Sunday, February 17, 2008

"Cold Nose, Warm Heart"

"Kalla Nasa, Varm Hjart" Cold Nose, Warm Heart was the slogan for this year's Biathlon World Championships held in the proud northern city of Ostersund, Sweden.

Hello! This is the final day and I will race in the Women's Relay this afternoon. I will be the third leg of the relay, after Tracy and Lanny Barnes and will hand off to Caitlin Compton. There are 21 teams racing today, so we have a great opportunity to do well.

Relays are usually everyone's favorite race. Biathlon is so individual; you are always trying to "ski your own rest" and to do your "own best" so that you don't get caught up and distracted. Well, today it is for a team and for the US. Our coaches said it well in that we need one spirit during this race and to all work together to achieve one great result.

The racing is going to be incredibly exciting. Each leg skis a 6km race with two shooting stages, prone then standing. However, today, we get three extra rounds. In case we miss, we have extra bullets to try to hit the targets and to keep up with our competitors (or to move ahead!). This is the perfect race to end on because of these added elements of motivation - more teammates and more bullets:).

The US Biathlon Team during an interview. Lowell, with the guitar, wrote a theme song for out team that we are "trying" to perform here.

This week has been awesome and I am so happy to be here. I have had some amazing experiences! To race with the world's best biathletes has been a great opportunity to learn where how much faster I need to ski and how much better I will need to shoot in order to be world class. I am excited to make it to this new level, now I must re-work my training and my goals so that I can perform well at this high level in the future.

One of the coolest parts of the week was having my Dad, Ken, here to watch the first two races, the Sprint and the Pursuit. Here we are taking a ride on "sparks", kick sleds, at the local museum:

You have got to get one of these sparks. One of the coolest things about living in a northern climate. They are basically wooden chairs on long steel runners. It was nice to have my Dad here becuase it gave us the opportunity to see more of Ostersund, the city we were staying in. It is a beautiful northern city with walking, bike and ski trails all over the place. The city is on a large lake, skating and skiing on the lake is quite popular too. The Swedes were very proud to host the World! And it was a joy to be able to talk to some of them - in Swedish - about it.

This is "Birger" the competition's mascot. Legend has it that he is the sea monster that lives in the lake next to Ostersund. I will bring you a book all about! Yesterday I watched on of the races, the Women's Mass Start. Briger and I were one of 27,000 people!!! There were sooooo many people all over the places. The packed into the woods, in the stadium, in the stands, and along the trail! And when they moved to be able to follow the lead racers through the pack it was like a snowstorm of people through the woods. And their cheers were fantastic. I was out on the course, but I could hear and feel the cheering energy through the forest. Everyone was quite excited and happy to be there too.

I am on the final turn towards the finish here. You can see the stands of people behind me.

This a view of the stadium start area, I am actually the person you can barely see underneath the orange. On the right there is the big screen showing one of the Swedish biathlets shooting. Further to the right is the shooting range. Oh, and the big Norwegian flag in the middle of course.

This is my teammate Lanny Barnes and I. We started at different times, but were close enough to ski with eachother part of the way. Go USA!

Next, I will fly to Germany to train for a week. The on February 23 I will fly to Korea. Thanks for following! I hear there is lots of snow in the County - hope your winter has been great!

best, haley

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