THANK YOU FINN SISU for your support in my pursuit in biathlon! I am very blessed to have you supply me with ski gear and enthusiasm for this past season and my upcoming one.
This past summer of training has been good, although did not go as planned. Sometimes, though, that makes the journey more fun and challenging. Every plan I had did not work out, so I ended up training from home. However, that opened opportunities. I was able to spend more time with my biathlon coach, Bill Meyer, which was good. He has so much experience, knowledge, and is very passionate about what he does as a coach. I also spent time training with Caitlin Gregg; she helped me a lot with my technique this summer, which was fantastic! My brother, Joel, just began biathlon, so I was able to train with him as well!
At the beginning of this summer, I was fortunate to get in some altitude training with a couple of my brothers (including Joel) and uncle. We went to Glacier Mountain national park and hiked a lot. Over the course of five days, we hiked/ran 65 miles, camped, and explored. It was a lot of fun, and the views were incredible!
The first week of August, I was grateful to have the opportunity to compete in the summer roller ski biathlon nationals in Jericho, Vermont. It was good training!
The races did not go as I hoped, but I gained valuable experience from both races!
The first race was a 7.5 KM sprint. I wasn’t feeling it on the skis and the shooting was alright. Usually, when I have a race where I am not satisfied, I take that frustration and channel it into a hungry drive for the next race. That’s what I did for the 12.5 KM mass start.
I went out with the lead pack, and I was feeling pretty good. However, in the first shooting, I went to the wrong mat, then got up, and went to the correct mat. Thankfully, I cleaned and left the range in a good position but lost some time. All my shots were to the far left, though. When I came in for the second shooting, I missed four shots, most of which were to the left. That means, from zero to the race, I changed something with my position or did something to change my zero. I skied my four penalties, though, and then came in for my first standing. I thought I missed three, but only missed two. The last target went down slowly, and I didn’t see it, so I skied three penalties instead of two! I finished off my last shooting with one miss and skied the last lap strong.
It did not go as I hoped, but it’s always good to have those experiences! Now I know to double-check my target before I leave the range and to ensure that I know what mat I must go to before the race begins! It’s better to learn those lessons in the summer than at trials races.
I was the 5th American in the sprint race and the 6th American in the mass start.
At the beginning of September, I was invited to an IBU cup development camp with the Craftsbury biathlon team.
This was great practice! We did L4 single-mixed relays with a partner, L3 combos with the ski team, speed shooting, and so much more!
One of the shooting practices that stood out to me was when we got to teach our partner how we shoot. It was interesting to see how everyone shoots a little differently and gave me some ideas to experiment with for my own shooting.
This camp was a fantastic opportunity to do head-to-head shooting against top-biathletes. The goal is to shoot as quickly but as accurately as possible. I’ve noticed that I cannot worry about how other people around me are shooting. It doesn’t matter how they are shooting. It matters how I am shooting. However, when shooting with faster shooters, I naturally and subconsciously speed up my own shooting without sacrificing accuracy. It’s fascinating.
One other interesting drill that we did was shooting with a partner, but where my partner pulled my trigger for me. I explained my shooting and breathing pattern to my partner before we began. Then, based off my breathing, he pulled the trigger for me. I hit most targets. This drill taught me that I can be confident and don’t need to over analyze my sight picture. My brain knows when the sight picture is good based off my breathing pattern. Super interesting!
Although most of the camp went quite well, my old friend adversity paid me a visit. On our OD classic ski/hike, I had an incident. We were approaching a “long” downhill, and our coach offered us a ride down the hill. Now, I hadn’t been on classic roller skis much all summer and my wheels were uneven and difficult to control, but guess what? I thought the hill did not look so bad and everyone else skied down it. In all honesty, I did not want to be a wimp and chicken out about it, so I turned down the offer and went down. It was not so bad! Well, it wasn’t so bad until we went around a turn and the hill got much longer and much steeper.
Then I started praying to God because I could not control my skis, and I was going fast! There was a turn at the bottom of the hill! As my wheels squirreled everywhere, I lost balance, fell backwards, and found myself sliding down the hill on the pavement. My watch clocked my top speed at 40 mph down that hill. I was super thankful I crashed the way I did; I ended up with some nasty road rash, but it could have been much, much worse.
It was painful to deal with for the rest of the camp, but I still participated in the training. Once I got going, it loosened up. I finished the last day with a very fun, single track shoot-out biathlon race. First, the training group and I assisted the novice shooters and gave a shooting demonstration (super good opportunity to shoot under pressure!). Then, I did the race on these really fun mountain biking trails. My shooting was good, and I was the first experienced biathlete. It was prone, prone, standing, standing.
Overall, it was a very fun camp. It was good to meet the Craftsbury team and other biathletes. I thank them for all the tips they gave me, and I especially must thank the coaches Mike and Ethan for all their help.
In conclusion, my training has been going well with lots of learning opportunities. I am very blessed for all the opportunities God has given me. I look forward to the trials races at Soldier Hollow, Utah, which will take place in mid-October.
THANK YOU FINN SISU!