Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dear 4th grade: And now, I am in Bled, Slovenia

Does this not look like Lake Placid at night on Mirror Lake?

I really enjoyed getting to see a new country. Slovenia has a very neat and different feel to it, even though I was only mere hours from Austria and Germany. We arrived in the evening, which is always fun, because the morning brings such suprise about the surrounding area, town and nature.
Looking down towards the shooting range and stadium in Pokljuka, were the races were held.

A "small town" of wax cabins for all of the countries is the place where our skis are made to be fast!
Our poles are all lines up and ready to go:
And here are all of our training skis:
All week, every week, we spend a lot of time in the above places, so each week I make sure I get out to enjoy the town I am staying in. The town of Bled is on a lake similar in size to Mirror Lake, but with an island and castle in the middle!

Local legend has it that this castle has been a popular wedding spot for a long time and before the wedding the groom must carry the bride of these 99 steps. I think my fiance could hack that:)

I ran around the lake on my last day before heading back home. It is a quite place, but bustling with visitors taking pictures as the stroll around the lake as I did. I was also quite taken by the "villas" and old estates that peppered the shoreline. I remember visiting old "camps" and even the Lake Placid Club when I was young - there is a similar "old" feel to this place.

When I arrived - I new this place had a good feel to it. Training went well, racing went okay, better and better than even I expected after a challenging start to my season. In the Individual race I hit 19 for 20 targets and placed 21st - a personal best for the World Cup and a result which also pre-qualified me for the 2010 Olympic Team. It happened so much faster than I expected, but now in retrospect I believe it all came at the right time. I have worked hard, and am prepared to work even harder. After this next block of World Cups (Germany and Italy) its the home stretch towards the games - both periods will offer me time to train and race with new goals and achievements so that in February I can be at or closer to my peak performance.

In 2007, when still with the Maine Winter Sports Center, I was on the Potato Picker's Special at 4am up in the County during potato harvest with John Farra (who is now head of the Nordic Sports for the US) and I told them the revelation I had when buying a can of beans that was marked with "Best by 2010." At that point, I new I was on the road to also be "Best by 2010."

Thank you to all have helped me get this far!

Dear 4th grade: Hochfilzen, Austria and Race Preparation

My second week of racing was spent in Hochfilzen, Austria. We stayed in a hotel at the bottom of the valley beneath tall mountains such as this one shown below.

The venue is up at the top of the valley, and when it poured rain down below it snowed wet, big, heavy flakes on the ski trails.
This is the view of the orange "start" house, next to the shooting range. The stands rise just to the left of this photo in this very spectator friendly venue. All of the trails are out in the open and weave throughout numerous spectator sections.

Race day begins right here at the start. First, I need to zero my rifle. Do you remember the paper targets that I showed you during my visits? In the photo below, you can see the target numbers and 10 black dots below - those are the paper targets I brought in. On the left you can see a scope, which a coach uses to watch each athletes shots. We check our rifles each day we shoot to adjust for wind, light and a new range. It is very important to be as accurate as possible.

Next, skis are tested. We have a staff of wax technicians who test our skis and the best ski wax for the day. Usually, our skis are quite fast and that makes racing quite fun. Just as we need to be accurate with shooting, we also need to pay close attention to how accurate our skis are for the day. There are many different snow conditions that we can encounter during the race season. For each condition we have a certain pair of skis; one for wet snowball snow, one for dry new snow, for example. Our wax technicians help us determine the best pair for race day.

After ski testing and zero, it is time to warm up my body and mind. I spend one or two more loops inspecting the course so that I know which technique to use where, or where to ski hard and where to relax. I make a mental check of what I want to focus on during the race, make sure I have my race bib on and head to the start.

Inspecting even means noticing the unique scenes along the course; someone had fun building this cheering snowman.

The crowd too is getting excited and ready for the start, flags wave and horns are blown.

On Sunday, I got to watch the women's relay. Here is a photo just before the start, as the 23 teams leading woman prepares to get into the starting line-up.

Here, spectators line the hill on the course and cheer exuberantly as the racers go by.

I had to head back down for lunch, so I didn't get to see the first shooting stage. It was an exciting race to watch because the leaders continued to change with each leg. In the relay there are 4 legs, each skiing 6km and shooting twice. The bonus of a relay is that you get three extra rounds for each shooting stage. So, if you miss you get a few extra chances. For the men's relay, they also have 4 legs, but they ski 7.5km each.

I competed in the Sprint race this week (, 2 shooting stages, penalty loops for missed shots) and was happy with some better shooting. I skied the course well, but still do not feel like I am up to my race speed yet. But, that's okay. I have three more races in Slovenia in the following week.

Dear 4th Grade: Ostersund, Sweden

Thank you all for your birthday and holiday wishes last week! Well, I am finally catching up with you and a have some photos of where I have been racing the past few weeks. These first ones are from Ostersund, Sweden.

A bit of holiday cheer on the course.

This is the stadium. From left to right you have the finish area, the start area and the firing range. The city of Ostersund is behind and below this venue which sits up on a hill. The ski course is in the foreground. If you could guess which time this photo was taken, would even imagine that this is about 3pm in the afternoon! This far north the sun is only ever rising or setting. On this particular race day we competed under very bright lights.

Looking due west towards Norway from the ski course.

This past weekend was the Scandinavian holiday, Santa Lucia. It is a celebration of lights ushered in by "Santa Lucia" in a white gown and a crown candles. One of our teammates, Tim Burke from Paul Smiths, did exceptionally well here this week and during his prize giving ceremony in the city center we were entertained by traditional Swedish music and winter celebration.

I really enjoy skiing here in Ostersund and was here only a few months ago for a training camp. I felt ready for the season, but unfortunately had a challenging start this year. And as I am learning, that is sometimes how sport goes. Week one of racing is complete, and now its off to Hochfilzen, Austria.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A few days until the season begins

A day of rest, some ski testing and final race preparation training sessions lay ahead the next few days before the first competition Wednesday evening, under the lights, that will kick off the 09/10 season.

Recently, I had an article published in our local Tri-Lakes Free-Trader, if you'd like to check it out.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ostersund, Sweden

Travel from home to Ostersund was smooth and easy. Unfortunately, I arrived to little snow and weather only a tad bit cooler than our recent warm November weather. Reserved snow from last season has helped to thicken the snow base on the race course and skiing is supposably OK. Regardless, it is nice to be back in Sweden, now a quite familiar place, and in final preparation for the upcoming competitions. Photos and more to come.

Monday, November 16, 2009

5 days until I leave: Sweden, Austria & Slovenia

Monday morning is always the start of my training week and today marks the final week of dryland training for the 2009-2010 season. That means there are only 5 rollerski sessions left!

It has been a great training year and I am really excited about heading into next week's training camp and to kick off the World Cup season in Ostersund, Sweden.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

100 Days To Vancouver - NYC trip

100 Days to Vancouver - In between finishing a camp in Utah and returning home to Placid, I took a quick trip to New York City last week to help promote and celebrate the Olympics with fellow winter Olympic sports, Manhattan school kids, the US Olympic Committee and the media.

Local kids, and anyone passing through Rockefeller Center, learned about biathlon from USBA staff, athletes and Concept2 - SkiErg staff.

They watched us shoot the laser biathlon rifle after poling on the double-pole machine to get our heart rate up.

Then, cheered for every hit!

Afterwards, it was their turn - nearly 300 of them all circulated through USBA's booth, as well as skated on the ice at Rockefeller Center, watched aerialist do tricks on the trampolines and even gave luge a try on the luge start ramp.

Teammates Lowell, Tim and I in NYC.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Park City 5th grade class visit

While training at Soldier Hollow this month, I got the opportunity to visit a class of 5th graders at Parley's Elementary School in Park City. We had plenty of time to talk about biathlon, traveling and answering their questions. This was a fun group who offered some great questions about skiing and shooting. Defining my sport, and its difficulty, really came through however once I showed them a paper target from the morning's training session that demonstrated what a group of 5 prone and 5 standing shots at 50 meters looks like, AND, with the help of their imaginations I demonstrated both shooting positions.

Demonstrating the standing position.

Demonstrating the prone position.

This is a lucky bunch of kids who are growing up in an Olympic town, just the same as I did. Growing up, I dabbled in speedskating, raced alpine competitively until I was 15, even tried figureskating (but ultimately chose skiing to my parents' great relief), my siblings ventured off into the freestyle world, I skied Bill Koch with the local ski club occasionally, took one shot at jumping off the 15m ski jump and also had a couple opportunities to give luge a try. Along with school, sports was obviously something I have always been in to, but honestly never thought it would actually become my career. In retrospect I am very glad that I had so many opportunities to take advantage of living in the wintry Adirondacks and was able to use sport as a mode for learning about my self, being a teammate, good sportswoman, getting outdoors, setting goals and achieving them. Now that I travel the world with biathlon, I am thankful I had a pretty good base to start from.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dear 4th Grade: Your questions

I got a nice email from the 4th grade class in Lake Placid with a bunch of questions:

At least it's the morning here in Lake Placid. I wonder what time it is where you are?
It is the end of the day for me when I am writing this - about 10pm, which means its 12am in Lake Placid and you are all hopefully fast asleep.

Where are you going?
From when I saw you last I traveled to Denver, Colorado to visit family, and then continued on to the little town of Midway, Utah. Why Midway? Soldier Hollow, the 2002 Winter Olympic Nordic venue, is here and has paved ski trails and a biathlon range for us to train at.

What language do they speak where you are?
Ha,ha...I am still in the US, so thankfully still speaking English. But this week I am with our coach who is Italian and I like to help him with his English. Often English and Italian words are similar. Yesterday I told him I was "impressed" with his English and after hearing this new word he said, "Ah, impressionato " in Italian.
What is the weather like where you are?
COLD! But, I know it is cold at home too so you probably don't feel bad for me. Just east of where I am in Utah, there is a HUGE snowstorm. My family is skiing in Colorado right now - and its still October! It has also been sunny here, which we have all enjoyed very much.

What do you do when you're not training?
This is not very exciting, but this week, when I am not training I am napping:) I am at the end of a challenging training cycling and training quite hard, so I need to sleep a lot in order to stay fresh and energized for each training session.

But, when I am not sleeping I enjoying reading both the books I bring, and the news from the New York Times and NPR online to keep up to date with the world. I also have some good friends in the area that I like to get together with for dinner to share stories and catch up. And, I also enjoy joining my teammates from other parts of the country for dinner and a movie.

Are the people there polite?
Yes - and I find when you are polite, respectful, kind and smile people will also treat you the same way whether it is the person working at the venue or your teammate (or your classmate:) )
How long are you going to be there?
This is my 4th week away from Lake Placid and I am very much looking forward to flying home this Sunday, November 1st.

Are you having fun?
Yep - you bet I am. Utah is a fun place to visit and I've enjoyed when my teammates and I have gotten up into the mountains. But, I have also had fun during interesting, challenging shooting practices that are making me a better shooter.

Have you made any new friends?
Yes, I have met some new people out here - for example, 80 5th graders at the elementary school in the next town over, Park City. So, perhaps I will keep in touch with them this year too. A lot of my teammates live elsewhere in the country (Colorado, Maine, Minnesota) so it was fun to have my friends and teammates around.
What kind of training are you doing?
It is the end of October and my first on-snow race is a little more than a month away. Our training is more specific this time of year to help us prepare for competitions. Even though I am doing a lot of the same things - classic rollerskiing, skate rollerskiing, running, strength training and shooting - the goal now is to be as efficient and fast as I can. This morning my task to accomplish during training was to enter into the shooting range at a faster speed than normal to mimic the speed I would use during a race. Next, how well could I shoot with a higher heart rate? When I training I also visualize some of the race courses and shooting ranges that I will be competing at. When I shoot I pretend that I am in a race so that each and every shot will count.

Are you having trouble speaking all the languages all around the world?
Yes, I can only really get by in Sweden. If you dropped me anywhere else in the world I would be helpless. Let this be a lesson learned - listen to your Spanish and French teachers! You will enjoy knowing a language later on in life.

What if you left your rifle on the plane what would happen and what would you do?
Well, first of all I would try not to freak out and get mad at my self for being forgetful. Second, I would do everything that I could do to find my rifle and fix the problem. If I couldn't figure it out on my own then I would call these nice ladies that I know who work for United Airlines (the airline we fly) and ask them to help me locate my rifle. Last year this happened to me and my rifle was lost over Christmas break and thankfully they found it. Some people can just be so helpful, its awesome.

How much time do you have to relax?
Well, I try to relax a bit every day in order to "recharge my batteries." This is important because I can't be thinking about biathlon and training all of the time. Once I get back from training in the morning I shower and stretch, which is relaxing. After I eat lunch I usually take a nap, or just lie down and read for a little while. After my second training I take some time to stretch again before I get going again for the evening. When I really want to relax my mind and body, I will start a movie:) or at the end of the day call my fiance.
Are you celebrating Halloween this year?
I hope so! I love Reese Peanut Butter cups and trick-or-treating is a great way to get some:)
Is it harder to breathe there?
Sometimes I don't notice this at all, and most people just walking around wouldn't. Not until I start to ski as fast as I can and am really pushing my body do I feel like I am not getting enough air and will be breathing heavily. This is when my body is definitely working harder to take in as much oxygen for my muscles as possible.

When are you coming back?

How are you doing?
Thanks for asking - I am doing quite well actually. I enter into each training camp knowing that I will come out a different athlete because I will have learned more and improved both in skiing and shooting from when I started. I am very happy with how I as a skier and a shooter right now, which makes me very excited to race this winter.

Thanks 4th grade! See you soon!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dear 4th Grade,

Thanks (Danke, Tack, Diky...) for another class visit. I am soon on the road and will keep you posted with stories and photos while I am in Utah.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

split screen

We've got this nifty video system at our range that helps us analyze our shooting. I am shooting prone on the two bottom screens and my teammate Susan is shooting standing on the top two. This system gives a closer look at our shooting techinique and position during a workout, and on this particular day it was a threshold skate technique specific combo interval workout. From this video I wanted to be able to watch my breathing cadence; some of the questions I ask myself as I am watching is - do I stop my breathe and hold/aim on the target long enough before taking the shot, are my breathes quick and controlled enough?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dear 4th Grade,

Thank you very much for letting me join your class on Wednesday. I enjoyed telling you about biathlon, sharing with you what it means to me and even getting advice on the best place to shoot - thanks Erik. Good luck with school work and have fun!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

A quick trip to Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center

I have just returned from a few days in Colorado to attend an International Association of High Performance Training Centers Forum at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center. It was a great opportunity and I’d like to share my experiences:

Why has it been beneficial to live and train at a High Performance Center?

This week I spoke on an Athlete’s Panel for a Q&A session about the effects of high performance training centers on elite athletes. Representatives from training centers around the world, and specifically from Columbia, Ecuador, South Africa, Brazil, Macedonia, and Finland asked about our experiences while training at the centers, how centralized training centers help or hinder both our sports and us as individual athletes, and the pros and cons of living full-time at such centers in the US.

The panel was formed by a Paralympic champion sprinter, 3-time Olympic weightlifter, a US Gymnastics coach, a pairs figure skater and my self - together we represented Summer and Winter Olympic sports and the three US Olympic Training Centers (OTC) in Lake Placid, NY, Colorado Springs, CO and Chuela Vista, CA. We shared a lot of the same perspectives in our answers and agreed that what really makes this experience special and beneficial are the relationships formed with coaches and training center staff. It is through these relationships that information is communicated and progress is able to happen. Once an athlete signs on to this lifestyle, everyone from Sports Medicine to housekeeping staff become a part of your “team.” How you interact and communicate with these people, in addition to your own teammates, roommates and coaching staff can either clear the channels for success, or hinder and squander them. The sprinter commented that it takes a certain athlete to want to live and train in such an environment. It certainly does and I am grateful that I’ve been able to thrive in this environment. This is my third year at the Lake Placid OTC and its staff and resources have helped me rise from a Development Team athlete to a member of the National Team. It has provided a professional environment, both in which to train and to live, that has helped me mature as a person, athlete and team member.

A question asked by a man from Ecuador spurred an answer that I enjoyed sharing the most. He asked, “As athletes, what [advice would we give] to an athlete that is not able to train at a training facility such as the OTC, but has potential for becoming a successful athlete?” I followed behind the weightlifter who offered that the athlete should tap into the passion that his country of Ecuador has for sport, which is something she has experienced first hand as a competitor at their events. I added that yes indeed, training centers have a lot of resources, but this athlete can also look hard for those types of resources within his own community, such as doctors, mentors, sponsors and coaches. Before I was able to train at the OTC I benefited greatly from the myriad of resources that my home communities provided, and find that as I work to reach greater heights in my sport I value those community resources, and my own passion for the sport, just as much as the ones from the Olympic Committee.

Environmental and Social Sustainability in Vancouver

The following talk after the Athlete’s Panel was a representative from VANOC’s (Vancouver Olympic Committee) Sustainability Committee. Her presentation illustrated that VANOC, and in a few years London (2012) and Sochi, Russia (2014), are committed to integrating environmental and social sustainability into their planning and building of the Games, its venues, committees, programs, partners, sponsors, and volunteers.

My teammate Kat painted Vancouver's Games mascots on little pumpkins just after I published this blog yesterday and thought they would be a nice little addition. Thanks Kat!

I’ve competed and trained at the Vancouver Olympic biathlon venue, which is closely adjacent to the Nordic and Ski Jumping venues; collectively the Whistler Olympic Park has the smallest eco-footprint of any Olympic Games Nordic venue. [link to website]. Their high quality, world-class venues are also very friendly, inviting, accessible, enjoyable places to be. Their smart building design is aesthetically pleasing as the buildings and venue structures seem to blend into their surroundings naturally. The ski jumps are built into the ridge and are not noticeable until you ski to the base of the outrun. The simple and refined décor of the lodges are not cumbersome and instead lead the eye to notice the tall spruce and snow outside the window, not to indoor fixtures. The reason for compactly combining these venues in the Callaghan Valley (near Whistler) is that they share the valley with a large Grizzly and Brown bear population. From an environmentally sustainable standpoint, the small layout minimizes the disturbance of the bears both during the Games and in the future of the valley, (even though the road provides at least a few awesome bear sightings in the spring when they come to nibble on the new grass growing along side the access road). And for the same reason, when cutting the trails, the felled trees where then chipped and redistributed throughout the trail system to assist with drainage and leveling the terrain. I need to look into this more, but most of the venues are LEED Silver certified, and is demonstrated in these types of examples. (Click on he link to learn more about LEED certification)

The Committee believes that with planning ahead and planning wisely they can better a place for its people and its environment. Sustainability is most commonly connected to the environmental movement as in the examples cited above, but in Vancouver it is also taking on a social dimension. The same organizers that commissioned the use of pine beetle pine boards to be used in the roof structure of the Richmond Speedskating Oval, also partnered with Canada’s hardware company, RONA, to give Vancouver at-risk young adults carpentry certification and a job to build all of the necessary podiums to be used this winter in both the Olympics and the Paralympics.

Her colorful and engaging digital presentation was inspiring, and I thought at least someone in the Forum would ask a question at the end, but the room was silent. I had a chance to talk to Ann, the presenter, later about this and she made me feel more hopeful in that she understands that what VANOC is doing can be overwhelming and is a lot of information to take in. Ah, I agree and hope too that those who attended were instead asking themselves what their training centers, or companies, towns, and governments are doing to promote environmental and social sustainability?

One of the key elements to educating the public about the values and tangible benefits of be Silver LEED certified is to use Canada’s athletes as spokespeople for the power of sport to lead such change within communities and how we do things. Check out their website and see how you can play a part: I think I am going to check out too and see what I can do.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thanks Rossignol!

Here is an article from a core nordic online resource -

Rossignol Proud Sponsor with US Biathlon Team

Right now my new fleet of skis are headed to the Ski Hall in Oberhof to be skied in and tested by our team's wax tech staff. I will then get to try them out myself in November when the team and staff re-join for the start of the World Cup season.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sweden and Germany camp comes to a close.

Sunset in Sweden.

Like I wrote earlier, I knew I would be very happy to make it through this camp after working very hard to re-tune my shooting and skiing techniques. Some days were tough, some were breakthroughs and others more relaxed, but all carried out the theme of being thrown “off balance” in order to be challenged to regain my poise and gain a better sense, or feel, for the change I needed to make or the new movement I needed to learn. And pretty much everyday was fun. I really enjoyed the different training environments ranging from rollerskiing on far-off roads in the countryside to world class biathlon shooting ranges and rollerski tracks. We’ve eaten the culinary delights of both central Sweden and Bavaria, in between good Italian pizza, and when we had a kitchen I took full advantage of the copious amount of forest blueberries. And gotten to know some local folks like Mats, a exercise scientist at the University in Ostersund who helped us with an interval session one day and getting to know some of our staff’s family over coffee in their living room.

Taking “fika” (coffee time) in downtown Ostersund: L to R me, Per (coach), Lowell, Armin.

Being the only lady, to which I was asked often how I was fairing, I’ve made it just fine because I’ve been in good company. We’ve got a pretty good group of staff and athletes whose multiplicity and commonalities are balanced. Plus with a small group the focus of the camp was more individual coaching experience, for which this set up worked perfectly for all. But, right now I am ready to head back home. I am stoked about some new goals and a few projects to accomplish in this next training block (September 14th-October 4th). I am also really psyched to get back to the eastern autumn – perhaps the nicest season in the Adirondacks.

Jeremy lent me some of these photos from camp – thanks!

Getting ready for a double pole session on a very rainy day. Following at a consistent pace behind the guys was both a good marker for strength and motivation to turn what would be a solo workout into a successful specific strength session on narrow country roads through the farmland, pastures and dark forests of Bavaria [the region that our German staff members are very proud to be from.]

The Guys: Jeremy, Lowell, Tim and Bernd (team manager) after our double pole ski near Bernd’s hometown of Seigsdorf where we lived this week.

Cheimgau Biathlon Arena, Ruhpolding, Germany: Looking south down the valley that the biathlon centered is located within, and up at the “HandelWand” that Bernd pointed out has some excellent ski mountaineering in the winter. This area is gorgeous and I wish I had a camera to show you more. This morning was quite cool at 10C; we could see our breath during zero and it had snowed high in the mountains above. The rocky Alp peaks surrounding us were crystal clear and glimmering in the morning sunshine after the night’s rainstorm washed away the hazy humidity. Oh, and those are the ski jump outruns just beyond the shooting range. Similar to Lake Placid’s McKenzie-Intervale Ski jumping complex, which is combined with our shooting range and rollerski track, aerial jumps and freestyle water ramps.

Our coach, Armin, and I after training at the Ruhpolding biathlon arena. No fans in the stands today, but there is usually a bunch of people checking out the place, watching the athletes (German National Team, us, and a score of kids young and old bombing around on rollerskis and shooting airrifles) and cheering for hits and misses. In the winter this venue will be host to some 30,000 spectators during Ruhpolding's annual World Cup in January.

Ciao! -haley

Monday, August 31, 2009

Time to move on

My two weeks in Sweden has come to a close. I am happily tired and as this lifestyle breeds, I am also looking forward to moving on to a new place. Tomorrow I head to Rupholding, Germany for my final week.
I knew this training camp would be intense, detailed, transformative, challenging and a great opportunity. Each session has lived up to that, and then some. After a spending a lot of super saturated training session at the range and on the World Cup courses with drills and structured focus we ended the week with a relaxing ski and run in the mountains just west of Ostersund, on the Norwegian border.

Below are some views running in the mountain valleys from Storulvån, a classic Scandinavian outpost lodge with rooms, restaurant, saunas, communal kitchen, and lots of space to relax and soak in a good weekend's hike. I am camera-less these days, so these are my teammate Lowell's photos. Running in these wide open valleys and high alpine tundra felt great, well my legs were quite tired, but it was good for the spirits. And seeing some reindeer was a plus.

Board walks covered the wetter, marsh areas, but otherwise you follow some well hiked paths. The hiking trails are intertwined with red-cross marked trails that rise well above the snowpack in the winter to provide guidance for ski touring.

Altogether, this place most typified northern Scandinavia for me.

We have been living in comfortable apartments right next to the rollerski tracks, and lots of blueberries. On off days, when it is time to relax and to get away from biathlon, I took to baking.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Racing and Herring

Phew, I am glad I made it through the first week. As I've mentioned before, I've been spending some extra time with my shooting and I set out for this camp to be a working period. After a full summer of training this is the time to retune my skiing and shooting techniques before I head into a pre-competition phase of training later in the fall. It is quite a transformative time and I will be happy to emerge from it at the end of this camp. Needless to say my races were an important part, not necessarily to race, but to work on an improved shooting process at a high intensity . I would have liked to have done well here, as I did last year, but this time my focus and goals were different. And after a thorough analysis of the races I closed the week and moved on to the next.

After the races were over our team was pleasantly suprised; expecting to take a "boat ride" on the Storsjön, we instead got to take jet skis out to an island and Swedish castle. It couldn't have been a better evening to be out on the lake: the sunset was big, wide, and spectacular and the lake was (uncharacteristically) calm and quiet. Once out to the island we were greeted by the folks who run a small hotel in an old 1800's swedish castle. After a tour of the Swedish countryside and lake, we returned back to the city and to a traditional Swedish smörgåsbord dinner. It was quite the spread of different types of herring, sauces, and meats that you pile on top of your boiled potato. Smothered in mustard sauce, I could actually eat the herring.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Every Second Counts: typical slowfire shooting session

This morning I spent some time on the range doing 1-shot prone drills.

Taking only one shot at a time narrows the focus to just the set up process (getting into position), my breathing to the first shot (kind of like yoga, you have to breathe with every movement) and the 1st shot (a combination of breathing, a short hold on the target just before the shot, and the subtle pull of the trigger and the hit of the target). Per kept time throughout each shot giving me by-the-second updates throughout each shot of the process with the goal of reaching the optimal speed in all parts. This doesn't necessarily mean the quickest speed, but rather moving in the most efficient way. Getting into position is relatively quick - 10 seconds or so - and the time to the next shot can take almost half or the same amount of time depending on how hard I was just skiing beforehand and how well I can control my breathing. Fast forward to racing this winter - save 4 seconds per stage in a Sprint (prone and standing) that amounts to 8 free seconds. This does not seem like a lot, but the women's field is competitive and 1st to 60th is often only different by a few minutes. Every second counts.

On any given day there are three ways of shooting: dryfire (without live rounds, usually done at the OTC gym in the morning, with the purpose of working on the process of shooting and visualization) slowfire (shooting at the range without a heart rate, a wide variety of drills that accentuate different parts of shooting and enable a shooter to focus on and improve speed, accuracy, position and precision) and combo (done either running, but mostly skiing with low to high heart rate). Tomorrow - an easy combo workout before this weekend's races.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Tjenar" from Sweden!

I just got back from picking blueberries; they are right out our door and the forest is filled with them. Tomorrow is our day off and pancakes (American style) are for breakfast.

It is great to be back in Sweden, and not just because of the blueberries. We've been here since Saturday and have put in a few days of solid training on Ostersund's rollerski loop and biathlon range. This is the same venue that I have, and will, race at later in December at the start of this winter's World Cup season. Thus, familiarity with the hills and range is a plus. And there is no better way to really learn about a venue than to race on it. This coming weekend is full of it with a cross-country race Friday evening, a Sprint on Saturday and a Pursuit on Sunday. In addition to our team, there will also be the Swedish National Team, a junior Norwegian squad, and some local athletes.

Its also great to be back at a camp with the rest of our team and coaching staff. We're a small group this time; an environment which will lend itself to a lot of individual coaching. This is quite an advantageous opportunity, and one in which I have been looking forward to because I have had a difficult summer of shooting. In the grander scheme of shooting, I have learned a lot in the past two years, so am patient with these ups and downs in shooting performance. But lately, I've been at a loss for how to figure out what is wrong with my shooting. Until, I got to Sweden. Each shooting session so far has been super saturated with advice, ideas, suggestions, ways of doing a number of things better, more efficient, quicker and new drills that have helped me to evolve out of the rut I was in. I am not there yet, but finally have, and feel, the moments of brilliance in shooting that give the confidence, affirm your process and urge you to continue.

Our training schedule is rather normal, even with the transatlantic flight this weekend. Monday started with shooting drills and technique specific combo session, followed that afternoon with a run and then SCATT (laser shooting computer program). We are living in small apartments, Camp Sodergren, right at the venue. It takes just a few minutes to roll down to the range in the morning, and only moments after the training ends you can get in a snack, shower and stretch. This is the first big international camp of the year so it is also good to get back into the routine of traveling, being in a foreign country, and at a training camp. Not to mention, remembering the key items that keep one sane on long trips like enough books and projects. I brought a long some baking supplies this time and thanks to my friend Jen some good muffin recipes too.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Can you recycle #5 plastics? YES!

Earlier this summer when I was looking into my new sponsor, Mix1, I also spent the time figuring out what I would then do with all of the empty bottles. The bottles, cloudy white in color, are your typical #5 plastic, or polypropylene. Unfortunately, in my area, we don't recycle this type of plastic. Until I found Cortland, NY's Preserve Products company and their Gimme 5 program. They collect #5 plastic and recycle it into new and nifty products like razors, toothbrushes and kitchen utensils.

#5 plastic is a common material - think yogurt cups and cottage cheese containers - and it is often chosen over #1 or 2 because it is light-weight and costs less to manufacture and transport. However, it is not easier to recycle, especially in a rural area like the Adirondacks. The Gimme 5 Program offers a way for consumers to recycle their #5's either by dropping them off at a participating Whole Foods or mailing them into the company - like I plan to do.

My efforts to revamp the Olympic Training Center's (OTC) approach to recycling paralleled my sponsorship work this summer and through Mix1 I was able to combine my efforts. I've teamed up with our Sports Med to provide a place for our athletes to recycle their recovery drink bottles, instead of letting them fill up our trash. It is in its beginning stages, but I am optimistic that it will be successful.

We all use a variety of sports drinks, recovery drinks, and bar products; double check which number the are. #1, 2 and 5 plastics spend an estimated 450 years in the landfill. In a much shorter time, I will turn my tangerine flavored Mix 1 drink bottles into a new usable product.

Take a minute to think about how you recycle and consider this new option. It may take some time to change our habits, but know you have the choice to take more responsibility for where your "stuff" goes.

*This company even takes Brita filters!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Send someone a card . . .

I just dropped off a new batch of Snowfall Cards at the Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid. Check them out if you are in town...

Monday, July 27, 2009

New Sponsor - Mix1

This summer I connected with Greg and Mix1 from Boulder [ ] while I was looking for more diversity in my training nutrition and post-training snacks.

One of the most important things I've learned as an athlete is to fuel right at the right times. When I finish a set of skate intervals or a long distance run, for example, I want to help my body start its recovery process as soon as it can. If I do this well I feel better, am ready to go for the day's next training session, and am helping prevent injury and fatigue. For example, when I have cereal and soy milk after training I am benefiting from the carbohydrates that help restore my muscle glycogen stores and the protein that helps repair and build my muscles. The combination of these two and a lot of water help replenish my energy stores, re-hyrdate, and re-build so that I can come back stronger. But, I got in the rut of eating the same cereal and the same soy milk each time, and it was time to find something new to mix it up.

Video taken during a threshold combo session at our new range at the Mckenzie-Intervale Ski Jumping and Aerial Complex in Lake Placid. As I head up "flag pole hill" towards the upper range I pass by the freestylist warming up on the tramps before practicing their jumps at the pole. It is pretty unique and neat to have this multi-purpose training facility up and running. Some of our country's best skiers are training here, like Ryan St. Onge, aerialist, Hannah Kearny, freestyle mogul skier, and scores of other young skiers, jumpers and biathletes.

Last week I put Mix1 to the test with my biggest training week of the year (and of my life actually) and it was perfect! I am happy to have something that works well for me, is convenient, tastes really good (not like other chalky protein drinks) and comes from one of my favorite (and birth) states - Colorado. Created from pretty simple ingredients like olive oil, whye protein and cane juice, for this is an easy option. And since I have a tendency to make things more complicated than necessary, finding this simplicity was key.

Mix1 covers post-training nutrition, but for fuel during training I've experimented with a few options other than the standard power bar that keep me satiated and satisfied. Below is a recipe for a rice-krispy-like bar that offers both immediate and sustained energy with the combination of honey, currants and marshmallow. And the puffed kashi and rice are simple carbohydrates that are easy to digest and provide the needed carbohydrates for energy.

Lemon and Honey Bars (basically glorified Rice Krispy Treats)
10 oz marshmallows
3 Tbls honey
2 Tbls butter
1 Tsp Lemon extract
6 cups Kashi puffed rice (or Rice Krispies)
Desired amount of currants and almonds

Combine and melt marshmallows, honey, and butter. (I use a double boiler, but a regular saucepan will work too.) Mix with dry ingredients and spread out in a 9x13" cake pan. Let cool over night, then cut into desired square sizes. Keep in a tupperware container in the freezer or fridge and enjoy when needed. At first I individually wrapped some, but realized it was just a waste of plastic and that in this summer's muggy heat they became quite soft. So - keep your stock in the fridge.

Lake Placid hosted the Ironman last week, and one of my favorite reasons why I like it here in Placid is that one my other sponsors, Cassidy and Trigger Point Technologies [ ]is a part of it. He and his company are from Austin, TX - a place I probably won't make it to with biathlon. So, when he is here working the Ironman Expo I get a chance to catch up, chat, check out new products or give feedback. Also on the topic of recovery, I use his massage rollers and balls to work out kinks, help massage my legs or any sore points that need attention or just plain get the circulation going before training.

I am just finishing up the third and final week of this training block, with one more interval session to go. (Maeve - I'm on Scheafer Hill tomorrow!) On Monday I head into a low training week that ends with competitions in Jericho, VT. The following week I head to Ostersund, Sweden and Ruhpolding, Germany for this year's third National Team Camp.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Team USA" articles to check out

The stories of myself and my teammates, Laura Spector, Lanny and Tracy Barnes helped a northeastern journalist write an article about the US Women's team, our relay team and biathlon in the US:

The same journalist also really enjoyed my cards, so check out this article about my Snowfall Cards and what other athletes do besides being athletes, like fellow teammate, Lowell Bailey who is also an accomplished musician:

To see more of my cards, thanks to Kara, check out or stop in at the Bookstore Plus on Main Street in Lake Placid.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Little interview with my teammates and I while training in Fort Kent

Thanks for the interview, Rainey!

Hurricane Hill

The US women's teams during a race pace interval session in Keene, NY during our training camp together. One of the Lake Placid coaches and the Development team coach, James, took video all through out this training session. He then e-mails short clips to each athlete and coach for us to get a second look at technique during a hard intensity workout.

Women's National Team Camp

I am in the last few days of this summer's National Team Camp. After a few more shooting workouts, a long bike ride, intervals and strength these next few days, I will surely be looking forward to a few days of R&R. It has been another successful training block, however, but this time with different goals and accomplishments than that of my first camp earlier in May. The first two weeks of camp I was together with whole women's team whose members ranged from Development to A-team. In my history with USBA, this is the first women's team specific camp. In part due to our asking, but also because we now have a solid group of lady biathletes who can together push each other and women's biathlon to new historic levels of participation and international results.

Laura S. and I at the end of classic ski on Slide Brook Rd. in Soldier Pond, ME. A bunch of us jumped off this bridge into the river moments later for a refreshing swim after a long ski.

Training sessions were designed to maximize our time together; intervals like the one pictured below and lining up on the shooting range for timed shooting drills and tests created a necessary atmosphere that is hard to replicate with a small group or by one's self. Skiing in a close group on matched rollerskis on a long ascent really brought out morsels of strategy, fight and perservence that come from having our competition just behind or just in front of you. Shooting together simaltaneously tested our abilities to maintain the internal focus of our own shooting process as well as being aware of the speed and precision of competitors around us. Kind words of advice earlier in the week reminded us that the roots of 'compete' involve coming together - so thats what we've done. We know that in order for our women's group to progress we need to improve our ability to handle race-like situations with close competiveness, fast accurate shooting, and strategic technical transitions (in skiing). And as we look towards improving our women's relay team, we also come together to think like a team, even in situations like when we make dinner together, make travel plans, or pack the van.

The womens team (and some neighborhood dogs) during one of eight 4 minute Level 4 intervals up Hurricane Hill in Keene, NY.

The second week of camp brought us to Fort Kent, ME and the Maine Winter Sports Center/10th Mtn. Division biathlon venue. Workouts alternated between skiing at the venue, and running, biking and skiing around the County.

I spent 4 years living and training with the MWSC and in Fort Kent. It was a perfect place for me to develop as a biathlete and as an active community member, and it is where I met some of my greatest mentors and life-long friends. Also, it is where I started making my cards. Below are some of my favorites inspired by the landscape of northern Maine:

A view of the birches beyond the stadium from the 10th Mtn. Lodge.

A common view of rolling fields of gold, deep blue skies and puffy cumulus clouds. This reminds me of the Perley Brook roads.
I spent a lot of time driving in the County from all the various towns and training spots. Often, I'd be headed home just after dusk.

Or, I would be out early while the fog was still lingering in the St. John River Valley. When the 9 am rising sun burned it off, mornings were glorious.

This final week of camp I will finish up back in Lake Placid where I am working with my coaches Per and Armin. We've been diligently working on my shooting position and process and will take some time tomorrow to check out ski technique and reasses for the next round of technique ideas. Per, Armin and I converse through e-mail and skype in between camps, so it is a treat to work with both of them here on home turf this week. They are a great combo and after talking to them about the goals that I want to accomplish this year the Swede answers to believe in the progress I have made and the Italian appropriately answered to remember to have passion. Ha - great answers.