My third biathlon camp of the year is in the books, and I’m back in Truckee after two weeks of hard, focused training at Soldier Hollow in Utah. While the first two camps were built around those of us in USBA’s Talent Identification program, and focused on teaching us the fundamentals of the sport, this camp was our opportunity to join with the national team and get our introduction to the training required to become a world-class biathlete/ This camp included the entire national team, including the likes of World Cup podiumers Tim Burke, Lowell Bailey, and Susan Dunklee. And despite being only four months into my biathlon career, my training plan for the camp was essentially the same as theirs. What this meant was lots of hours, lots of intensity, and lots of combination shooting- at this camp, except for when you zeroed, almost all of the shooting was with a pulse- often a high one.
For someone as new to biathlon as myself, this certainly meant this camp was going to be a challenging one. For example, on top of having limited experience shooting with a very high pulse, I also had barely ever combined rollerskiing with shooting before, which makes the task of getting on the mat to shoot considerably more complicated than when you are running/walking, as you have to find a way to quickly cut your speed (not a simple task, as anyone who’s been on rollerskis knows…), before, in my case, crash landing onto the mat. And hopefully this crash landing results in your body lying/standing in the same position every time, since the key to shooting well is doing it exactly the same every single time. While you are doing this, you of course have the coaching staff standing behind you, all of whom have experience working with Olympic medalists and World Cup Champions, watching every move and every shot, and recording it into a book.
But of course, this process, this trial by fire, as you might call it, is great experience for building the mental strength required to be a successful for biathlete. While the goal is to hit every shot, even the pros still have misses, and when the target doesn’t fall you can’t get flustered, you simply have to move your focus on to the next target or the next shooting bout. This whole camp was a great opportunity to work on the mental fortitude and focus required to be a shooter. There would be times that I’d ski into the range behind Tim Burke and take the point adjacent to his, and while it’s exciting and inspiring to see how fast and accurate a World Cup biathlete shoots, I wasn’t there to be a spectator, I was there with the hopes of one day being able to shoot like Tim. So in those instances I’d find a way to focus on my own task at hand, forget who I was shooting next to, and work solely on making those targets down my lane turn white.
After two weeks of hard training like this, I’m happy to say my shooting took some significant steps forward. On top of that, on the penultimate day of camp, I got the exciting news: I was being named to USBA’s Development Team! Before I know it I’ll be back on the road, first in West Yellowstone, followed by my next D-Team camp in Canmore, Alberta, and then it will be on to Mt. Itasca and the IBU cup trials.
Also for those who haven’t seen it, fasterskier.com posted an article about my biathlon endeavors here. I’m also doing some fundraising through RallyMe to help pay for some of my biathlon costs, you can find my page here.