Maddie Phaneuf: The Return!

Photo courtesy of Maddie Phaneuf.

This season I am revisiting some of the biathletes I have interviewed in the past to see what has changed for them. The first ever interview on this blog was with US biathlete Maddie Phaneuf so she was the obvious choice to start with!!! 🙂

Follow Maddie on Instagram.
Check out her website: https://www.maddiephaneuf.com/

We last spoke nearly 5 years ago!! What has changed for you since then?

So much has changed! I think I may have still been living in Maine the last time we spoke, or had just recently moved to Lake Placid. Either way, since then I’ve mostly been training full time for biathlon, I took a mini break this past season (from August – March) and lived in Boulder, Colorado during that time and didn’t focus on training. Then this March I moved back to New York State and have been training again full time for biathlon. I’m back in Lake Placid, living on my own and training with the local ski club, NYSEF.

You have recently opened up about having PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) caused by the Olympics. What happened and why did you decide to about it publicly?

Basically I got really sick during the Olympics right when I was told I would finally be racing. I was beating myself up about it for months following the Olympics, and chose to go to therapy to get better. I decided to speak up about it because I know a lot of fellow athletes struggle with mental health issues, but not a lot of people actually talk about it publicly. I hope that speaking out gives others the courage to seek help.

How have you been dealing with it?

Mostly therapy. Also realizing what I need in my everyday life to keep a good balance between sport and life. For me that looks like having my own space (a house) where there’s no sign of professional sport, and I can mentally check out from training. I also have a lot of friends who aren’t teammates. Overall, just having a good balance between training and everyday life.

What advice would you give to other athletes who might have similar issues?

The biggest advice would be: You’re not weak if you ask for help. Honestly, I should’ve been going to therapy since high school, it just took me until my absolute breaking point to finally seek help. Also, know that it’s not your fault if you feel depressed/anxiety/any other mental health issue – mental health is an illness.

The US women’s team was fantastic last season. Does that inspire you to get back out training and racing to be part of it?

DEFINITELY!! I watched every race this winter when I was away from the sport, and I missed racing so much. Watching them crush it at World Championships, and leading the Women’s Relay for 3/4 of the race was so inspiring. I was so happy and proud of my teammates this season, and I’m very excited to be back on the training grind and can’t wait to race alongside them in the coming seasons.

What are your plans for summer training?

So I’m back in Lake Placid, NY training full-time with NYSEF. I’ve been training since the last week of April, and have been having a lot of fun and have been feeling great so far! I’ll be doing a lot of rollerskiing, shooting, trail running, strength training, mountain biking, and everything in between! I’ll be traveling down to North Carolina for a week in August to spend time with my family for vacation, which I’m very excited about because there are beautiful beaches down there! But yeah, nothing too crazy for me this summer, just training in New York.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think strengths would be shooting well under pressure, fast shooting speed, and being able to move past bad races. My weaknesses are usually slower ski speed, balance, and wanting to go mountain biking or rock climbing during my rest days!

What are your goals for this season?

To have fun and be happy. Also to race internationally on the IBU Cup and World Cup. I’d love to see myself racing at World Championships this winter, but I have no expectations for my first season back since taking last winter off 😉

Is Canmore still your favourite track and Franziska Hildebrand your favourite biathlete?

I still love Canmore, but I think Antholz may be my current favorite. My favorite biathlete to watch race is Hanna Oberg because she’s so strong on the range.

Does your rifle have a name yet?

Haha not yet! I need suggestions…

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Canada
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Marketa Davidova’s unicorn rifle!!
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway’s always looks classy
Favourite shooting range: Martell, ITA
Lucky bib number: I don’t have one!
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Sarah Beaudry
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Regina Oja – she gave me her clothes when my luggage didn’t arrive in Estonia!
Best thing about being a biathlete: Traveling the world and meeting new people from other countries.

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