While the rest of the Elite Team headed off to West Yellowstone for Thanksgiving, I missed out on the festival for the first time in a number of years and instead headed up to Canmore, Alberta, for a camp with the US Biathlon development team. While it was a little bittersweet to miss out on the friends and familiar faces of West Yellowstone, it has been exciting to get into the biathlon scene up here, at one of the most spectacular Nordic venues in North America. Canmore hosted the Nordic events at the 1988 Olympics and is towered over by peaks of the Canadian Rockies.
When I first got up here, there was little to no natural snow off the trail, but the snow making efforts from Frozen Thunder had already opened up most of the biathlon and nordic World Cup trails. While the first few days up here were relatively warm, pretty soon a blizzard came through bringing high winds, heavy snow and cold temperatures. This presented a great introduction to me about how cold of a sport biathlon is. While I’ve faced cold temperatures plenty of times before, it is an added challenge trying to stay warm with the constant stopping for shooting and reloading that biathlon requires. Plus, when you’re shooting, you’re usually supposed to wear your race suit and thin gloves, since extra layers can alter your aim and accuracy. Luckily I made it through the cold snap with all limbs and digits intact, and I now have a better idea of how I need to dress to survive in those sub zero temperatures that are common during winter in places other than California…
Unfortunately, the cold weather also forced the cancellation of our first weekend of races. Although it was disappointing not to make my biathlon debut, I was also a little bit happy that I didn’t have to have my first race experience at -4F. Temperatures have now warmed up, and our first races should be this weekend. While biathlon is generally a pretty small sport in North America, there are nearly 300 competitors this weekend, which organizers are saying might be the largest ever biathlon competition in North America. Since these are my first races, I don’t have super high expectations, and I’m mainly looking at them as a chance to put a bib on and finally see how this sport really works!
While we’ve mostly been training here in Canmore, a couple of days ago we headed into Banff National Park for a beautiful ski near Lake Louise. Here are a few photos… definitely a place I’d like to get back to for some more exploration in the future.