New Craftsbury Biathlon Coach, Miroslav Segrt

Miroslav Segrt coaching at the IBU cup.

New Craftsbury coach Miro, in action for the Serbian National Team on the IBU cup.

The Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club and Green Racing Project is excited to welcome to the program our new biathlon coach, Miroslav Segrt, who recently arrived in Craftsbury from his home country of Serbia. He will work together with CNSC junior coach Zach Russo and GRP coach Pepa Miloucheva to grow and improve the biathlon program in Craftsbury. We’re very excited to have him on board! Check out our recent interview with Miroslav and make sure to introduce yourself if you see him around the Center.

Okay, first of all, you’re coming to us from a long way away. Have you lived in Serbia your whole life, and what are you most excited about living in Vermont? Any observations from your first couple of weeks in Craftsbury? What is most different about it compared to your home country?

I’ve lived in Serbia (former Yugoslavia) my entire life, most of it in the city of Novi Sad.

I was excited to meet new people and get to know a different culture; then again I was excited because Vermont is considered to be one of the most environmentally-friendly states in the US with lots of woods, lakes and wildlife.

My first observations were that all the people at Craftsbury Outdoor Center were always polite, helpful and excited for getting a new biathlon coach. Also, I was excited to see that the GRP athletes, together with other COC employees are taking environmental responsibility by recycling, composting, and also by growing organic food.

The biggest difference between Serbia and Vermont is that the environmental issues are taken much more seriously here than in Serbia – when speaking of the general public.

Fill us in a little bit on your background in biathlon and the unique skills that you bring to the Craftsbury biathlon program. We understand that you were a competitive rifle shooter in Serbia, what was that like? How did you transition from that to coaching biathlon?

Since the Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo in 1984 I was interested in biathlon. I was only a 3 year old boy at that time, but one of the earliest memories I have is from the 1984 Olympic biathlon race. As I grew up, I tried all different sports such as soccer, basketball, karate, track and field because there was neither skiing nor biathlon within 200 mile radius. Eventually, I took up shooting, took it more seriously and good results came.

I hadn’t forgotten my thirst for biathlon and in 2006 Serbia had its first biathlete, Aleksandar Milenkovic, in the Olympics in Turin, Italy. I made a contact with that biathlete and he invited me to join his team in training. They were lacking in shooting technique and precision so eventually “I took one for the team” and changed my competitive biathlon dream to become a coach of a team that needed one.

The major thing in sport shooting and marksmanship is to realize that the worst rival you may have is yourself, which also refers to biathlon and other sports, not to mention life in general. There’s only you, your rifle, wind flag, and a target, nothing else, nobody else, your mind is set to do just one thing – to hit that center of the target. You try and learn, accept each imperfection, each error, each frustration, and each miss, because they are you at your best, and eventually practice makes perfect, so you will become better and more skillful.

You also have a background in environmental studies, with a master’s in Environmental Engineering. What field did you focus on specifically, and do you have any ideas for what you would like to implement in Craftsbury, if possible?

This year, October 1st, I successfully defended my master thesis in environmental engineering studies regarding a waste management procedure called “Landfill mining” and its application to Novi Sad’s landfill. One interesting thing is that one of the examples in my thesis, among many others throughout the world, came from Vermont, because it was the first state in the US that successfully conducted a Landfill mining project.

I was overwhelmed when I saw windmills and solar panels here, the composting facilities and different recycling bins, not to mention the drainage system in the new building that produces no waste water from the toilets.

Do you have any goals for the biathlon program in Craftsbury for this coming season? What are you most excited to bring to the program?

I am hoping to bring back the “Craft” in the Craftsbury biathlon program (just kidding), referring to precision shooting in biathlon, rifle handling improvement and mental training. I also would like to bring more people, especially kids, to the biathlon program at Craftsbury and to help organize more races of all levels.

This season’s goal is, together with Pepa and Zach, to help GRP and junior biathletes reach one of the USBA teams for this season or next.

Also, I have a dream, that there will be an All-Craftsbury-Women’s and Mixed Relay USBA team for the WC and WCH in the next couple of years or maybe even the Olympics in 2018. I hope that some of you are sharing that same dream too.

And a few less serious questions, but no less important!

Chocolate or vanilla?
Definitely chocolate!

Summer or winter?
I was born on the first day of winter and I’m a biathlon coach, so figure it out. Although winter is my favorite season, I appreciate and enjoy each and every season, including the mud season.

Ice cream or cake?
Ice cream. I would like to try that Ben and Jerry’s ice cream eventually…

Skiing or rowing?
Both! Maybe we’ll organize some kind of rowing biathlon in summer.

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