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

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

My path to now…

Click on any of the photos to see them larger….

Since creating this page I've taken a big step and decided to retire from full-time competition and am no longer competing as a biathlete. Instead I've found myself an awesome position as a nordic coach at Green Mountain Valley School in Waitsfield, VT! 

How does this:
(My brother and I out for an adventure together way back when....)

become this? 
Still skiing and training together - Ramsau, Austria, 2006 & 2009

(L) Training in Italy together - 2003 & (R) Sitting on the podium together, Junior Nationals 2005


How did I end up a full-time athlete training in Northern Maine?

Well, simply put: I skied fast!

But it took me eleven years to end up here. It’s been a long road but one that I’d recommend to anyone willing to make the journey. The sacrifices (yes, I chose that word carefully) and rewards have been well worth it and I will continue to follow the trails wherever they lead me so long as I’m enjoying it.

Top of a mountain in Colorado - Thanksgiving 2006

My family has a long history of being active and loving the changing seasons that we are blessed with in New England. We live on a farm so life revolves around working the land and being outside a lot. My parents were both ski patrollers at Gunstock before I was born but also enjoyed cross country skiing on occasion. 

My paternal grandmother, Helen, out for a ski in the woods near our farm. 

Me, taking a break while on a cross country skiing adventure somewhere when I was young...

Playing outside was a daily activity for my brother and I when we were young...and judging from the smile on my face here, it looks like I enjoyed it right from the start!

More smiles outside...Alex and I posing for a Christmas shot 

I started nordic skiing "for real" in eighth grade when the cross-country running coach asked me to come out…kind of. He asked me in fall right after the running season finished but at that point I was an avid alpine skier (my whole family skied and my dad was head of the local ski patrol) and thought cross country skiing was about the lamest activity out there. I told him “No way” and that was that. Until February. We had a huge snowstorm during our winter break from school and my dad wouldn’t let us ski during school breaks because there were too many “yuppies” on the mountain who didn’t ski well, making it dangerous. So I called the ski coach back and asked if I could try it. Obviously he said yes, and that was that.  I skied with him for the rest of that winter and never quit.

The following four years I went on to stand on the podium in just about every high school race I entered. I qualified for the J2 festival my freshman year and then for the Junior Nationals as a sophomore. I raced at the Eastern High School Championships twice (as a freshman and junior) and went on a racing exchange trip to St. Petersburg, Russia (as a junior). My senior year I made my second trip to junior nationals but didn’t do anything spectacular once there. 

Gilford High School Nordic Ski Team, 2004. 
This photo was taken shortly after our girls team won our first ever State Championship.

My first Junior Nationals - 2002, McCall, Idaho.

That might sound like a lot of skiing for a high-schooler but I didn’t completely dedicate myself to skiing until after my senior year. Yes, I did the summer camp thing and trained all summer with my local club, but come fall I was on the cross-country running team. It wasn’t skiing but I liked it and it helped me stay in shape, so why not? Winters I skied, both for the high school team and the local club team. I did every race I could find, even entering in a twenty-five kilometer double pole race (it was a completely flat course) in just my second year on Nordic skis. You might ask, why? I didn’t do it because my coaches or parents pushed me to. No, there were no expectations, no time requirements, no one I absolutely had to beat. I just love it and had a huge smile on every I put my skis on so my parents kept agreeing when I asked to go. Come spring I ditched my skis and poles for a mitt and played catcher for the high school varsity softball team all four years. Interestingly enough, after “retiring” from softball when I graduated high school in 2004, it took until 2010 for the number of years I had skied to elapse how long I’d played ball. My junior year we won the softball state championship and then my senior year I was named Player of the Year for our class and then the Twin State Tournament MVP in the NH vs. VT tournament pitting each state’s best seniors against one another. I think I surprised a few people when asked where I was going to play in college. “Ummmm, I’m not going to. I want to ski in college.”

That's me in the catching gear...and yes, the girl on the left was "0ut" on that play!

All smiles after a race in Holderness, NH. I think I was a J2 in this photo. 

As a high school senior I looked at schools based on academics first, but I also narrowed my search based on who had a ski team that sounded like a good program for me. I chose the University of Vermont, but not because I was recruited. Oh, no. The coach at the time actually told me I would have to try out and might make the team but I wouldn’t race on the Carnival Circuit (college teams compete in a closed circuit and each team can only field six men and six women in each race). At the time that sounded reasonable but as the summer passed and freshman move-in weekend came closer I changed my mind. I deferred and stayed home to train full-time and race with my club team for a year. I was going to be on that carnival team and had to be faster to do it.

Uphill rollerski race, New Durham, NH summer 2004. 
Not my forte in the least but anything that hurts that badly can only make me stronger!

That year, between high school and college, was the first year I really trained. Yes, in high school I had gone to summer camps and trained almost every day, but this was more serious. My coach and I sat down and came up with some goals and a plan. I wanted to race at Junior Nationals again but I didn’t want to be on the second page of the results anymore. I wanted to stand on the podium. I wanted the results that would get me on that Carnival team the following season at UVM. That was the plan.

Specific strength on rollerskis. Yes, that's a tire I'm pulling. 

So my coach told me, “Ok Katrina, but you’ll have to change some things.” And I did. She asked me to make some sacrifices and promised I would see improved results. And again, I did. Social life: over. Late nights: nope. Junk food: forget it. Multiple days off in a row: yeah right. My life became skiing. I ate healthy food from my family’s farm, went to bed at nine, got up at six, trained twice a day, took naps, and took care of myself. I watched race footage all the time and visualized my plan and followed it.

2005 Junior Nationals, Truckee, CA

It paid off better than I could have imagined. My brother and I both qualified for Junior Nationals easily that year, he as a J2 (14 & 15 year olds are J2s) and I as an OJ (18 & 19 year olds). In the four events we both raced that week we came home with seven medals of a possible eight between us. I was the one to miss a medal and it was because I missed my start. Some would kick themselves for that mistake but I knew how much I’d missed by and when I studied the results I knew I’d still skied a top five race so I was satisfied. I went from a “second page finisher” the year previous to a regular contender for medals. I took second in the sprint, third in the skate distance, 11th in the classic distance (this was my missed start) and second in the relay. And to top it all off, when I got home there was a message on the answering machine from the coach at UVM. Was I still interested in skiing for him the following year?

Mass start EISA collegiate race - Stowe, VT 

You bet I was. I went on to ski for UVM in 23 of a possible 24 Carnivals over my four years there. The one race I missed was my freshman year when I gave my start spot up for a senior teammate so she could race one more time before graduating. I qualified for the NCAA Division I Skiing Championships twice and co-captained the team my senior year. It was a fantastic realization of my goals from that year I had taken to train between high school and college but I somehow I still wasn’t satisfied. I hadn’t had enough yet.

Skate distance race, US National Championships, Houghton MI 2005

UVM Women's Team Dress-up Day - Stowe VT 2008

UVM fall camp classic distance ski, 3 hours. Lake Placid, NY - 2007

UVM Commencement 2009
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Athletic Training.

After graduating from college I was asked to try biathlon as a member of US Biathlon’s development team (a program that, unfortunately, no longer exists). I was recruited because I could ski fast, not because I could shoot. I had done a bit of shooting with a coach in Vermont but was by no means accurate, not ever. Biathlon coaches looking for new athletes will look for youngsters who can ski fast, maintaining that with good coaching, almost anyone can learn to shoot. The hard part and the part that takes the most effort and time to learn and get good at, is the skiing. I had the skiing down already so now it was time to add shooting to my repertoire.

Knocking 'em down in Jericho, VT - January 2009

Ski walking intervals up Sugarloaf, Fall 2010 

I moved into the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Lake Placid and once again, trained full-time. My year in New York was very productive for me, but as spring neared I realized I was tired and in need of some changes. That change found me when a MWSC coach asked me to consider their program for the coming season. I made a visit during the final races of my first season as a full-time biathlete, which were conveniently held right in Fort Kent, ME.

Taking to the trails in West Yellowstone, Thanksgiving 2011

Leaving it all out on the trail...
Biathlon NorAm Cup racing in Jericho, VT, January 2011

My first impressions were that it was far away from home and the rest of New England. Really far away. But the pros of that option far outweighed the cons. I no longer wanted to live the dorm in Lake Placid and with the development team being discontinued, living in the OTC was no longer an option anyways. So I took a leap of faith and moved to Fort Kent in May. It took me eight and a half hours to get up here but it was worth the drive.
Nothing beats training with a big group of happy, athletic people like my teammates in MWSC
3.5 hour point-to-point hike: MWSC Sugarloaf Camp, August 2011

Modeling our new uniforms in sunny West Yellowstone. Thanksgiving, 2011.

Now in my third season with Maine Winter Sports Center, I can say for sure that this program is amazing. I love first and foremost, the “community-feel” that the program and Aroostook County offer. The people who live up here love to follow the athletes and are very supportive and encouraging all the time. The funding and coaching support MWSC provides for athletes of all ages is really quite remarkable and fairly unmatched anywhere else in this country. So here I am, in Fort Kent, ME, being a full-time athlete and making the most of the opportunities this sport and this program send my way.

Listening to instructions before Ride Aroostook, a diabetes fundraiser we rode in as a team. 
Presque Isle, ME Summer 2011

Now for those of you aspiring young athletes (and parents of young athletes) out there who might be reading this, a few take home thoughts based on what I’ve learned in the last ten years. If you remember anything of what I’ve written here, hopefully it will be what you read next:
First, when you’re young, you don’t have to specialize in just one thing. I played softball and ran cross-country right through my senior year in high school. Being active and healthy is what’s most important. Sure, I went to ski camps in summer and trained almost all the time, but I had broad interests and that’s healthy. If you do too much of one thing when you have interests elsewhere as well, chances are you will get bored of that one activity because it’s holding you back from others. Even now, as a full-time athlete, I’m not a full-time biathlete. My training consists of all manner of things and that’s how I stay interested. Road bike, mountain bike, run on the roads, run in the woods, jump rope, ski, ride a unicycle, paddle a kayak or canoe, rollerblade, jump on a trampoline, hike, swim…do whatever you want so long as you’re moving, outdoors and having fun!

This picture's here to prove that you're never too old or too good at skiing to play games for training. Above: My brother and a teammate volley for control during a UVM Ski Team soccer match. Fall 2008 Stowe, VT

Hiking and running can take you to as many cool places as skiing can...mix it up!
View from a hillside outside Ramsau, Austria

Find someone to ski with! Whether it's a friend, a younger skier or a parent...going with someone else is always fun. Teaching another will also help you improve your own skills...I ski with my mom all the time when I'm home! 

My mom, Martina - Gunstock Nordic Center, Gilford NH

Probably one of the best parts of my skiing career has been that I've gotten to share it with my family. My brother, more than any, has been right there with me for all of it and sharing the experiences with him have been really special. 
Skiing can be great for your whole's not just for racers! 

Take care of your body. Yes, I do mean exercise, but there are other pieces to that as well. It means keeping a regular sleep schedule. In college I had lots of stuff on my plate each day but I always maintained a sleeping pattern: bed at nine, up at six. Your body will be happier if you follow the sun.

Sunrise Hike up Mount Mansfield, VT. 
6 a.m. at the top...

Watching the sun come up from the top of Sugarloaf USA, Fall 2010, 6 a.m.

Being healthy also means taking in what’s good and leaving out what’s bad. What does that mean? Yes, I’m referring to vegetables and junk food. Eat what’s good for you and don’t even consider what’s not. If you want to get a good workout in you have to give your body the means to produce that workout. And remember, what goes in after is equally as important. Cupcakes and soda will never produce an elite athlete.

I try to eat a salad or some significant portion of vegetables every day. 

Don’t be afraid to have dreams but remember that with those dreams you should also have realistic and attainable goals. What does that mean? Don’t set your bar so high that you can’t see how to get there. Make a ladder of goals that should eventually lead to your dream, whether that’s a state championship next year or the Olympics in ten years. Climb that ladder by attaining small goals along the way and you’ll continue to get closer to that top rung all the time.

 Challenge yourself and even if you miss your goal you'll still have gained the courage you needed to reach for it!
-High ropes obstacle course, Ramsau, Austria 2009-

Jumping for joy at the top of Belknap Mountain, Gilford NH Summer 2010

Give and take. That was something I had to learn in my first years as a skier. I wanted good coaching to help me move forward as an athlete but to deserve that coaching I had to give of myself as well. If a coach asks you to do something, you do it. You give your effort. That’s how you gain their respect and get them to want to help you pursue your dreams. This applies to everything they say, that’s the tough part. If your coach asks you to stretch, stretch. Run, then run. Keep a training log. Eat well. Sleep. Be on time. Sometimes it’s as simple as “be quiet”. It’s a respect thing. If you do what they ask of you, they will continue to ask of you and you will get better. If you don’t do what they ask, their interest in pushing you further will never develop and you will have a tough uphill path to where you want to be, especially when you’re going to be pushing yourself to get there instead of being helped along by a coach. Tough concept but if you can get it, you’ll be a better athlete for it.

And finally, skiing (or any sport) has to be something you enjoy before you can expect to find any success. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t worry about it. Find what you do enjoy and do that instead. Skiing is not for everyone and that’s okay.

My path to now includes a lot but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Right now I’m 25 and still able to ski competitively. I lead a very healthy lifestyle and have acquired life skills throughout my career that will continue to benefit me after sport. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this! I hope you enjoyed it!

How could anyone not want to ski on a trail like that? 
Foret Montmorency, Quebec, 2005