Joanne Reid: The Interview!

Joanne Reid is an American biathlete who was born in Madison, Wisconsin on the 28th June 1992. Last season she achieved her career best result finishing 10th in the Mass Start in Oestersund and finished 49th on the Overall World Cup. She started biathlon in 2015 and represented the USA at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018. She is the third Olympian in her family following her mother and uncle who were speed skaters. At university she studied applied mathematics and engineering.

Follow Joanne on Instagram for comedy ramblings and maths!

Why did you become a biathlete?

My grandfather was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s (dementia) and as such his biathlon rifle passed to me, the only competitive nordic skier in the family. I had the means then, and the ability to do the skiing part, though I had never fired a rifle before. They told me I wouldn’t have any bad shooting habits, however, so I wouldn’t have to unlearn, just learn. I actually used his rifle my first season on the World Cup.

Your career best result came in Oestersund last season when you finished 10th in the mass start. What do you remember about that race?

Susan screaming her face off at me to hurry the heck up, and running next to me up the hill, because I left the range in 12th. I hurried the heck up. Something about that has stuck with me the most, because it’s a beautiful part of Susan’s soul that she is just as genuinely excited for her teammate’s accomplishments as her own, and she wanted that result for me as badly as I did.

As a funny side note, the targets in Sweden were so slow to fall that I thought I had missed three the second prone, and looked up at the end to see only one miss. (My shooting in the race was 1-1-1-1).


All the US women had a great season last year. What do you think made the difference for all of you?

You know how at pools there are sometimes competitions for biggest splash, usually for kids? Well, our new coach Armin Auchentaller made the biggest splash in our team’s history. In fact, it’s about the splash equivalent of dropping a killer whale into a pool.

What have you been doing for summer training and what is the plan up until winter?

This is a really interesting question, doesn’t everyone give the same answer to this always? Rollerski. Shoot. Repeat. Rollerski. Shoot. Sleep. After about eight months, do an aggressive snow dance and some serious wishful thinking.

Since we are on a two week on, two week off travel schedule and I live very far from anything, and anyone, I have a high airline premier status, so that’s really what I might declare my season goal.

What are your other goals for this season? 😉

Goals are just hopes you’re demanding from yourself to feel a sense of completeness. I am complete without such a thing. (But I do not look negatively upon people who set goals). I hope our relay team puts it all together, because I know we can. Whatever that result is, it doesn’t matter as much as the performance. I want to race in joy with my star-clad girls in solidarity. Who wouldn’t?

You are Joanne Firesteel Reid. Where does the “firesteel” come from? Is it a family name or did your parents think it would make you tough?! 😉

The Firesteel River is a river that cuts through the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, which is where I spent my early childhood. As to whether or not I’m tough, I’ll leave it to the reader to decide.

You have a cool rifle design. Where did the idea come from for that?

My mother designed and did the entire thing, with some input from me. She sanded, burned, and re-varnished the entire stock. She and my dad also built all the carbon fiber pieces, which are based off of the original French parts, but a little stronger, lighter, and more fitted to my tiny little hands.

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

Soldier Hollow, of course! I saw that venue grow from ten years of ignored infancy into World Cup level. They poured so much work and time and man-hours into that course and that week that I can’t help but love it. With its high speed downhills and sweeping turns with beautiful mountain views, what’s not to love?

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

Susan Dunklee, because she carved the way for us all. She changed the way that USBA viewed its female biathletes, and created a foundation of belief. No matter what she does in the rest of her career and the rest of her life, she has already done something for us all that has made a difference.

Does your rifle have a name?

My rifle is named Tunkasila (pronounced duen-kah-shee-lah), which is woodburned into the back (it gets covered with the Viessmann sticker in the winter), which means Grandfather In Lakota, a tribute to my grandfather who got me into the sport. He passed just after the Winter Olympics in March of 2018 from Alzheimer’s.

The lady burned into the stock is the Lady Fortune, so sometimes people refer to it by that name instead.

Describe yourself in three words.

Sarcastic, introverted, snarky.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Canada
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Quentin! What a well-designed stock that clearly took hours and hours of thought, design, iterations, and creation. I admire that immensely.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): I find the new Kazakh suits are really geometrical in an artistically abstract way, and very pleasing to my brain. (Hello, math brain).
Favourite shooting range: Antholz, I like a hard range approach at altitude! Yes please! To that effect, I also enjoy that massive climb in Finland (Kontiolahti) that is pretty close to the range. I think Finland may have been the first World Cup I ever cleaned.
Lucky bib number: Anything in the set of Natural numbers is fine by me.
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Anais Bescond
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Megan Bankes
Best thing about being a biathlete: Eating mountains and mountains of food and still being hungry. Sometimes this is also the worst thing.

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