This weekend marks the start of World Cup racing. On Sunday, we will put on the red, white and blue and represent the USA in the season’s first mixed relay in Östersund, Sweden. Over the winter, we race in about 30 competitions around 10 different countries, but our race day routines always looks the same. Here’s how I approach a race:
The Evening Before
We have a short team meeting to go over race day logistics and discuss strategy. Afterwards I write myself out a detailed schedule for the next day. Among other things, it includes when I plan to wake up in the morning, when I will eat meals, what time I must leave for the venue and when I should start warming up. Having a plan to follow simplifies race day preparations for me. It takes away extra stress, allowing me to focus on only one task at a time. It gives me confidence that I will fit in everything I need to do for the race.
First thing in the morning, I go for short walk or jog outside to help the body wake up and to get a feel for the weather.
Sunrise over the biathlon range in Sjusjøen, Norway
I eat a hearty breakfast (and lunch if the race happens to be in the late afternoon or evening).
One of my staple breakfast combinations: Yogurt, museli, almonds, banana and blueberries.
An hour before I have to leave I pack a backpack with everything I’ll need, including some dry clothes and a snack for after the race. I warm up the nervous system for shooting by doing some dryfire drills (indoor shooting practice without any bullets).
You can often tell if a biathlete has been living somewhere if there are rows of little black dots (targets) taped to the wall.
Upon arrival at our team wax cabins I put on my ski boots and race bib and head to the course. I may need to meet up with one of our wax technicians to do a final test of my skis and choose the fastest pair for the given conditions.
Christian, our newest wax technician comes from Lillehammer.
Rifle zeroing opens an hour before race time. On my way I stop at equipment inspection to get my rifle’s trigger weight checked to make sure it is not too light. I then shoot some magazines on paper to check that my rifle’s sights are accurate. My coach looks at the bullets’ grouping through a scope and gives me corrections if needed.
Coach Jonne helps zero my teammate Annelies.
I finish with a “confirmation,” a hard loop skied around the stadium followed by shooting one more magazine to make sure my grouping stays centered with a higher heart rate. Then I load my magazines for the race and bring my rifle to the starting pen.
During the remainder of my time, I warm up skiing around the course. I use the opportunity to inspect the day’s snow conditions and I adapt my race plan and strategy if needed. 25 minutes or so before my start time, I do three minutes of race-pace effort and several short full speed pickups. 10 minutes before race time I report to the starting pen. I receive my race skis from our staff and bring them to equipment inspection to get marked. I pick up transponder timing chips that must be worn around my ankles.
With less than five minutes to go, after some last minute jogging to stay loose, I shed my warm-up clothes. I triple check that I loaded all my magazines. Then it is time to line up at the start gate. The race is on! As soon as I am on course, the pre-race nerves go away.
Lining up for the start during a small race last weekend with the German team in Sjusjøen, Norway.
Our World Cup race season begins this Sunday with a mixed relay in Östersund, Sweden (9:30 am EST in the US). Like all our World Cup races, you can stream it live.