Former biathlete, current coach….all round nordic enthusiast!

An elite athlete competing in the sport of biathlon: nordic ski racing combined with marksmanship

Sunday, March 10, 2013

It's the Essence of the Sport (that can be frustrating)

This weekend we had US Nationals right here in Fort Kent, ME. We (spoiled) MWSC athletes got to enjoy perfect conditions on our home courses done up "World Cup Style". 10th Mountain pulled out all the stops, brought forth a fleet of volunteers, and put on a great event. Unfortunately it wasn't too well attended, but our sport is small and when most of the U.S. National team members and other elite U.S. biathletes are either in Europe or unwilling to make the trek, numbers are low. Luckily we were joined by a good-sized group of Canadians so the event was still fun.

Friday was highlighted by the 100+ school kids that came to watch from Fort Kent and Eagle Lake Elementary schools. I have been visiting them monthly to talk about healthy lifestyles and biathlon so it was great that they could come and watch our races. They also did a great job of being top notch biathlon fans, making posters, noise-makers and cheering (VERY) loudly. I know the other competitors enjoyed their encouragement as well.

The kiddos cheering section in the bleachers (L), and one of the classes showing off their awesome posters after the races ended (R).

Signing autographs like crazy (L) and more kiddos waiting for the bus back to school (R). 
(Left photo credit: John Metz)

One of the kid's parents made me this awesome flag as a gift and all the kids in his class signed it. Can't wait to hang in up at home....a very special gift that I will cherish. Thank you!

Raleigh, Omar and myself: all smiles after lots of hugs and autographs with school kids. 

My teammate Raleigh bringing home a victory on day 1. 

My races went well the first two days but then I bombed (yes, that's a good word for it) today's mass start event. Friday (sprint race) I shot (1,1) to take the win, following by an excellent day in Saturday's pursuit, shooting (1,1,0,0). For those who don't know, those are Friday I missed 2/10 and Saturday I missed 2/20. Based on the first two races you might conclude that I'm a good shot so the skiing must have been terrible today. That wasn't the case. Today I shot (4,1,3,1). I'm really not sure what happened....usually I'm a very consistent shooter, especially in prone.  I skied reasonably well today as I think Clare (the woman who beat me) and I had the same number of penalties. Clare is a new biathlete so for her, our shooting today was probably pretty good. She's a quick skier so keeping up with me on the range was a big step for her, even if I had to have a bad day for it to happen. I finished within sight of her and she has finished in the top 10 at US XC Nationals a few times in the last couple of years. Improving ski speed was a big goal for me this year so finishing close to someone like her is a good indication that I'm doing just that. Aside from today I've had one other race this season with terrible shooting so I'm trying hard not to let it get to me but yes, it was very, very frustrating.

With this morning hanging over me as I write this, I do need to remind myself that I can't be too down on myself. I did win twice (very decisively) this weekend which makes me a two-time National Champion!

Gentle getting ready to head out on course for the sprint race. (Photo credit: Ali Prescott)

Paralympic athlete Omar Bermejo joined us for the weekend all the way from Sun Valley, ID. I think he had a good time despite breaking a pole before the mass start this morning. He's sticking around the County for another week so if you see him, be sure to say hi. He's a great guy and we've enjoying having him visit!

Mike (L), Raleigh (C), and Omar (R) on the Men's podium after the sprint. (Photo credit: Ali Prescott)

Clare (L), myself (C), and Helene (R) on the women's podium after the sprint. 
(Photo credit: Ali Prescott)

Cody takes off in the sprint while Gentle cheers from behind. (Photo credit: Ali Prescott)

MWSC gold medal winners from the sprint race: Raleigh, Gentle, Cody, and myself. 
(Photo credit: Ali Prescott)

Lydia taking aim in her first biathlon races ever. I sure hope she had fun! (Photo credit: Ali Prescott)

Heading out on course in the pursuit race. (Photo credit: Ali Prescott)

Heading toward the range in the pursuit. (Photo credit: John Metz)

Mikaela (a friend from my days at Gunstock Nordic) is all smiles after finishing. 

Oh so very, very tired. 

Omar killing the one-arm technique on a hill above the stadium. 

Saturday's pursuit podium, same order as Friday. 

What's next? Not a lot until I head to Mammoth at the end of the month. This week I'm hoping for some crust cruising before the rain hits and then hopefully a good time volunteering at the Eastern High School races at Nordic Heritage in Presque Isle before (maybe) doing a marathon at Four Seasons in Madawaska on Sunday.

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