team convenes for several weeks each month, but this year we didn’t have any training camps! I was lucky to have a couple of local training partners: my teammates Maddie and Chloe, my friend and former UNH Ski Team teammate Elizabeth, and my boyfriend Erik. I communicated with my coach, Armin, who lives in Italy, almost every day either by phone or text. I had to be more self-motivated and self-disciplined than ever before.

Big Slide mountain in mid June
Lake Placid training partners: L-R: Maddie, Chloe, me, program director Danika, and coaching intern Annika

There were many days this summer when I was extremely jealous of my competitors. To my knowledge, our national team was the only biathlon team in the world which was not able to hold regular training camps with athletes and coaches for the majority of the training season. I wanted so badly to see my coach, to get help with shooting and ski technique, and to push myself against skiers who are faster than me.

Sometimes I felt disadvantaged and sorry for myself, but in those moments I tried to remind myself that I could still do all my training. It often looked different– for example I lifted weights outside until October– but I knew that if I was motivated and disciplined enough, I could do every single thing on my plan, with or without my coach and teammates. I also know they were there for me, even if not physically present.

Not every day is perfect; some hikes end in the clouds.

In July, I was able to get away for one long weekend with my boyfriend. We went to visit his family in Rochester, New York, where we celebrated his niece’s first birthday. Then we explored another in-state treasure: the finger lakes. My favorite place was Watkin’s Glen.

Watkin’s Glen, New York
Seneca Lake with Erik

Summer is always a heavy training phase for me, and this year it seemed especially so. Without the possibility to do many of our normal “time off” activities such as visiting friends, going to concerts, and eating at restaurants, it was hard to keep a good balance. But Erik got into making specialty cocktails at home, and sometimes we rotated our dining room table and called it “The Restaurant” and then put on cute outfits and went to it.

Many hours on the trails
Keeping a balance between work and play

On August 19th my team reached a big milestone when some of us were finally able to get together for a time trial! The Craftsbury Outdoor Center (my former home!) made their state-of-the-art new roller-ski loop, shooting range, and overnight lodging available to us as long as we could comply with state and Outdoor Center quarantine and safety rules. I was very happy to finally see my other teammates, if only for one day!

Deedra’s smile saying it all when we finally were able to get together for the first time since Winter.

In August I started to scheme about making a solo trip to to Europe to train with my coach. I serve on the Executive Board of the International Biathlon Union as the athlete representative, and as we were scheduled to meet in-person in September, I thought I could use the paperwork for that meeting to gain entry to the European Union. After doing a very deep dive in the customs and border control websites for Germany, Austria, and Italy, I bought a plan ticket and set off into the unknown– masked, of course.

Not in the Adirondack’s anymore! Hiking near Antholz, Italy.

It worked! I spent three weeks in September in Antholz, Italy, where Armin lives. Within the first few days, I felt my trip was already worth it. Armin helped me fix several technical shooting issues that I’d been struggling to figure out on my own all summer. I was so happy to train at a world class venue, work out in a gym, and most importantly be coached again! I had fast training partners the whole time including Mari Eder of Finland, some members of the Italian development team, and the Estonian women’s National Team. The jet lag/altitude combo really killed me the first few days, but week by week I felt physically stronger, technically sharper, and mentally more confident. I did some test races that were really promising.

Hiking in the Dolomites with Mari, Armin, and some locals
I drove to Lago di Garda/Lake Garda on my day off and it was a paradise

Having my own apartment and car during this camp made a big difference for my wellbeing. Often at raining camps I lose energy because I feel cloistered in a hotel, but with independence and autonomy I never got tired at this camp, even though it lasted a full month and I trained a ton.

For the fourth week of the camp, Armin and I drove to Ramsau, Austria, where our men’s National Team coach, Vegard, lives. Each morning we took a cable car up almost 3,000 meters to the Dachstein Glacier to ski on natural snow! It was my first time skiing outside in the summer time.

Dachstein Glacier, 2,700 meters, Styria, Austria

While I was in Ramsau, the event organizer from the Wiesbaden City Biathlon competition contacted me to offer me a last-minute spot in the elite, 9-woman race that coming Sunday. I was tired from four weeks of hard training and was facing an already-complicated weekend of logistics for my IBU board meeting, but I decided to jump on the opportunity to do a race with some top-level competitors. On Thursday during the last workout of the camp, I almost cried because I was so exhausted, and then once I finished the workout I did cry (tears of joy) because I was so relieved to be done. The next morning I hit the road to Munich for my meeting!

Traveling light from training camp to board meeting to biathlon race

As you’ll see from the photos below, I made a great decision to race in Wiesbaden. It was a wild and fun event, with great athletes and spectators. Coming from an exhausting camp, a full day of meetings on Saturday and a four-hour drive on Saturday night, I wasn’t sure what to expect from my body on Sunday morning for the race, but I went for the podium and came away with the bronze! I was especially pleased with my shooting (0,1,1,0,0– an unusual 5-stage race–prone, prone, standing standing, standing).

In Ramsau, Vegard had been impressed by improvements I’ve made since last in my shooting, and he told me, “you don’t need to do any better, you just need to do this.” It was a great reminder that for my races I don’t need to do anything special, just repeat the work I’ve done in training. And it worked in Wiesbaden!

Back with my friend Mari again at the Wiesbaden City Biathlon competition.
I thought was about to slip and crash the whole time, which is why I was laughing.
First time winning a giant bottle of Champagne. Hope the hotel housekeeping staff enjoyed it.

After the race I drove to a law office in Frankfurt, from which I called into an important afternoon session of the still-ongoing IBU meeting. My Board colleagues told me they had paused the meeting to watch my race and were glad I had added some excitement to the meeting! I’m glad they support me being an athlete first.

The next morning I flew home to Maine, where I rested, ate, and quarantined in the cottage next to my parents’ house for several days before getting a negative COVID test and heading back to Lake Placid. This trip home wasn’t originally planned, but it made the most sense in terms of trying to be COVID-safe. (Silver linings of COVID!) I was able to visit with my parents and even see my 92-year-old grandmother, if only through her window.

Atlantic coast, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

And then suddenly it was fall! When I got back to my apartment in Lake Placid, I only had 5 weeks until my flight back to Europe for the winter competition season. Those last weeks at home always pass quickly, and this year was no different.

Fall foliage past peak on October 3rd in Lake Placid

In mid-October we had our first and only training camp of the year (without Vegard and Armin who were stuck in Europe). Once again, Craftsbury hosted. I only stayed for four days, long enough to do two races. In the first race I did mediocre shooting but exceptional skiing. In the second race I did the opposite; I shot 0000– only the second time in my career! It was another great confirmation that the work I did this summer was good in spite of the challenges. Crazy fact: in the end, I did exactly one training session with my teammate Susan this year!

First and only training session of the year with Susan: October 13.

I returned to Lake Placid with about two weeks to go before “take-off.” If this season goes as planned, I will be gone from November 8 until end of March. I’m simultaneously trying to plan for that, and trying to not plan for anything because there is so much uncertainty. All I know right now is that I am doing my best to enjoy my remaining time with Erik in Lake Placid.

Big Slide Mountain in late October with Erik

In the last few days it has snowed almost a foot in Lake Placid. As predicted, we have reached the point where there is too much snow for roller-skiing, not enough snow for skiing, and it’s also kind of dangerous to run. Time for the training season to end!!!

Ready for ski season!!!

And with that I am counting down the last few workouts before travel. I am hoping for a healthy race season. I predict mental health will be as big a challenge for me this year as physical health, with the safety bubble in place for IBU events limiting that personal freedom I so value for balancing out the biathlon. But if I can stay healthy, I know I will have fun and do great this winter. Even though my preparation was weird, I think it was better than ever. So keep wearing that a mask and get ready to watch biathlon!

Behind the Scenes 2019-2020

I like to share some of my favorite moments and candid captures from the season. Unfortunately last year I ended on a rough note, getting sick and flying home early (oh yeah, and there was this pandemic??) and I wasn’t in the mood to re-hash what had been a tough season. But now that I have some perspective I picked out some highlights. Enjoy!

The Bed Blog 2019-2020

As I prepare to embark on a competition season unlike any other, here’s a look back at my May 2019-May 2020 travels, bed by bed.

My bedroom, Lake Placid, New York
Hanover, New Hampshire
Montreal-Munich
Auchentaller family home, Antholz, Italy
Munich, Germany
Los Angeles, California
Palm Springs, California
Joshua Tree National Park, California
San Diego, California
Bend, Oregon
My childhood bedroom, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Montreal-Lyon
Lyon, France
Corrençon-en-vercors, France
Antholz, Italy
Bologna, Italy
Forte dei Marmi, Italy, with my friend Mike!
Crafford family home, Washington, D.C.
Lewish family home, Rochester, N.Y.
Burlington, Vermont
Craftsbury, Vermont
Montreal-Munich
Munich, Germany
Montreal, Canada
Catskills, New York
Heber, Utah
Lake Placid, New York
Montreal-Munich (2019, before masks were cool)
Obertilliach, Austria
Obertilliach, Austria
Ostersund, Sweden
Leogang, Austria
Le Grand Bornand, France
Lausanne, Switzerland
Antholz, Italy
Oberhof, Germany
Ruhpolding, Germany
Bled, Slovenia
Trieste, Italy
Braies, Italy
Martell, Italy
Antholz, Italy
Annelies and Robert’s apartment, Bad Tölz, Germany
Siegsdorf, Germany
Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic
Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic
Guy’s apartment, San Antonio, Texas
New Orleans, Louisiana
Alabama
Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee
Kentucky
West Virginia
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Not pictured:
Lucca, Italy
Port Arthur, Texas

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
North Wolcott, Vermont
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!