European Races - Cheresa Bouley

European Races - Cheresa Bouley

Happy New Year!

I am excited to start the second trimester of racing in which I will race in Italy, Slovakia, and Germany. My first trimester went well!


We started the season with an on-snow camp in Vuokatti, Finland. I liked Finland, but the lack of sunlight everyday made me feel tired. While there, the coaches helped me with my technique and shooting. We did a team time trial, and this trial was the first time I cleaned at a race-level effort. This greatly boosted my confidence in my shooting. It was an exhausting camp with a lot of training, but it was well worth it!


Our first races were at Kontiolahti, Finland. The first impression of the terrain was quite deceiving, but once we got onto the course, I realized that it was very hilly. There was this one hill called The Wall that was roughly a 20% grade! Our first race was an individual in which I shot 1002, with a total of 3 misses. I placed 49th, which was a good way to start the season! I was 59th in the first sprint and our relay was 18th. This was a fun way to kick off my career!



Our next races were at Idre Fjaell, Sweden. I liked Sweden more than Finland because I got to see the sun a little more! My shooting went well in the first sprint race (0,2) and I took 65th place. The next day, we did the same sprint race; however, the conditions were much more difficult. It was very windy, which makes shooting challenging! I shot 2,2 and placed 61st, just missing the pursuit by 3 seconds. However, with being sick this week, I was grateful for the recovery! Again, I had a lot of fun at this racing circuit!



The last races of the trimester took place in Sjusjoen, Norway. This was my favorite venue of the three. The course was hilly and beautiful. The range had 41 points (rather than the standard 30)! The first race that we did was a sprint in which I shot 3,1. My prone felt good; however, I missed 3 shots. Sometimes that happens; maybe I had a bad zero, but I am not sure. I finished 70th in the race, which means that I did not make the pursuit, and theoretically did not make the mass start 60. So, I was not really anticipating racing on the last day.



A couple of days before the last race, we had the opportunity to do some sightseeing in Lillehammer. It was a fascinating little town with some cool ski shops, clothing shops, restaurants, and grocery stores. This was a great opportunity to do some Christmas shopping!


The next day, I was looking forward to doing one final ski in Norway. I went to breakfast and treated it like a normal day, as the likelihood of me racing was quite low (they only take 60 for the mass start). After breakfast, I went back to our cabin and checked the start list, just for the heck of it, and to my shock, my name was on it! And, not only was my name on it, but so were both of my other teammates! Immediately, I called my teammate who I was going to ski with and told her that we were racing. She was just as shocked as I was!


So, right then and there, I got dressed into my uniform and made my way to the range to zero. Apparently, several teams went home, so they filled in whoever was left. However, the situation only got crazier. The targets were barely visible. There was a thick fog that engulfed the targets, and the coaches struggled to zero their athletes. During paper change, our coach went down to the targets confirm our shooting, as he could barely see through his scope.




The race was interesting. Somehow, there were some people who were hitting targets. I hit a few, starting with 2,2,2; however, it took a lot of time to hit them. I had to check the target after I shot because I wasn’t sure how many I hit. Looking through the sights was an absolute blur! However, those who were cleaning were lapping people like crazy. If a person gets lapped in a mass start, they get pulled out of the race. This is equivalent to a DNF. I was almost one of them. On my fourth lap, I had to ski this lap like it was my last lap! The leader was right behind me, and I knew from the start of the lap that I would need to go! I made it to the range right as she turned into the finish, but I was in the clear. I came in to shoot, couldn’t see anything through my sight, and missed four targets. However, at this point, it didn’t matter. I would finish the race regardless. I focused on technique on the last lap. I was our only American finisher of the day in 53rd place. And right after, we packed up and left to go home. It was a crazy day!



Overall, I came away with some fantastic experiences from all these places. I am extremely blessed and grateful for these opportunities. I must thank God and all of those who have helped make this possible!