Tag Archives: us biathlon

Susan Dunklee: The Interview!

Susan Dunklee is an American biathlete who was born on the 13th of February 1986. She enjoyed her best season to date in 2016/17. She finished 10th in the Total Score and more importantly won her first World Championship medal taking silver in the Mass Start in Hochfilzen. She is the first American women to win a medal at a major Championships and in doing so qualified to race for the US at the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang this March. Her father Stan and her uncle Everett have both competed for America at the Olympics in cross country skiing.

Follow Susan on Twitter: @SusanDunklee
Like her Facebook page: Susan Dunklee
Check out her blog: https://susandunklee.wordpress.com/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I didn’t want to give up ski racing after college. USBA offered a better training and living situation than any US xc ski club at the time, so I figured why not learn how to shoot?

The Mass Start in Hochfilzen. Talk us through your silver medal winning race and your emotions at the end.

I felt inspired after watching Lowell’s Individual. I remember thinking that I had got my first ever WC podium in 2014 the week after he got his first podium.
Despite that, I didn’t feel particularly good going into the race. By the end of the Championships you have raced so much that both your body and head feel fried. I had to remind myself that everyone else was exhausted too and that there is opportunity in that.
Much of that race felt surreal. Leading was an experience that I’m not very familiar with. I didn’t intend to lead because it’s usually not a smart tactical decision and it is harder to ski fast and efficiently by yourself. However, after every shooting stage I found myself alone out front. It seemed silly to just pull over for 5 seconds and let the pack catch up. So I skied my own pace, tried to stay relaxed and didn’t worry about what the pack did.
People ask me if the last shooting stage felt any different. In this case, no, it was more of a deja vu feeling. It felt just like the 3 stages before it. I remember thinking after the last shooting stage that now it was time to “get the hell out of there” because I knew some fast people would be chasing my tail. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough gas left in the tank to challenge Laura [Dahlmeier] when she caught me, but I was so psyched to hold onto second. It truly was a perfect race for me.

Apart from your medal you were also 10th in the Total Score. What was the key to your great season?

Shooting speed had been my biggest focus during training for a couple years and that work started to pay off last winter.

You had some good results at the World Cup round in PyeongChang. Has that given you a lot of confidence for the Olympics? Do you like the tracks and range there?

It doesn’t matter if I like them or not. What matters is if I’m willing to make those tracks and that range “my own” so that I will feel strong and confident there.

What are your goals for next season for the World Cup as well as the Olympics?

To keep my focus on “performing well.” If I can do that, the results will take care of themselves.

Team USA is a really close team. What was it like watching Lowell win his gold medal at the World Champs?

Lowell put together an impressive performance which personified a tremendous effort on the part a whole host of people. For an achievement like that you need everything to go right such as ski fitness, shooting performance, and ski preparation. There are so many people who contributed to making that possible- coaches, teammates, ski techs, physios, managers, psychologists, sponsors, supportive friends and family back home…. Everyone in the USBA community felt some ownership of America’s first gold medal moment and that’s one of the reasons why I think the US Team is special.

Have you noticed any changes in the popularity of biathlon in the US after your recent success? Has it helped you with funding and sponsors?

Not as much as we had expected.

What have you been doing for summer training?

Same routine as usual- roller skiing, shooting, running, biking, lifting, etc. We did an on-snow camp in May in Bend, Oregon as well as a three week camp in Germany in September.

One of your hobbies is bee keeping. How did you get into that and why do you like it?

I already was interested in pollination systems after studying them in college. A few years ago I visited one of my ecologist friends who kept honey bees and I watched a barefoot “bee-whisperer” capture an escaped swarm. I was fascinated. Working with bees is a lot like shooting in a high pressure race situation. The consequences of making mistakes are high and you must conquer your fears and stay calm.

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

Nove Mesto has the best atmosphere with the biggest, friendliest crowds of spectators. I love racing there.

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

Michal Slesingr, Martin Fourcade and Lowell Bailey. They are phenomenal athletes and leaders who insist on fighting for the integrity of our sport.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Sincere, hardworking, contemplative.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin’s dragon
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rösch. Honorable mention: Stefani Popova
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Toss up: Johanna Taliharm, Anais Bescond, and Katja Yurlova.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Recovery massages.

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Clare Egan: The Interview!

Clare Egan is an American biathlete from Cape Elizabeth in Maine. She was born on the 19th of November 1987. She is part of the US Women’s Relay Team and has taken part in two World Championships. She had three Top 40 points finishes last season and achieved her personal best so far of 16th. This meant that she came 67th in the Total Score at the end of the season an improvement of 29 places from season 2014/15.

Like her Facebook Page: Clare Egan Biathlete
Read her blog: http://lclareegan.blogspot.co.uk

How did you discover biathlon and why did you want to become a biathlete?

When I was 25, I was a slightly bored cross-country skier, questioning whether to continue with the sport. It was perfect timing when US Biathlon’s regional development coach, Algis Shalna, asked if I wanted to learn how to shoot. He is a former Lithuanian biathlete who was part of a gold medal-winning relay team for the Soviet Union. I took him up on his offer because I was inspired by the success of biathletes Hannah Dreissigacker and Susan Dunklee, who, like me, started shooting after university and trained in Craftsbury, Vermont with the Green Racing Project ski team. I had a great experience working with Algis and learning the skills of shooting, so it was a good fit.

You had a really good season last year getting your personal best result of 16th in the Oestersund Sprint. Can you describe that race?

I went into that race with only one goal: to shoot well. I took my time making 10 good shots, and the downhill range approach helped me make that happen. I just wanted to make the pursuit but it was a nice surprise to clean a World Cup race for the first time and get my first top-20.

You also got two great results at your home race in Presque Isle. What was it like competing at home? Did you feel the pressure or did you enjoy it?

I had two great races in Presque-Isle, finishing 32nd in the sprint and then 23rd in the pursuit. I did not feel more pressure than usual, because biathlon is not well known in the US. But I am glad I had the experience of doing a biathlon World Cup in my home country and home state. Even though Presque-Isle is a 6-hour drive from where I grew up, there were some familiar faces in the crowd. My whole team did great that weekend, including Susan’s 2nd place in the sprint, and we were very proud.

Annalise Cook and Hannah Dreissigacker have both retired. How do you think the women’s team will cope with losing two great biathletes?

I really miss Annelies and Hannah even more than I thought I would. It is a very different team environment without those two! They lived and trained in Lake Placid, where our national team is based and where I live. Now that they are not here, I am one of the senior members of the team so I am learning how to be in that role. I miss them not only at training but also outside of training because they are great friends. Now, Susan and I are joined on the national team by two talented biathletes, Maddie Phaneuf and Joanne Reid, both of whom have already raced World Cups, so I have no doubt that our team will continue to move forward and improve, following in the footsteps of Hannah and Annelies.

What did you learn about yourself last season? Are you working on anything specific that you want to improve for the coming season?

I put a lot of pressure on myself, so I am working on staying relaxed and focussing on the positive aspects of each performance. In terms of specific biathlon skills I am working on my standing shooting and physical strength.

What are your goals for this season?

I want to consistently make the pursuits and score World Cup points. I would also like to qualify for a mass start!


Who has been the biggest inspiration or supporter of your biathlon career and why?

I think Algis Shalna, my first biathlon coach, is the person most responsible for where I am now. I learned so much from him even though we only worked together for one year. I wrote everything down in a little book that I travel with all winter so I can remember the most important basic lessons he taught me.

You sang in a biathlonworld video last season with Lowell and Jean-Gui. Have you always sung? Are you replacing Gabriela and will we see more of your singing next season?!

Gabriela was a little busy winning the overall World Cup title! I was just her substitute. I love singing and playing music with other people so I am always ready for the next video. I learned many instruments growing up… I don’t do anything super well, but I can do a little bit of everything.


Do you have a favourite race (sprint, pursuit etc.)? Which is it and why?

I like anything that is head-to-head, so pursuits and relays are my favorite so far. I hope to do a mass start one day because I think that would be my favorite.

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

Andrea Henkel Burke!!! She is a great athlete, a great person and a great mentor. We are so lucky to have her living in Lake Placid.

Does your rifle have a name?

She is called Rifey.


Describe yourself in three words.

outgoing, energetic, pig-lover

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Everybody is great
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Johannes Thingnes Boe’s pink rifle
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Belarus 2015 World Championships
Favourite shooting range: Ostersund, because the approach is downhill!
Lucky bib number: 11
Best use of the IBU Athlete Guidebook: checking out who is single, hot and has interesting hobbies.
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Stefani Popova (BUL) and Amanda Lightfoot (GB)
Best dancers on the World/IBU Cup: 1st Place: Team Manager from Kazakstan (AMAZING!!!), 2nd Place (tie): Lithuanian biathletes Gabriele Lescinskaite and Vytautas Strolia.
Best World Cup food: dense hot chocolate available in Italy and Slovenia
Friendliest Wax Tech: Gregoire Deschamps
Favourite song on stadium playlist: “Walking on sunshine”
Most annoying song on stadium playlist: “Hey baby I wanna know if you’ll be my girl”
Best thing about being a biathlete: Having the opportunity to represent the best side of my country, when the world often only sees the worst.

(Please note Clare added some of her own quick fire questions here! If only all the biathletes were so conscientious!:-)

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Federico Fontana: The Interview!

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Federico Fontana is a ski and wax technician from Frassinoro in Italy. He has been working in biathlon for 4 years firstly with the Polish Team, then Great Britain and has just taken a new job with US biathlon. He currently lives in Germany but is still involved in the Frassinoro Summer Biathlon Festival. Apparently his nickname in biathlon is “Helmut” but we are not allowed to know why!!:-)

You can follow Federico on Twitter: @fedefontana82

How did you become a wax tech? Are you just a frustrated athlete or do you prefer the equipment/technical side?

A nice question..well I wasn’t like that, I was a cross country skier but after the junior category I decided I wasn’t good enough….or the results did it for me! I started to ski when I was around one year old (in my dad’s child backpack). In Frassinoro, my town, you don’t have any choice but to try to be a cross country skier so the passion for my sport is inside.

After my short career as an athlete I started all the steps to make it my profession first becoming a ski teacher then a 2nd level cross country and biathlon trainer with the dream to work at the top in the World Cup. An important role in that was played by my “GURU” Gianluca Marcolini,one of the best wax techs in the world, who was also my former coach and he gave me the motivation to achieve my goals and the biggest help to learn about wax and skis. He has always been my role model in that and with him my first ski teacher,a legend in Italian cross country skiing history, Leonello Biondini, president of my ski club, a dedicated person that loves the sport more than everything. He taught us to work hard and do it with passion and love.
I can never thank Gianluca and Leonello enough for what they gave me in my career.

After all my courses I worked for several years with my ski club coaching and waxing,then with the Emilia Romagna regional team (my region). Then in 2011 the opportunity came… I received a phone call from a person who at that time turned out to be an other important person in my life…Bruno Maddalin, asking me if I would like to work with him with the Polish team…the answer was easy:let’s do it!Two years with Bruno were perfect,if Gianluca was and is still my guru and my role model and one of my best friends,Bruno taught me so much,a great man,and very good friend now. The rest is history and I have more goals and hopefully a long career to come.

You just got a new job working for the US Team. How is it going so far?

Yes the contract with the US I can say is a big step forward for me, a huge injection of motivation and desire to do a great job.
After two years with Poland and one season with the British Team as main wax tech, which gave me a big opportunity to improve myself taking decisions and organizing a working system, the time came and I accepted without hesitation the offer from the US.
After the first months of work I’m really satisfied, it is a great team, hard working and really well organised….and other than that a really tight group of positive and friendly people, that always helps towards working for a good result.
We will show you next season what we can do!!!

Have you ever had any waxidents (accidents with wax)?

A nice question!….well I had… but I prefer not to mention it or describe it! Not good for kids but I just suggest you should always wash your hands after powder application even if it is only to go to the washroom 😉
Biathlon23 is very grateful to Federico for not going into detail here. You can use your imagination!!!

What advice would you give to someone who is learning to wax skis?

There are a lot of suggestions but the best and this is what someone said to me, and I chose to make it my motto is : in our job nothing is written, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can learn everything from the label of a powder bottle, don’t be afraid to try or to do crazy applications that don’t seem logical. Behind these things you can find the pot of gold!

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What are the best and worst things about being a wax tech?

Everyday I put everything into my job so as a person I remember everything, the good and bad things and I try to learn from all of it…also in the bad days you must learn a lesson and especially in this you must find the reason.
For sure when you have a good result and everybody is glad it is nicer, but you can find good things also when the skis are not perfect. Basically never give up!

How much input do the biathletes have when you are choosing the wax for the skis? Who makes the final decision?

For the wax athletes have nothing to do it is all in our hands. We work with them for the choice of the skis this of course, and it works like an exchange of feelings and several combinations,considering snow conditions, place, start number, weather etc…but most of the time when you and your athletes have a good connection they trust you 100% and in the end we choose for them.

Are you responsible for preparing all the skis or are you assigned to certain biathletes?

With the US I will be responsible for wax and application plus I will follow directly Susan Dunklee and our male talent Sean Doherty.
And I’m very happy for my position.

Describe your typical race weekend? What are your responsibilities, how long do you spend waxing, testing etc? Do you help on the tracks or shooting range during the race?

Oooh! Do you have enough space in the article? Just kidding! Everyday we write down a working plan schedule with time and action but basically to make it short the day can start at 8 am and finish at 8 or 9 pm.
During the race every tech has a job to do and we cover all the critical points of the race course following also the request of the coaches, for example if needed we do the feeding during the individual etc.. but me for example I will be the last to leave the cabin in case the weather changes and I receive from my colleagues information from the track…and if this happens it can be panic….you must be cold enough and have the solution ready in your pocket…and you can save or rescue the performance…basically it is hard work in stressful situations.

Is the world of wax quite secretive? Do you have special formulas that you don’t want other teams to know about?

Sure I like to keep everything secret, application formulas etc….everything that we develop stays in a database and only we know how we do it….we are jealous about our job!

What do you do in the summer? Roller skis don’t need wax so what do you do until the start of the new season?

In the summer we are not always on holiday, we also have a summer working schedule which means selecting skis,inventory and testing. For the rest of the time most of us have a second job. Me for example I work as a “pizzaiolo”(pizza baker) and cook helper in an Italian restaurant here in Germany! Cooking is one of my passions….these Italians. …pasta pizza e mandolino!!!

You are involved in the Frassinoro summer biathlon festival. Can you tell me something about it and why biathlon is so popular in such a small place?

This is something I’m really proud of! As I said we are a huge cross country center with a big tradition and good athletes in our history, but Frassinoro being a town of 700 people is funny because it seems like we have some genetics to be wax techs. Right now three of us work on the World Cup and in total there have been 6. The passion for biathlon grew up from me and another 3 or 4 guys, first going to Ruhpolding to watch the World Cup, and it was love at first sight. Day by day the group became bigger and bigger and the trips for the events more and more. Now it’s one of the largest fan clubs in Italy – The Frassinoro Biathlon Friends.

In Frassinoro we are stubborn and when we decide to do something we do it, typical of mountain people and the idea to bring an event home was born during a Saturday night aperitivo. We try to do as much as we can and I really want to make it clear that it is all volunteering, with help from sponsors and all done by ourselves. Now we showed to the institution that we are serious and we presented a project for a summer biathlon center which will complete the sport and touristic offers that we already give for the winter with an amazing cross country center also in the summer. They like it and the first installment of financing is approved!
It is worth it to visit our mountains even if they are not The Alps. They are amazing and Frassinoro is a wonderful place to do sport, relax and enjoy the typical friendly Italian lifestyle!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Ruhpolding most for the atmosphere
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Past:Ole Einar….ok well he is still a present athlete (joking)
Present: my girlfriend….;-)
(Megan Heinicke)
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): pursuit
Favourite wax tech: Gianluca Marcolini
Favourite food: pasta and pizza
Favourite singer/band: Rod Stewart
Favourite film: I’m not a movie person but I like the historical genre
Favourite sports team: USA biathlon team
Favourite TV show: The Simpsons, Hells kitchen


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Max Durtschi: The Interview!

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Max Durtschi from Ketchum, Idaho in America is one of US biathlon’s newest recruits. He made the decision to become a biathlete after retiring from professional cycling. When he was young he was an accomplished cross country skier and also enjoyed shooting so naturally he became a cyclist!!! Now having seen the error of his ways the 24-year-old is embarking on a new career in biathlon and he made his debut on the IBU Cup last season in Canmore.

You can follow Max on Twitter: @MaxDurtschi

You used to be a professional cyclist. How and why did you become a biathlete?

I grew up ski racing and spent a lot of time shooting with my father. In 2013, I retired from cycling, and really wanted to get back to my skiing roots. At some point during that winter I was shooting with a friend and something clicked. I thought, “I need to try biathlon.” I can’t explain why the thought came to my mind, but it was pretty clear to me that I should give the sport a shot.

As someone who is relatively new to biathlon what do you find most difficult? What are the things you need to improve on for the coming season?

The coming season is really exciting for me because I can improve in everything. I did not have a chance to ski often when I was a cyclist and learning how to shoot well and consistently is a big challenge. A focus of mine this summer is to build strength in my upper body. I lost a lot of that during my time as a cyclist.


What were your goals for last season and did you achieve them?

Last year my goal was to learn. Every single day I wanted to make progress and educate myself. At the beginning of the year I did not even know what the different race formats were. By the end of the season I was able to compete in an IBU Cup in Canmore, which was a very valuable learning experience. Overall, last season was challenging, but I can be happy with the progress I made.

Do you receive any funding? If not how do you pay for equipment, travel etc?

I am very fortunate to be supported by USA Biathlon. They are providing me with the structure that I need to succeed. In addition, Powerbar, Willie Neal Environmental Awareness Foundation, and Play Hard Give Back provide me with remarkable support.

What’s your typical day like?

Everyday I wake up and take a moment to make a decision, “Today, am I going to work hard to be better at my trade?” The answer is always “Yes.” From there, my day is filled with skiing, running, shooting, gym work, and other forms of training. I do usually have time to eat a bit and have a nap too…

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Have you been able to train with anyone from the World Cup Team yet? If so what was it like? What did you learn from them?

I am very fortunate to interact with the World Cup athletes on a daily basis. They bring a level of professionalism to every single training session. I have learned from the focus they exhibit during shooting exercises. They make every single bullet count on the range, and I strive to do the same.

If you could steal one characteristic from another biathlete, what would it be, who from and why?

I admire the body language of Johannes Thingnes Boe when he approaches the range. He looks mean, assertive, and confident – like he is hunting the targets. I try to keep that same attitude in training and racing.

Who is your role model? (in biathlon or in general)

I really admire the work ethic of my parents. Both have incredible stories, and are great examples of determination overcoming circumstance. When my training sessions are particularly hard, I think about the things they have had to overcome and it inspires me.

Sportspeople are famous for being superstitious. Do you have any superstitions? Do you always put your right/left ski on first or wear the same underwear on race day?!

I am not superstitious. I believe that confidence is a very important trait in sport and regardless of external factors, I believe that everyday I am capable of performing well.

What do you do to relax and forget about biathlon for a bit?

I really enjoy fishing, watching movies, and reading. I live with Sean Doherty at the Olympic Training Center, and we have a really good time together joking and talking. This really helps keep my mind off of sport when need be.

Normally I ask if your rifle has a name but your rifle has a whole life story. Can you tell me about it?

My rifle means a lot to me. It belonged to a remarkable young man, and friend of mine, Willie Neal. He passed away, but his spirit is alive and well. He inspires me to work hard every day. His family was kind enough to pass his rifle on to me, and I do my best to represent Willie in a positive light.
For more about Willie Neal and the Willie Neal Environmental Awareness Foundation see here: http://www.wnealenvirofund.org/

Describe yourself in three words.

This is tough… I will go with: Relaxed, Thoughtful, Driven.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Hochfilzen, Austria
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Tim Burke
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Individual
Favourite/best race of your career so far? Individual IBU CUP 8 Canmore, AB
Favourite food: Good Oatmeal
Favourite singer/band: Kelly Joe Phelps
Favourite film: So many! Apollo 13
Favourite sports team: Seattle Seahawks
Favourite TV show: SportsCenter

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Brian Halligan:The Interview!

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This week’s interviewee is another young American biathlete Brian Halligan from Saratoga Springs. The 19 year old currently lives in Fort Kent, Maine. He has already taken part in two Youth/Junior World Championships in Obertilliach and Presque Isle.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @bhbiathlon

Take a look at his blog: http://brianhalliganbiathlon.blogspot.co.uk

Americans play baseball, basketball, hockey, football and want to be WWE Wrestlers! Explain yourself! How did you become a biathlete?

My father was a National Guard biathlete so I grew up around the sport. I was never pushed to do it but I fell in love with it at an early age. My childhood winters were filled with skiing and biathlon so it was just natural for me to do biathlon.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life? Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

I will admit that training and racing has kept me from some social outings with friends but they understand that this is something I love to do. Plus they all tell me they are jealous of me because I get to go to Europe. As for education I decided to put university off for a few years to see how far I could get with biathlon.

Will you be competing in Raubichi in the World Youth/Junior Championships? What is the selection criteria for your country?

I have not qualified for Raubichi yet. Qualification for the US is at the end of December. It is a best 2 of 3 race series in Anchorage, Alaska. The top junior athletes within 98% of the leader qualify for the Championships.

(This interview was done before the trials which were eventually held in Mount Itasca, Minnesota and good news Brian qualified not only for Raubichi but also the Open European Championships in Estonia!)

Do you receive any funding? If not how do you pay for equipment, travel etc?

Right now I do not receive any funding. Travel and equipment is paid for by my parents and I.

What’s the best and worst thing about being a biathlete?

I really hate explaining biathlon to people. Nobody in the US knows what it is so they always ask about it. When graduating high school I got so tired of explaining to people I was joining a biathlon team instead of going to university, I started telling people I was just going to University in Maine. The best part of biathlon for me is the racing. I love to race, even during training. My teammates always tell me to slow down because I am going too hard but I love to race.

If you could steal one characteristic from another biathlete, what would it be, who from and why?

I wish I could steal the Bo brothers speed and accuracy on the range. It is always fun to see them come in and shoot clean in 19 or 18 seconds.

What would you like to change about biathlon? (the rules, equipment, schedule etc).

It would be cool if there was a Jr. World Cup. It doesn’t have to be all season, but 2 or 3 stops would be fun and something to look forward to while training in the summer, not just YJWC.

Who is your role model? (in biathlon or in general)

I don’t think I have one role model. I have received so much help and guidance from so many athletes past and present. They say it takes a village to raise a child. In my case it took the biathlon community to raise me.

What’s your typical day like?

My typical day: I wake up at 7:00 and eat breakfast. Then I go to training at 8 or 8:30. Training ends around 11 so I usually eat either second breakfast or first lunch. A little later around 1:30 I’ll eat a bigger lunch. Next, depending on how I’m feeling I’ll nap, do homework, or watch a biathlon race from last year’s world cup. At about 3 I will dry-fire and get ready for afternoon training. Training will end at about 6, then it’s time for dinner, then bed at 10. Some days I have to skip afternoon training because I work in the Deli at the grocery store in Fort Kent.

You are lucky enough to have people like Tim Burke and Lowell Bailey in your team. Do they give you help and advice or are they mean and just ignore you?;-)

I have seen Tim and Lowell as role models my whole life, even though I just met them this year. They haven’t given me advice of any kind but just being able to practice with them and hang out with them from time to time is really cool and inspirational.

Does your rifle have a name?

Haha, no. But when I shoot well I sometimes talk to my rifle.

Describe yourself in three words.

Fun, Focused, Happy

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Nove Mesto, CZE

Favourite biathlete (past or present): Russell Currier (I live with him in Fort Kent)

Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Mass Start

Favourite/best race of your career so far? YJWC, 2014 in Presque Isle. In the Individual I was 18th

Favourite food: Pineapple and Ham Pizza

Favourite singer/band: Twenty One Pilots

Favourite film: Miracle on Ice

Favourite sports team: New York Yankees

Favourite TV show: The Walking Dead.

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Maddie Phaneuf: The Interview!

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In the first in a new series of interviews with young biathletes Biathlon23 talked to the USA’s Maddie Phaneuf about her experiences in the sport so far. Maddie is 19 and was born in Virginia and now lives in Lake Placid. She had a great Youth/Junior World Championships in Presque Isle and I am looking forward to seeing what she can achieve this season.

You can follow Maddie on Twitter: @MaddieBiathlete, find her on Facebook and I highly recommend reading her blog:
http://maddiebiathlon.blogspot.co.uk/

Biathlon is not that popular in America, cheerleading is! How did you escape the pom-poms to become a biathlete?

It’s funny because I actually started out dancing and doing ballet when I was younger, but then my family and I moved to my current hometown (in New York State) and they did not have a good dance program there. They did have a lot of snow and skiing though, so that’s when I learned how to ski…and eventually picked up biathlon.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life? Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

Currently, I am not doing full-time school, but instead I am just doing a few online college classes. So during my down time from training I work on my school. It seems to be working well, and I will be done with the classes by the time the race season begins. For my social life, most of my friends are within the biathlon community, so it is very easy to continue that social life during training and competitions. Although, I do have friends from high school that are not in biathlon, and it’s a bit harder to keep up with their lives. Usually if I am home for a while I try to hang out with them and catch up, otherwise I just see what they are up to by checking their Facebook. If I were not training, I would definitely have more of a social life, and sometimes I miss that. I usually cannot just meet up with a friend for the weekend, or stay out too late because of training, which can be not so fun.

Will you be competing in Raubichi in the World Youth/Junior Championships? What is the selection criteria for your country?

Yes, I will be competing in Raubichi! I am very excited to compete in my second ever World Youth/Junior Championships. It will be interesting to see how different the competition is compared to last season in the USA, and now this year as a Junior rather than a Youth. The selection criteria for my country (USA) is that we have a set of three races in December over a week. To make the team you have to be a certain percent back from the winner of each race, and they count the two best of three races. Sean Doherty and I have pre qualified for these races because of our performance at the last World Youth/Junior Championships, so we will not be competing at the selection races.

Do you receive any funding? If not how do you pay for equipment, travel etc?

I receive some funding, but currently unsure on how much funding I will receive this season. I did get a good deal from Rossignol on my equipment, but I pay for my equipment myself with the help of my parents. With travel my parents help a lot, because I do not have a job because of training…so I don’t have an income. Also, for training, I live in Lake Placid, NY at the Olympic Training Center with the National Team, so our housing and food is all paid for…so training is basically free, which is very helpful.

What’s the best and worst thing about being a biathlete?

I think the best part about being a biathlete is that I get to travel around the world and meet people from different cultures while doing the thing I enjoy most! There really aren’t many things that make being a biathlete a bad thing. Maybe the worst thing about being a biathlete would be having to carry your large ski bag and rifle case while traveling in the airport…which can be tiring and take a long time.

If you could steal one characteristic from another biathlete, what would it be, who from and why?

If I could steal one characteristic from another biathlete, I would want to be able to look as beautiful as Gabriela Soukalova does when she’s competing. It’s impressive how she can look so pretty while competing and win! I don’t know how she does it…but it’s a skill I’d like to have. I’m already a natural blonde, so I’m part-way there!

What would you like to change about biathlon? (the rules, equipment, schedule etc).

I don’t think there is really anything I would choose to change about biathlon. Maybe the only thing would be for the relay, if a team does not have 4 people, they could use one of their teammates twice. I know this is an issue for the USA Women’s team this season, because they will only have three women competing on the first World Cup races. They all really want to compete in the relays this season, but they do not have enough women, so it would be cool if they could race Susan, Hannah, Annelies, Susan.

Who is your role model? (in biathlon or in general)

Steve Prefontaine, I have been inspired by him since I was younger. I was more into running before biathlon, and he was a phenomenal track star. I would watch the movie Prefontaine on repeat, and know his story as well as I know my story! To be as good as an athlete as he was and to have the passion for a sport like he did for running, would mean everything to me.

To learn more about Steve Prefontaine see his website: http://prefontainerun.com/index.php

What’s your typical day like?

Well, my typical day is as follows:

1)Wake up 7:00
2)Breakfast 7:30-8:30
3)Morning training 9:00
4)Shower
5)Lunch 12:00-13:00
6)Recovery/Free 13:00-15:30
7)Afternoon training 15:30
8)Shower
9)Dinner 18:00-19:00
10)Dry fire
11)Bed 21:30

You are on a team with Susan Dunklee, Hannah Dreissigacker and Annelies Cook. Do they help you with tips and advice or are they super competitive and don’t want you to steal their place in the team?! 😉

It has been a great experience training with Susan, Annelies, and Hannah after watching them compete on the World Cup and looking up to them the past few years. They have been extremely helpful! If I ever need help with anything or if I ever have a question they are always there for me. I don’t think they are too worried about me stealing their place on the team, because they are all so much older than I am. I am still only 19 and in my developing years, they are each in their late 20’s early 30’s and have been in this sport longer than me! I also don’t see them as the type of people that are super competitive when it comes to teammates. They are competitive when they need to be, during training and competitions, but when you need help or are just hanging out as a team, they are all so friendly and caring. It has been a fun experience, and I’m excited to see how they do this season!

Does your rifle have a name?

It currently does not, but I’ll take suggestions!! I never thought about naming my rifle before…do people actually do that?

Describe yourself in three words.

I am…happy, outgoing, determined.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Canmore, Alberta, Canada
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Franziska Hildebrand, GER
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Relay
Favourite/best race of your career so far? 4th place (shooting clean!) in Youth Women Sprint at Youth/Junior World Championships 2014 in Presque Isle, Maine USA

Favourite food: Chocolate
Favourite singer/band: Vance Joy
Favourite film: Into The Wild
Favourite sports team: USA Women’s Soccer
Favourite TV show: The Vampire Diaries (guilty pleasure)

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TIMBUR!!!!!(-ke)

burke

With a name like Tim Burke you might have though he would have pursued a career as a lumberjack! Not so, instead he pursues other biathletes around at 12.5km course! He also seems to like creating a bit of American biathlon history along the way.

Growing up near Lake Placid has probably helped him do it. Tim comes from a place called Paul Smiths (yes I also thought it was a fashion designer!) in New York State which is a small village of around 700 people. Luckily it does get a lot of snow and meant that Tim started cross country skiing when he was a child. He took up biathlon at 13 and has gone on to carve out an outstanding career for himself.

Tim was the first ever American biathlete to wear the yellow bib as the overall World Cup leader. He did this back in 2009 when he had a fantastic start to the season coming 2nd in the Oestersund Individual race. He became only the second U.S biathlete to stand on the second step of the podium following Josh Thompson who did it in the World Championships in 1987. Not satisfied with that Tim went on to exactly match Thompson by winning a silver medal for himself in the World Championships in the Individual Race in Nove Mesto 2013.

In fact he has been second three times now after the Oberhof Mass Start in 2009/10 also saw him finish just behind the winner. He has finished third three times as well the most recent of these coming last season in the Oestersund Sprint and was his best result of the year. In season 2012/13 he came 10th in the Total Score by virtue of having six TOP 5 finishes. Make no mistake these are impressive results for an American biathlete. The only thing missing is his first win which must be one of his goals for this season.

Unfortunately his performances in Sochi were not what he was hoping for. After a strong start to the season he couldn’t sustain it through to Sochi where his top result was 19th in the Sprint. The Americans actually did really well at the Olympics as a team with Lowell Bailey coming a fantastic 8th in the Individual race and Susan Dunklee getting 11th in the Mass Start and 14th in the Sprint. They have the makings of a great Mixed Relay team with Tim, Lowell and Susan putting in such fantastic performances. Tim also has a responsibility to help out and share his experience with the new talent coming through for America like Sean Doherty and Casey Smith.

All in all US biathlon is on the up at the moment and that is in great part down to the likes of Tim. He has really made the other nations sit up and take notice of America in terms of biathlon even if America might not take much notice of its biathletes! If he can reproduce his form from 2012/13 we will be in for an exciting season. He already knows he is capable of getting a medal in the World Championships and will be aiming to go one better in Kontiolahti. He is also a great anchor for the relay team and the Men’s and Mixed teams won’t be far away from the podium. So all the other biathletes better watch out because he is coming to chop you down – TIMBUR!!!!(-ke)

Follow Tim on Twitter: @tb_burke
Like his Facebook page: ‘Tim Burke’
Check out his website: http://timburke.us/


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