Expletive-free account of World Cups 1 and 2

My season got off to a %#$ brutal start! In the very first race, the Mixed Relay, I had two %$# penalty laps in standing despite using all three !@# extra rounds, and ruined the whole @#$ race for my team for the 2nd consecutive year. Lovely! My next two races I placed in the 70’s. @#$%&&#$.

High noon as seen from my hotel room in Östersund, Sweden.

I felt unprepared, jet-lagged, sluggish, and consequently stressed. For better or for worse, our team always starts off slow and excels in February at the championship races. I’m confident that I’ll be in peak shape when it counts the most, but it’s still hard to overcome the early-season blow to my confidence. On the bright side, my shooting in training was excellent, and I felt better and better each race.

Not all bad: reunited with my wax tech, Gara!

After almost two weeks in Sweden, we traveled to Hochfilzen, Austria. I was happy to return to one of my favorite hotels and the site of the magical 2017 World Championships. We traveled on a charter flight, which I always enjoy because it is one of the rare times when all the athletes come together in a non-competition atmosphere. I sat with Quentin Fillon-Maillet (FRA) on the plane and he was even chattier than me.

We love our new beautiful, bold, blue uniforms! Thats Emily on my left and Susan on my right.

During the first few days in Hochfilzen we enjoyed a much-needed dose of sunshine. We also got out new uniforms!!! And I spent several hours rotating between the sauna, cold pond, steam room, and relaxing bed. I felt enormous gratitude for my lifestyle. My training continued to go really well, and with the help of our sports psychologist I worked hard to rebuild my confidence. Just in time for the Sprint race, it started dumping snow.

Sports psychologist Sean (left) and Shooting consultant Matt on the range in a blizzard in Hochfilzen.
Crazy weather means it’s anyone’s game!

It was the crazy kind of weather that made me laugh during my warm-up, as I wondered, “how am I gonna see the #$% targets?!” The wind was gusting and I couldn’t see anything though my snow-caked glasses. But I’ve always done well in inclement weather and this was no exception. I shot 8/10 (missed 1 prone and 1 standing) and finished 35th, less than 10 seconds outside of my team’s top-30 automatic qualification standard for the Olympic Team. I had missed my last #$@ shot. Still, I was thrilled to have a good race under my belt, to have scored some World Cup points (top 40), and to have qualified for the pursuit race (top 60). Starting in 35th position in the next day’s pursuit would also put that top-30 standard well within my reach. To celebrate, I went to the main square to celebrate St. Nicholas Day with the locals.

This horrific monster, called the Krampus, beats children (and unsuspecting adults, it turns out!) with his goat tail on Saint Nicholas Day (December 6th). Not really sure I understand the tradition but I think it’s sort of like getting coal in your stocking.

The first lap of the pursuit I was right where I want to be. I felt relaxed skiing in a pack of super strong women. Then I didn’t adjust my sights correctly for the wind when I came into the first shooting and missed two. I didn’t lose hope. Then I missed two again on my second shooting. Still didn’t lose hope. Then I missed two more on my third shooting and lost hope. On my last shooting, I hit the first four and then missed my last #$% shot again. I did pass one person in a glorious charge up the final hill.

In hot pursuit of France’s Marie Dorin-Habert during the first lap of the pursuit in Hochfilzen.
Making a move on my last lap.
Peace signs, or the number of penalty loops I did on each of my first three laps in this pursuit.

I slid back from 35th to 53rd place in the pursuit. But I left Austria relieved and satisfied, knowing 35th would likely be enough to earn me a spot on the Olympic Team. We were also given a case of mini-champagnes by a devoted fan, which didn’t hurt.

Some biathlon fans are better than others.



The race season is upon us! My favorite time of year!

Coming back to Östersund, Sweden for World Cup 1 each November has this “back-to-school” feel. You get to see all your friends you haven’t seen since last year. You return to the same old place and familiar routine. You have new clothes, fresh supplies, and a blank slate. It’s my third year now. I can only imagine how Ole Einar Bjørndalen feels as he begins his 25th.

Our first race is on Sunday. I will do the mixed relay with Susan Dunklee and two of our men, to be determined. During training this week, a lot of people will ask, “How is your shape”? This must translate well from some language, but I haven’t yet figured out which one. Maybe everyone thinks it comes from English so we continue to repeat it to each other, each assuming it sounds legit in the other’s language. But really, does anyone know the answer? I won’t be able to say for sure “how my shape is” until I test it out on Sunday. I think I’m in good shape. I mean, nothing crazy happened this summer. I was healthy; my training seemed fine. But our sport is all about ranking ourselves relative to everyone else. Unlike a runner, I don’t know any of my race times. All I know is that I got 1st or 15th or 80th or whatever. So Sunday is when I’ll find out how the last seven months of hard work have affected “my shape.” I can say for sure that I’m well-prepared and ready to race!

We spent last month training on snow in Canmore, Alberta. Sunrise in the Canadian Rockies is not to be missed.
Another year, another successful hotel-made Halloween costume in which I can ski, shoot, and represent one of the finer cultural institutions of my country!
Snow-making on a sunny morning in Canmore.
The Canmore Biathlon Stadium in all it’s glory.
Put the 2019 Canmore World Cup on your calendar! February 4-10, 2019.
We did two races with the Canadians. I had 1 bad and 1 better! Photo: Lew at Mountain West Dermatology.
Susan, Emily and I skyped-in our former teammate Hannah from her home in New Zealand for a painting lesson. Can you match the artist to the painting?
It was good for the soul to get off the 2k man-made snow loop and hit the trails for real cross-country skiing!
Out on a 3-hour “tour” with Paul!
Beautiful new USA gear. No longer purple and orange, we are returning to the red, white and blue!!!
Still the “official” athlete entrance to the Östersund Biathlon Stadium.
2017-2018 athlete training bibs. Better not lose it! It’s required every day for skiing on course. Susan Dunklee gets her name on hers for being in the top-30 overall from last year. Emily and I have a new goal!

Be sure to tune in on Sunday to watch us live, here. The full race schedule, with times automatically listed in your local timezone, is here.

Thanks for cheering, wherever you are!!!

Korean Lessons! 한국어 수업

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

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

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

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

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


First snow of the year!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Hot off the Press

I was home over the weekend and met with Portland Press Herald reporter Glenn Jordan. He’s been covering my athletic pursuits since I was competing for Cape Elizabeth High School. Sometimes talking to reporters is scary, because you never know how they might portray you in the article. But Glenn always seems to parse apart my many words to reveal the essence of a portrait in time. This article is no exception! Click the title in the post below to link to the full article.

One year done, another begun

New Year’s Day for biathletes is May 1st. It’s when the winter season and subsequent vacation are officially over and training for the next year begins anew. In my case, it’s when I face the athletic consequences of not working out for 4 weeks. I’m very active during our month off, but my April activities of choice are walking (read: shopping), tennis, snorkeling, dancing, and wind-surfing. (You’ll notice roller-skiing, running, weightlifting, and strenuous uphill mountain bounding with ski poles are absent from that list.) I am serious about my devotion to rest and relaxation. Most of my readers probably laugh at the idea of me being “out of shape”, and in the conventional sense of the phrase, they’re justified. The fitness base I’ve established over the past six years certainly doesn’t disappear over the course of one month. But May first does not bring conventional workouts and the goal is not conventional fitness! Everything is to the extreme! And for that, yes, even I am out of shape.

Parque Nacional Tayrona, Colombia
Cartagena, Colombia

I spent my April break traveling with my boyfriend to Colombia and then visiting family and friends in Florida, Rochester, NY, New York City and Philadelphia. (No strenuous uphill running). Even after all that time off from biathlon, I was anxious about starting to train again. The first few weeks are indeed physically arduous, but the bigger challenge for me is the psychological stress that comes with renouncing a balanced life. During the coming 11 months, I will spend about 230 days on the road, train 6 days/week, and commit 24 hours/day to optimal health and recovery.

We are already at our first training camp, in Bend, Oregon. On a typical day here, we ski (on snow) in the morning for about 3 hours, then eat and rest, then run or bike for about two more hours in the afternoon, then eat and sleep. Some athletes thrive on the literal train-eat-sleep rotation, but I resent the zombie-robot I become. There are days when this lifestyle feels freeing, like when I can sit on my porch in the afternoon sun and work on some hobby project, knowing most people are stuck indoors behind a desk. But when I don’t even have the energy to stay awake for the hobby project, it feels like a prison.

Yesterday was delightful. Today we skied for 3 hours in freezing rain so guess what, no smiling picture.

I’m working on reclaiming some semblance of balance in my life this year, and I’ll keep you informed as to ways you might be part of that. But for now I have to rest because soon I have to go running for two hours.

My next blogpost will focus on the excitement of the Olympic Year, and I will try to find a time to write it when I am not exhausted.

The bed blog 2016-2017

I regret my lack of diligence with regards to keeping this year’s photographic journal of hotel beds. You can still get a taste for my life on the road, and I’ve included a thorough list of all those beds left unseen.

Siegsdorf, Germany
Literally don’t even know
Jericho, VT- Ethan Allen Training Site barracks
Burlington, VT
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Ostersund, Sweden
Bled, Slovenia
Ruhpolding, Germany
Antholz, Italy
Antholz, Italy
Hochfilzen, Austria
Siegsdorf, Germany
Munich, Germany
IMG_0846 2
PyeongChang, Korea
Joensuu, Finland
Oslo, Norway
Burlington, VT

Other beds, not photographed, in chronological order 5/1/2016-5/1/2017:
(same location listed twice only if I stayed in a different bed)

Olympic Training Center, Lake Placid, NY
My apartment in Lake Placid, NY
Bend, OR
Woodstock, VT
Colorado Springs, CO
Park City, UT
Rochester, NY
Buffalo, NY
Cape Elizabeth, ME
Hosmer Point Camp, Craftsbury, VT
Underhill, VT (camping)
Burlington, VT (hotel)
Burlington, VT (camping)
Oberhof, Germany
Burlington, VT
Canmore, Alberta, Canada
Zdar nad Sazavou, Czech Republic
Hallbergmoos, Germany
Oberhof, Germany
Valdaora, Italy
Munich, Germany
Inzell, Germany
Burlington, VT
Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Craftsbury, VT
Cartagena, Colombia (hostel)
Parque Nacional Tayrona, Colombia (hammock)
Cartagena, Colombia (hotel)
Stuart, FL
New York City, NY
Philadelphia, PA

…and now I’m back in Bend, OR, and the cycle begins again!

Behind the Scenes 2016-2017

Here are some of my favorite photo highlights from behind the scenes on the 2016-2017 World Cup circuit.

Our Finnish massage therapist, Jani “the hairless Finn” never misses a moment to make me laugh. That “bazooka” is actually tubes for traveling with ski poles.
Our head wax tech, Petr “Gara” Garabik (CZE), is neurotic about how he packs our van…and makes sure to stock it with cheap beer from his home country whenever we travel to Scandinavia.
Wax tech Federico after he got kicked out of the bar on St. Patrick’s Day (*I left voluntarily).
Gara and me after our first ski-test of the year in Sweden.
Susan and Lowell captured silver in the single-mixed relay at World Cup 8 in Finland, ending a 23-year relay medal drought and crushing the poor Germans’ souls.
Our hyper-organized team leader, Bernd, was absent for just a few days and this is what happened to our packing discipline.
In honor of international Women’s Day, we took over the workspace usually occupied by our all-male wax team. Note the wall “art.”
Pinkies up! My buddy Paul and I enjoyed this rare upgrade to first class!
Me with massage therapist Jeurgen. Yes I’m wearing a dirndl. This is Bavaria!
Coach Jonas modeling the hat worn by Bernd’s infant son who bears the same name.
Women on our way to work!
Celebrating at one of Susan’s many podium ceremonies this winter.
Paul and I were featured on the IBU’s official Instagram after he placed 30th in his World Cup debut!
My favorite venue: Antholz, Italy
Job perk.
I love this picture of Franziska Hildebrand (GER) struggling through her pre-race meal. Even biathlon superstars have to force-feed themselves plain pasta pre-race! We may be from different countries but we’re all in this together.
Tim Burke’s pre-race nutrition strategy: dry bread in the changing cabin.
When our changing cabin became a literal changing cabin. Welcome to the team baby Ophelia!
Sometimes you just need to have some wine and a laugh with your wax tech.
My best racing moment of the year, when I hit 10 for 10 at World Champs!
My favorite racing moment of the year: qualifying with bib 30 for the mass start at World Championships.
Funniest official picture of the year: when the media thought I was Susan after she took silver in the mass start.
Best team of the year!

The Turning Point

The turning point of my 2017 season happened in February at World Championships when, after blowing my team’s chances in the Mixed Relay, I hit all my targets in the sprint to finish 20th. Building on that momentum, I had two more top-25 finishes during the championships: 22nd in the 15k Individual and 24th in my first 12.5K mass start! There I was, competing with the top-30 women in the world, wearing bib 30. I was actually ranked 31st going into the final race, but one woman pulled out, so I got to start. It was one of my greatest career goals to race in a mass start, and to do so at World Championships was especially meaningful. I finished 24th and felt totally comfortable and competitive so I know I can be back in the future.

Lots of fans and sunshine in Austria
About to hit my last target in the sprint at World Championships, as seen on TV.

After World Championships, I took a well-deserved break from biathlon by renting a nice hotel for myself in Munich, Germany for a few days. It was a luxury to have my own room, visit museums, go shopping, and relax at local restaurants and coffee shops.

Marienplatz in Munich with the City Hall in the background

But before long it was back to the grind. We still had three more World Cups to go, and a tough travel schedule– World Cups 7, 8 and 9 took us to Korea, Finland and Norway.

My teammate Paul and I posing on an Olympics-themed display in the Seoul, South Korea airport.

This season seemed especially long, because of the timing of World Championships so early in the season. It is easy to build momentum and motivation up until World Championships, but I found the later races exhausting both mentally and physically. I had some great results during that last trimester though, as my skiing continued to get faster and faster, and I felt more relaxed in my shooting.

Racing in Finland under the lights

One of my favorite moments was the mixed relay in Finland at World Cup 8. That day, our team prioritized the single-mixed relay, with Lowell and Susan pairing up to win the U.S.’s first relay medal in 23 years. That left me and some of our other newer biathletes to race the mixed relay: we called ourselves the B+ Team. I led off, and combined my fastest skiing of the season with decent and fast shooting to tag off in 6th place, a mere :30 seconds behind 1st place. My teammates Joanne, Paul and Sean all did a great job and we finished 8th, which tied the best finish for Team USA all winter, including when we entered our top athletes in the event.

Now I’m at the next turning point: where the 2017 season ends and the 2018 season begins. The Olympic year is almost here! It is crazy to think about next year already, and to be honest I’m not ready for it.