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.