Tag Archives: us biathlon

Jake Brown: The Interview!

Jake Brown is an American biathlete from Minnesota. The 27-year-old was a cross country skier until 2016 when he saw sense and became a biathlete! His progress has been rapid making his World Cup debut last season and scoring his first point when he finished 40th in the Antholz Sprint.

Follow Jake on Instagram.

Why did you become a biathlete?

I have always been a strong skate distance skier and had always wanted to try biathlon- I got the chance after racing NCAA skiing through the US Biathlon’s development program of post-collegiate cross-country skiers. Growing up I loved running, training, and pushing my limits, seeing how hard I could go. Yet I was still drawn to the great moments of team sports, like the buzzer beater in a basketball game or the 2-out at-bat in the bottom of the baseball’s ninth inning. I love that biathlon has a bit of both.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with? Was there anything that disappointed you?

Last season surpassed my expectations for 2018-2019. I had previously raced in four IBU cups, and so was shooting for a full IBU Cup season with the goal of making top-15s and a dream goal of racing our home World Cup in Utah. I hit 15th in my first IBU Cup race and spent most of the season racing World Cups, plus World Championships. It was a season I won’t forget!

I was really happy with how I trained last year, both in preparation for and throughout the winter. However, this year I’ll seek to do a better job of staying healthy. Lucky for me, sickness struck mostly during breaks in the race schedule last year, but I don’t think the frequency with which I was getting sick would be sustainable in the long term. I want to be more intentional this year about keeping sleep, nutrition, and healthy habits a priority.

You got to race at a home World Cup in Soldier Hollow for the first time last season. What was that like?

I was glued to the 2002 Olympics which were held in Salt Lake (with XC and Biathlon at Soldier Hollow) when I was 10, so to get to race there last year was special. Biathlon is growing in the US, and hosting a World Cup in close proximity to a metro area like Salt Lake City is a great way to spread the hype for this sport.

Your best result was in Antholz where the World Championships are being held! Is that a good track and range for you? Do you like the altitude?

In general I like racing hilly courses, and a lot of courses at altitude tend to have hills. Antholz has a good variety of terrain and is definitely tough, I like that. I needed at least three breaths between shots last year, so I wouldn’t say the range is easy for me, but I enjoyed racing there last year and look forward to racing there again- what a beautiful place.

We thought Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke had finished biathlon but they are both still working with the US team. How important is it for you to still have them around?

It’s been great. We in the US often need to recruit Europeans to lead our programs, and we do benefit from having European coaches. But Lowell and Tim have as much experience as anyone, and they understand better than anyone the challenges that American biathletes face. Lowell, having spent a year in Montana leading the Cross-Cut program at the club level, and Tim, now in a development-director role, are more invested in the grassroots growth of biathlon in the US, not just trying to fast track college skiers to the World Cup (as I was). I think that’s important long term.

What have you been doing for summer training?

I dealt with lower body injuries this spring, so I did a ton of upper body aerobic training early on: mostly Ski-Erg with a little surf-ski paddling with Paul Schommer. In late June I was able to get back on roller skis and double pole plus introduce a bit a gravel biking. I’ve never been a big cyclist, but I found I really enjoy long solo gravel riding for my over distance workouts in the Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

What are your goals for this season?

-Increase my shooting consistency and dial in my mental approach.
-Help our team crack the top 10 in Nations Cup for both World and IBU Cup

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

A few of my strengths are hilly courses, pushing myself on the last loop, and staying positive. A few current weaknesses are staying healthy, shooting speed and shooting consistency.

What are your hobbies?

Reading, helping out with the junior ski programs at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, exploring, water skiing, and playing sports.

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

Valcartier, Quebec. It’s a Nor-Am course on a military base, I love it because it is really challenging yet has great flow. It’s a narrow track through the forest with big climbs and fun, windy, wooded descents.

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

I don’t have a favorite, but I like it when an underdog puts it all together and wins- it was sweet to see Lowell win in 2017 and Dominik Windisch win last year.

Does your rifle have a name?

Nope.

Describe yourself in three words.

I love sports.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Estonia
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): The Unicorn one
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Russia’s black, blue, and pink suit from last year.
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Lucky bib number: 77
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Jules Burnotte, Canada
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Simon Fourcade, France
Best thing about being a biathlete: Becoming mentally stronger every day.

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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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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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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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