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Archive for the ‘Race Reports’ Category

2013-14 GRP Skiing Results Record

26.Mar.2014 by Gordon Vermeer

Want to keep track of how the GRP Ski Team is doing this season? Check back on this blog! I’ll be updating this same post frequently throughout the season, and re-posting it to the top of the blog roll every once in a while. With comments or questions or complaints, shoot me an email at Most recent week on top. –Gordo





Anchorage, Alaska (SuperTour Finals/Distance Nationals)

Tuesday 4x5K Mixed-Gender Mixed-Technique Relay: Team 1 (Patrick, Ida, Gordon, Caitlin) 7th, Team 2 (Alex, Liz, Andrew, Clare) 11th

Friday CL Ladies’ 30K, Men’s 50K: Ida 5th, Caitlin 10th, Liz 15th, Clare 26th; Gordon 21st, Andrew 37th, Alex 38th, Pat 44th





Oslo, Norway (IBU World Cup 9)

Thursday 7.5K Sprint: Susan 3rd (0+0), Hannah 75th (2+3)

Saturday 10K Pursuit: Susan 6th (1+0+0+1)

Sunday 12.5K Mass Start: Susan 18th (2+1+3+0)


Anchorage, Alaska (SuperTour Finals/Distance Nationals)

Saturday FR Individual Start Ladies’ 10K, Men’s 15K: Caitlin 10th, Ida 14th, Clare 19th, Liz 25th; Andrew 15th, Gordon 30th, Pat 35th

Sunday CL Sprint: Ida 3rd, Liz 11th, Caitlin 12th, Clare 20th; Patrick 4th, Gordon 18th, Alex 26th, Andrew 35th





Falun, Sweden (World Cup Finals)

Friday CL Sprint: Ida 20th

Saturday 15K Skiathlon: Ida 38th

Sunday 10K FR Pursuit:  Ida 40th


Kontiolahti, Finland (IBU World Cup 8)

Thursday 7.5K Sprint: Hannah 28th (0+1), Susan 29th (1+3)

Saturday 7.5K Sprint: Susan 8th (0+1), Hannah 41st (0+2)

Sunday 10K Pursuit: Susan 7th (2+2+1+2), Hannah 49th (1+2+2+3)


Craftsbury, VT (GRP Spring Tour)

Friday CL 3.75K Prologue Men, Ladies: Gordon 4th, Andrew 14th, Pete 17th, Alex S 18th, Jake 21st; Caitlin 1st

Saturday CL Sprint Men, Ladies: Alex S 4th, Gordon 6th, Pete 9th, Andrew 14th, Jake 32nd; Caitlin 1st

Sunday FR Handicap Start Men’s 15K, Ladies’ 10K: Gordon 9th, Andrew 11th, Jake 12th, Pete 22nd, Alex S 38th; Caitlin 1st


Jericho, VT (US Biathlon National Championships)

Friday Individual: Ethan 1st (0+0+1+2), Mike 4th (2+3+2+4); Clare 2nd (2+3+0+4)

Saturday Sprint: Clare 2nd (0+2); Mike 4th (1+5), Ethan 5th (1+2)

Sunday Mass Start: Ethan 5th (2+2+3+1), Mike 6th (2+2+3+2); Clare 2nd (4+4+3+1)


Valdidentro, Italy (OPA Cup Finals)

Friday FR 2.5K Ladies, 3.3K Men: Liz 31st; Pat 57th

Saturday CL 10K Ladies, 15K Men: Liz 38th; Pat 60th

Sunday FR Pursuit 10K Ladies, 15K Men: Liz 29th; Pat 22nd






Bretton Woods, NH (Bretton Woods Marathon)

Saturday CL 42K Mass Start: Pete 5th


Drammen, Norway (World Cup)

Wednesday CL Sprint: Ida 35th


Oslo, Norway (World Cup)

Sunday 30K CL Mass Start: Ida 42nd


Pokljuka, Slovenia (IBU World Cup 7)

Thursday 7.5K Sprint: Susan 38th (0+4), Hannah 84th (5+3)

Saturday 10K Pursuit: Susan 20th (1+0+2+2)


Rogla, Slovenia (OPA Cup)

Saturday CL Sprint: Liz 28th, Pat 37th

Sunday FR Mass Start 15K Ladies, 30K Men: Liz 27th, Pat 31st





Lahti, Finland (World Cup)

Saturday FR Sprint: Ida 44th





Sochi, Russia (Olympic Winter Games – Biathlon)

Wednesday Mixed Relay: USA 8th (including Susan and Hannah)

Friday Ladies’ 4x6K Relay: USA Ladies 7th (including Susan and Hannah)


Hayward, WI (American Birkebeiner)

Thursday FR City Sprints Men, Ladies: Alex S 3rd, Pat, Gordon; Liz

Saturday 50K FR Men, Ladies:  Gordon 19th, Pat 25th, Andrew 31st; Caitlin 8th, Clare 9th, Liz 41st





Sochi, Russia (Olympic Winter Games – Nordic)

Tuesday FR Sprint: Ida 19th

Thursday CL 10K Individual: Ida 34th


Sochi, Russia (Olympic Winter Games – Biathlon)

Tuesday 10K Pursuit: Susan 18th (0+1+0+3)

Friday 15K Individual: Hannah 23rd (1+0+0+1), Susan 34th (1+1+2+1)


St. Paul, MN (US SuperTour)

Saturday CL Mass Start 10K Ladies, 15K Men: Caitlin 5th; Patrick 8th, Gordon 9th, Alex H 20th, Alex S 31st

Sunday FR Individual 5K Ladies, 10K Men: Caitlin 5th; Gordon 12th, Patrick 13th, Andrew 21st, Alex H 32nd, Alex S 33rd


Waterville Valley, NH (NENSA Eastern Cup)

Saturday FR 10K Mass Start: Pete 2nd


Holderness, NH (NENSA Eastern Cup)

Sunday CL 15K Individual: Pete 3rd


Czech Republic (Biathlon Czech Cup)







Sochi, Russia (Olympic Winter Games – Biathlon)

Sunday 7.5K Sprint: Susan 14th (0+1)


Meraaker, Norway (Scando Cup)

Saturday CL Sprint: Liz 45th


Craftsbury, VT (US SuperTour/Dartmouth Carnival)

Friday FR Individual 5K Ladies, 10K Men: Caitlin 2nd; Gordon 11th, Patrick 16th, Andrew 19th, Pete 33rd, Jake 38th

Saturday CL Individual 15K Ladies, 20K Men: Caitlin 5th, Patrick 4th, Gordon 14th, Andrew 19th, Pete 71st, Jake 73rd

Sunday FR Sprint Men, Ladies: Patrick 4th, Alex S 10th, Alex H 16th, Gordon 27th, Jake 34th, Andrew 37th, Pete 44th; Caitlin 3rd





Val di Fiemme, Italy (U23 World Championships)

Wednesday FR Sprint: Liz 39th

Saturday Skiathlon: Liz 41st


Craftsbury, VT (Craftsbury Marathon)

Saturday 50K CL: Gordon 1st


Stowe, VT (Eastern Cup/UVM Carnival)

Saturday CL Sprint Men, Women: Patrick 1st, Alex S 3rd, Alex H 12th, Pete 29th, Andrew 32nd; Caitlin 1st, Clare 4th

Sunday FR Individual 10K Men, 5K Ladies: Patrick 3rd, Alex H 12th, Andrew 13th, Pete 17th, Alex S 66th; Caitlin 1st, Clare 3rd





Jackson, NH (EISA Carnival)

Friday CL 5K Ladies, 10K Men: Caitlin 2nd; Pat 10th, Gordon 17th, Andrew 24th, Pete 42nd

Saturday FR Mass Start 15K Ladies, 20K Men: Caitlin 1st; Patrick 1st, Andrew 11th, Pete 49th


Jericho, VT (North American Biathlon Championships)

Friday 7.5K Sprint: Mike 2nd, Ethan 3rd; Clare 1st

Saturday Pursuit: Clare 1st; Ethan 1st, Mike 3rd

Sunday Mass Start: Ethan 1st, Mike 2nd; Clare 4th





Rumford, ME (Eastern Cup)

Saturday FR Mass Start 15K Men, 10K Ladies: Pat 4th, Gordon 5th, Jake 12th, Alex H 20th, Alex S 45th; Caitlin 1st, Liz 3rd

Sunday 10K CL Men: Pat 1st, Gordon 2nd, Jake 3rd, Alex S 6th, Alex H 12th


Valcartier, Quebec (NORAM)

Saturday Sprint 7.5K Ladies, 10K Men: Clare 1st; Mike 2nd, Ethan 3rd

Sunday Pursuit 12.5K Men, 10K Ladies: Clare 1st; Mike 1st, Ethan 2nd


Antholz-Anterselva, Italy (IBU World Cup 6)

Friday 7.5K Sprint: Susan 4th (0+0), Hannah DNF (broken rifle)

Saturday 10K Pursuit: Susan 24th (0+1+3+1)

Sunday Relay: USA Ladies 18th





Park City, UT (US National Championships)

Wednesday FR Mass Start Men 30K, Ladies 20K: Pat 36th, Andrew 62nd, Gordon 64th, Jake 68th, Pete DNF; Caitlin 5th, Liz 17th

Friday CL Sprint: Alex 8th, Andrew 23rd, Gordon 28th, Pat 42nd, Pete 52nd, Jake 59th; Caitlin 7th, Liz 10th


Ridnaun-Val Ridanna, Italy (IBU Cup 4)

Monday 7.5K Sprint: Hannah 13th (2+0)

Saturday 15K Individual: Hannah 10th (2+0+0+0)

Sunday 7.5K Sprint: Hannah 36th (1+3)


Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic (FIS World Cup)

Saturday FR Sprint: Ida 50th

Sunday CL Team Sprint: Ida (+Sophie Caldwell) 6th


Ruhpolding, Germany (IBU World Cup 5)

Friday 15K Individual: Susan 41st (0+1+0+2)

Sunday 10K Pursuit: Susan 33rd (0+1+2+1)





Park City, UT (US National Championships)

Saturday CL Individual 10K Ladies, 15K Men: Caitlin 3rd, Liz 24th; Gordon 52nd, Andrew 58th, Pat 70th, Pete 86th, Jake 88th, Alex 100th

Sunday FR Sprint Men, Ladies: Pat 20th, Gordon 41st, Alex 45th, Jake 64th, Andrew 75th, Pete 101st; Caitlin 6th, Liz 9th


Oberhof, Germany (IBU World Cup 4)

Friday 7.5K Sprint: Susan 32nd (2+2)

Saturday 10K Pursuit: Susan 25th (0+0+3+1)

Women 12.5K Mass Start: (did not qualify)


Ridnaun-Val Ridanna, Italy (IBU Cup 4)

Sunday 7.5K Sprint: Hannah 15th (1+0)








Craftsbury, VT (Eastern Cup)

Saturday FR Sprint Ladies, Men: Clare 1st; Pat 3rd, Alex S 4th, Alex H 5th, Jake 9th, Ethan 12th, Gordon 14th, Mike 20th, Pete 28th

Sunday CL Mass Start: (cancelled)


Asiago, Italy (World Cup)

Saturday CL Sprint: Ida 10th

Sunday CL Team Sprint: Ida (+Sophie Caldwell) 8th


Grand Rapids, MN (Biathlon IBU Trials, cont’d)

Monday Sprint 10K Men, 7.5K Ladies: Mike 7th (2+1); Clare 3rd (2+3)

Tuesday Mass Start 12.5K Ladies: Clare 2nd (0+2+4+3)

Wednesday Sprint 7.5K Ladies, 10K Men: Clare 1st (1+2); Mike 5th (1+0), Ethan 10th (3+3)





Annecy-Le Grand Bornand, France (IBU World Cup 3)

Friday 4x6K Relay: USA 8th

Saturday 7.5K Sprint: Susan 60th (1+3), Hannah 77th (1+3)

Sunday 10K Pursuit: Susan 53rd, (Hannah did not qualify)


Davos, Switzerland (World Cup)

Saturday FR 15K: (Ida did not race)

Sunday FR Sprint: Ida 41st


Grand Rapids, MN (Biathlon IBU Trials)

Saturday Sprint Men 10K, Ladies 7.5K: Ethan 5th (2+0), Mike 9th (1+4); Clare 3rd (2+4)


Rossland, BC (NorAm)

Saturday FR Sprint Men, Ladies: Andrew 31st; Caitlin 4th, Liz 18th

Sunday CL 10K Ladies, 15K Men: Caitlin 7th, Liz 21st; Andrew 29th





Bozeman, Montana (US SuperTour)

Saturday CL Sprint: cancelled

Sunday CL Mass Start 15K Men, 10K Women: Gordon 10th, Andrew 12th, Pat 19th, Alex 23rd, Jake 24th, Pete 32nd; Caitlin 2nd, Liz 7th


Lillehammer, Norway (World Cup)

Saturday CL 10K: Ida 39th

Sunday 4x5K Relay: USA II 12th (including Ida)


Hochfilzen, Austria (IBU World Cup 2)

Friday 7.5K Sprint: Susan 66th (2+2), Hannah 71st (3+1)

Saturday 4x6K Relay: USA 8th (including Hannah and Susan)

Sunday 10K Pursuit: (no starters)





West Yellowstone, Montana (US SuperTour)

Friday FR Sprint: Alex 7th, Patrick 12th, Gordon 21st, Jake 32nd, Pete 42nd, Andrew 47th; Caitlin 5th, Liz 13th

Saturday FR Individual 10K Women, 15K Men: Caitlin 2nd, Liz 12th; Andrew 14th,  Pete 33rd, Gordon 34th, Patrick 40th, Jake 44th, Alex 70th


Kuusamo, Finland (World Cup)

Friday CL Sprint: Ida 16th

Saturday CL Individual 5K: Ida 35th

Sunday FR Pursuit 10K: Ida 51st


Oestersund, Sweden (IBU World Cup 1)

Thursday 15K Individual: Susan 58th (3+2+1+1), Hannah 80th (1+2+3+2)

Friday 7.5K Sprint: Susan 16th (0+1), Hannah 93rd (4+1)

Sunday 10K Pursuit: (cancelled due to weather)





Beitostolen, Norway (pre-World Cup FIS races)

Friday CL Individual 10K: Ida 29th (one of six Americans in top 30)

Sunday FR Sprint: Ida 13th


Idre, Sweden (IBU Cup 1)

Saturday 7.5K Sprint: Hannah 26th (1+1 penalties)

Sunday 7.5K Sprint: Hannah 28th (2+3)


Oestersund, Sweden (IBU World Cup 1)

Sunday Mixed Relay: USA 12th (including Susan)


Some more on OPA Finals

21.Mar.2014 by Patrick O'Brien

Some more on OPA Finals. Everyone loves pictures!

Looking towards the stadium. The race course lapped over the access bridge to the start.

Looking towards the stadium in Valdidentro. The race course lapped over the access bridge to the start.

Skiing through the slop on Sunday

Skiing through the slop on Sunday

Heading out on the 3rd lap in the pursuit race

Heading out on the 3rd lap in the pursuit race



Contrast baths between races. Hot first

Contrast baths between races at our hotel. Hot tub first

Then cold + repeat

Then cold + repeat

There was also sauna and steam room in the spa

There was also sauna and steam room in the spa

And a shower bucket for in between sauna sessions

And a shower bucket for in between sauna sessions

I  wrote a quick race report from Sunday on the NNF page here. Check out the site for some other athlete reports from OPA and other NNF supported trips. Its really cool to see how much this organization is doing to support US skiing. And a huge thanks to the  techs/coaches for all the hard work they put in during the trip and Bryan Fish for pulling all the logistics together and making the trip happen!







Nordic Cross at Cochran’s

13.Mar.2014 by Caitlin Patterson

Our team’s skiers and biathletes were involved in all sorts of races this past weekend, in Norway, Slovenia and here in Vermont.  On Sunday March 9th, a particularly unusual race was held at Cochran’s Ski Area in Richmond, VT – a Nordic Cross race! I heard about the race a few weeks ago and decided that I simply had to go compete, it sounded like too much fun to miss, even though I didn’t really know what it would entail.  Race description: “Uphill, downhill, slalom gates, jumps, and obstacles, all on one pair of skis” – sign me up!  I tried to get my GRP teammates to join me for the race, but everyone had something else to do, apparently…  Luckily Callie, Jack, and Quincy, some of our Craftsbury BKL/junior skiers, also were at the race, so I had company representing Craftsbury in the green suit – we all finished on the podiums of our age groups too!

Jack, Callie, and Caitlin

Jack, Callie, and Caitlin

Cochran’s is a small family-run alpine mountain, and they did an absolutely fantastic job of setting up this race, with a creative and challenging course, prizes for age group top 3, and a pancake feed after the race.  Nordic cross isn’t exactly a standardized race type, in fact this was probably the first one ever in New England.  For this event though, heats of 5 people left the start each minute on cross country skis, so the skiers were racing the clock for overall placing (but of course racing the people in their heat also).

The course had all the advertised components to provide everyone with plenty of a challenge.  The adult course started at the top of Cochran’s, and included: about 6 definitive steep uphill segments as well as a working gradual uphill, many downhills with a variety of gates from slalom to farther apart GS-type gates, some small jumps as well as a few larger jumps, a drop, banked corners, ungroomed sections through the woods, and carved-out bumps on the groomed area.  The path of the course was marked throughout with spray paint guide-lines and arrows, which was crucial for figuring out where to turn next.  An added challenge was the iciness of the hill, which hadn’t softened much in the sun by the start – the first morning of daylight savings, combined with cold temperatures overnight, meant that quite a bit of the hill was a sheet of ice underneath a little bit of softer groomed snow.  So of course it was scraped down to that ice on all of the corners, leading to even more skidding and lack of traction on our metal-edge-less cross country skis.  It’s safe to say that EVERYONE racing snowplowed and skidded the corners, it was just a matter of how much snowplowing could be avoided to pick up a little extra time.

The winning men’s time was 9:32 (Eli Enman), and I was the first women with a time of 10:53, 12th overall.  (Results: My heat included 3 men and 2 women so it was a great challenge to stay ahead of a few of the guys.  Kids 12 and under did a shorter version of the course, starting lower on the hill, and they were completing their course in as little as 6 minutes. The race was really well attended for a first-time event – several dozen kids raced and 118 adults, including some skiers who had been at JNs in Stowe this past week, various high school and college students, masters and citizen’s racers, ski coaches, and at least one “professional ski racer” (that would be me!).

Women's 20-29 podium, with great prizes from Slopeside Syrup, Skida, EMS, Lake Champlain Chocolate and others

Women’s 20-29 podium, with great prizes from Slopeside Syrup, Skida, EMS, Lake Champlain Chocolate and others

It was a serious adrenaline rush, kind of scary, and also awesome and exactly what I was looking for!  There’s nothing better than this type of event to reinvigorate for the last bit of the season, to remember how cool skiing is and how much fun it is to be able to go off jumps and take sketchy turns on ice, and to burn the lungs with a few uphill sprints.  Yes, in my future races I may be wishing for jumps, but I truly love racing uphill too, so I know I’m in the right sport, Nordic cross was just a great diversion for the day!  Pictures don’t really do the event justice in terms of the intensity of the course, but here are a few from the day.  Thanks to Meredith Young for many of these pictures.  And thanks to Cochran’s for hosting an amazing event!!

From the base - the race finished going up the right side corridor of fencing up to about the top of the red fence

From the base – the race finished going up the right side corridor of fencing up to about the top of the red fence

Riding the T-bar to the top to preview the course.  Before the race start the t-bar was temporarily stopped so most of us just skied up.

Riding the T-bar to the top to preview the course. Before the race start the t-bar was temporarily stopped so most of us just skied up.

View from near the top, with the course zig-zagging down the mountain

View from near the top, with the course zig-zagging down the mountain

Backwards through these gates

Backwards through these gates

Follow the orange spray paint

Follow the orange spray paint

Kids racers gathering for the start

Kids racers gathering for the start

Racers gather for the start at the top of Cochran's

Racers waiting for start instructions at the top of Cochran’s

Callie, in the green Craftsbury tights, leading around a gate

Callie, in the green Craftsbury tights, leading around a gate. Callie won the women’s 13-15 age group.

Racers criss-crossing the slope during the race.

Racers criss-crossing the slope during the race.

Catching air off a little jump during the race!

Catching air off a little jump!

The pancake station

The pancake station. These women were cooking amazing pancakes for hours to feed all the racers and spectators.

Blueberry pancakes on the griddle

Blueberry pancakes on the griddle

Jack devouring his pancakes!  Jack was 2nd place in his age group of 11-12 year olds.

Jack devouring his pancakes! Jack was 2nd place in his age group of 11-12 year olds.

Waiting for awards

Waiting for awards


In the Mix

10.Mar.2014 by Susan Dunklee

I know how to deal with race nerves. I’ve probably competed in over 500 skiing and running races over the course of my life. However, the intensity of pressures I felt before my first Olympic race in Sochi threw me off balance.

It all caught up to me a couple days before Opening Ceremonies. With unreliable shuttle services, we often ended up walking, or rather hiking, between the venue, the cafeteria and our chalet, logging up to 2 extra hours of exercise per day. No matter how well I planned, I was always running behind. I hate being late. We had interviews, team meetings, training, drug tests, and inspection times for race equipment. I quickly gave up staying on top of all my emails and messages, realizing that the energy would better directed towards the races.

And the pressure of races themselves- talk about butterflies! Years of training and preparation that all comes down to a few minutes. The world was watching and I could feel the eyes of Vermont’s entire Northeast Kingdom. Over the past year, I’d had mounting expectations, self-imposed and otherwise. And dreams… The US has never won an Olympic medal in biathlon, it is our nation’s last frontier for the Winter Games. Everyone in the American biathlon community is aware of how far one Olympic medal could go to develop the sport in our country.

Four days before the first race, the anxieties, the exhaustion, and the nerves hit me all at once. We were doing our last important interval workout, and I was running late, again. I nearly missed my assigned start. I frantically threw my rifle onto my back and began skiing without fully understanding what the workout was supposed to be. I was mad at myself for being late and mad at the coaches for not giving clearer instructions ahead of time. I skied fueled by anger, but even more by pent up anxiety from the past days. I thought about how poor quality this last crucial training session was turning out to be as I thrashed around the course on my skis. Then I thought about how detrimental my current attitude was for my upcoming racing, which of course didn’t help. Midway through the intervals, the anxiety manifested itself physically and I started hyperventilating.

The severity of my reaction shocked me as I had never experienced anything quite like that. Normally I am very stable in high pressure situations and my head has always been my strongest asset as a competitor. The good news was that I had four days left to get back on my normal track again. And I had a wonderful staff of coaches and our sports psychologist to help me.

It is not usual for athletes at the Olympics to have moments of freakouts. The trick is to look forward and refocus when they happen.
One of my first tasks was to remember what my job was. It wasn’t to win a medal or achieve a certain result; it was a lot simpler than that. My job was to perform well. If I could do that, the results would take care of themselves. I reminded myself that I didn’t have to do anything special on race day; I only had to do exactly the same thing I did in practice every day for the past several years.

Performing well requires focusing on the process of what you are doing rather than on the result. (Easier said than done!) Take shooting for example. Worrying about hitting targets while shooting can create extra muscle tension. It can also distract the mental focus away from important elements of the shooting process, like trigger squeeze and follow through. When stray thoughts enter your head, it is important to refocus to the task at hand: setting up a relaxed shooting position on the mat or feeling the pressure of the trigger against your finger.

Shooting well requires being 100% focused on the task at hand. Photo: Getty Images.

Over the next few days, I found my normal prerace routines again. I decided that my key word for the Games would be “patience” because it applied to so many things that I was working on. I could be patient on the course and find the most efficient ski technique. Thinking about patience at the shooting range could help me relax and allow the shooting to feel more automated. If (when) unexpected obstacles came up, I could patiently adapt to deal with them. With results, I’d be patient too: I’d work on the tasks at hand and trust that over the course of the Games, something would come together for me.

I was still incredibly nervous at the start line of my first Olympic competition, the 7.5 km sprint. However, I discovered that I could set the tone for the race in the first 100 m after departing from the start gate. Rather than applying a maximum effort to accelerate to full speed immediately, I focused first on finding a smooth rhythm on skis. “Be patient,” I reminded myself. Soon I was skiing very efficiently, carrying forward momentum with each glide. Even the unusual experience of hearing hundreds of camera clicks going up the first hill couldn’t pull me from the zone. As the race progressed, I constantly evaluated the terrain and snow conditions and adjusted my ski technique accordingly, as I had planned with my coaches beforehand. We knew that the real gains or losses on skis would be made on the final pitches of the course’s long climb where everybody would be feeling tired, so I held back from skiing at my full effort until I hit that critical section.

Photo: Competitive Images/USBA

The feeling of control on the ski course also carried over to a relaxed and confident feeling as I approached the shooting range. My shooting felt very automatic and routine, just like in training. I “cleaned” the prone stage, hitting all five. The last stage, standing, felt smooth as I knocked down the first four targets. Only one was left. I took a normal breathe, aimed, and squeezed the trigger. The shot landed just outside the target, which meant I had to make a single visit to the penalty loop.

I was having a fantastic race in spite of the penalty and smiled at myself, but I also knew that one mistake, occurring in just a fraction of a second, had cost me a truly extraordinary result. What I didn’t know at the time was exactly what that result would have been. Turns out had I hit that last shot, I could have walked away with the silver medal that day. Instead I placed 14th. It was close.

The missed shot is the mark closest to the target at 10 o’clock. Photo:

But that is the nature of biathlon; there is usually a very tiny amount separating a great performance from a perfect performance, but that difference can look huge on the results sheet. It was incredibly empowering to realize I had been legitimately “in the mix” for an Olympic medal. And it was humbling to realize that 9 other athletes had come just as close because they also would have stood on that podium, had they only hit one more target.

This past summer, our coaches often had us do a “podium test” shooting drill, in which we imagined we were at a World Cup, or the Olympics, and fighting for a medal. The goal was to hit a certain percentage of the targets in under in a certain amount of time, which they had calculated would be a medal-winning performance for us. The purpose of the drill was to prepare us so we would feel ready and confident in that situation. During our second Olympic race, the pursuit, I was once again in medal contention during the last shooting stage. I entered the range immediately behind the 3rd and 4th place athletes. We had a head-to-head shooting battle, the most exciting and high pressure type, and unfortunately I finished with some trips around the penalty loop and lost several places. It was a disappointing ending, but after the race one of my coaches was quick to point out that I had gotten to do a “real, live podium test at the Olympics.” Pretty cool.

The next couple weeks were a blur with a lot more racing and some truly exciting moments. We had some very strong finishes on the team. Lowell got a top 10, Hannah improved her best World Cup result by over 30 places, and we posted a 7th place in the women’s relay, our highest placing yet. That may have been our best result ever, but it was far from our best performance. we used 13 extra rounds to hit our targets that day, as opposed to 4 and 8 in our other two relays this year, which left us wondering, “what if?”

The massstart where I notched my best result and placed 11th. Photo:

I left Sochi feeling great about my own performances. I did struggle under the pressure a few times and my attitude occasionally got off-track, but I learned that I could refocus before each new race. I posted high results, the best ever for a US woman biathlete (although there is still plenty of room for improvement). My Olympic shooting percentage was more consistent than normal and I felt fearless on skis, ready to challenge anyone. Most of all, I am proud that I was able to truly be myself during much of the Olympics and enjoy the thrill of competing on the world’s biggest stage. I left Sochi hungry for more racing and couldn’t wait for the regular World Cup season to resume.