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Posts Tagged ‘World Cup biathlon’

A Look Back at Östersund

8.Dec.2014 by Susan Dunklee

Before shifting gears to the next World Cup venue in Hochfilzen, Austria, I wanted to share some pictures from the past week in Östersund, Sweden.

Daylight in Scandinavia is fleeting during December months. The sun never gets very high. However, sunrise and sunset can last for hours and we saw some spectacular colors.

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You’ll notice that winter is late in coming to Sweden; we raced on snow that had been stockpiled from last winter and protected under a big layer of sawdust. A couple days before the athletes arrived, the organizers rolled it out into a 4 km loop. Unfortunately, this has become a common phenomenon in recent years as winter weather around the world has become unrealiable.

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Since many of our races were at night (or late afternoon), the stadium was well lit. The lights brightened the whole sky and could be seen from many kilometers away.

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A distinguishing feature next to the race course is the Arctura tower. It stores hot water for the entire town.

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Before the races, the IBU (International Biathlon Union) asked all the teams do so some photo shoots for media purposes. Here Tim is getting instructed on exactly how to stand.

We had several races in Östersund: a mixed relay, an individual, a sprint and a pursuit. These next five candid race day photos are courtesy of our team doctor Marci Goolsby:

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Waiting for my start.

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Lapping in front of the stadium on my way to the shooting range.

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Throwing my rifle back on my back after completing a stage of standing shooting.

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Exiting the finishing chute post race.

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After each race, athletes are required to go through a “mixed zone” for the media. I rarely get asked for interviews in the mixed zone, but a Russian TV crew honored me with a request on Sunday.

Back at our team wax cabin post race, I made an unpleasant discovery. Snow conditions suffered from warm weather at the end of the week exposing several rocks on the course. I remember feeling some stones underfoot a couple times in the last race that brought me to almost a complete stop. One of my best race skis sustained some serious damage:

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Those two long white lines used to be part of my ski. I’m hoping it can be repaired. Wax tech Tias (above) tells me that even if the gash is patched well (which we will certainly try), water may be able to leak through the side and weaken the core, so it might be a lost cause.

Everyone is hoping for some better snow in the coming weeks.

Race Day Routines

28.Nov.2014 by Susan Dunklee

This weekend marks the start of World Cup racing. On Sunday, we will put on the red, white and blue and represent the USA in the season’s first mixed relay in Östersund, Sweden. Over the winter, we race in about 30 competitions around 10 different countries, but our race day routines always looks the same. Here’s how I approach a race:

The Evening Before

We have a short team meeting to go over race day logistics and discuss strategy. Afterwards I write myself out a detailed schedule for the next day. Among other things, it includes when I plan to wake up in the morning, when I will eat meals, what time I must leave for the venue and when I should start warming up. Having a plan to follow simplifies race day preparations for me. It takes away extra stress, allowing me to focus on only one task at a time. It gives me confidence that I will fit in everything I need to do for the race.

Race Day

First thing in the morning, I go for short walk or jog outside to help the body wake up and to get a feel for the weather.

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Sunrise over the biathlon range in Sjusjøen, Norway

I eat a hearty breakfast (and lunch if the race happens to be in the late afternoon or evening).

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One of my staple breakfast combinations: Yogurt, museli, almonds, banana and blueberries.

An hour before I have to leave I pack a backpack with everything I’ll need, including some dry clothes and a snack for after the race. I warm up the nervous system for shooting by doing some dryfire drills (indoor shooting practice without any bullets).

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You can often tell if a biathlete has been living somewhere if there are rows of little black dots (targets) taped to the wall.

Upon arrival at our team wax cabins I put on my ski boots and race bib and head to the course. I may need to meet up with one of our wax technicians to do a final test of my skis and choose the fastest pair for the given conditions.

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Christian, our newest wax technician comes from Lillehammer.

Rifle zeroing opens an hour before race time. On my way I stop at equipment inspection to get my rifle’s trigger weight checked to make sure it is not too light. I then shoot some magazines on paper to check that my rifle’s sights are accurate. My coach looks at the bullets’ grouping through a scope and gives me corrections if needed.

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Coach Jonne helps zero my teammate Annelies.

I finish with a “confirmation,” a hard loop skied around the stadium followed by shooting one more magazine to make sure my grouping stays centered with a higher heart rate. Then I load my magazines for the race and bring my rifle to the starting pen.

During the remainder of my time, I warm up skiing around the course. I use the opportunity to inspect the day’s snow conditions and I adapt my race plan and strategy if needed. 25 minutes or so before my start time, I do three minutes of race-pace effort and several short full speed pickups. 10 minutes before race time I report to the starting pen. I receive my race skis from our staff and bring them to equipment inspection to get marked. I pick up transponder timing chips that must be worn around my ankles.

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With less than five minutes to go, after some last minute jogging to stay loose, I shed my warm-up clothes. I triple check that I loaded all my magazines. Then it is time to line up at the start gate. The race is on! As soon as I am on course, the pre-race nerves go away.

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Lining up for the start during a small race last weekend with the German team in Sjusjøen, Norway.

Our World Cup race season begins this Sunday with a mixed relay in Östersund, Sweden (9:30 am EST in the US). Like all our World Cup races, you can stream it live.

Winter’s in the Air

11.Nov.2012 by Susan Dunklee

Soon it begins. On Tuesday I will be traveling to Sweden to start another winter of World Cup biathlon racing. It means four months living out of a duffel bag and braving airports almost every week… The thrill of putting on a race bib and standing on a start line in front of TV cameras and screaming spectators… Weathering the tremendous ups and downs that are biathlon’s emotional roller coaster… Laughing at the antics of teammates, wax techs and coaches every night at dinner… And skiing, on snow, everyday. I can’t wait!

The first World Cup biathlon race of the season takes place in Ostersund, Sweden on Sunday, November 25th (9:30 am eastern US standard time). It is a mixed relay, meaning that we will have two women and two men competing together on one team. You can watch it live on your computer by going to Biathlon World TV. Put it on your calendar.

In the meantime, watch replays from last year on Biathlon World TV to get fired up. The 2011/2012 World Cup 9 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia has some good ones- scroll to the right and click on the one titled “pursuit women replay”.

I have spent the past week at home in Craftsbury trying to catch up with friends and family and get organized before the long winter away.
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A few items that are coming with me to Europe this year that I didn’t have last year: a travel size guitar, a sunlamp, maple syrup, a foam roller, a German grammar workbook and a 3D puzzle.

The Outdoor Center is closed for the fall off season, so it has been quieter than normal, but I have had no problem staying busy. Even though the GRP skiers are away training in Canmore, I have had a great time getting to know the new GRP rowers. We even trained together in the gym one morning- I did strength circuits while they lined up 7 or 8 rowing machines next to each other for an interval workout.

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Dinner with the rowers and friends at Faraway Farm

The Outdoor Center started blowing snow last week, which meant I got to dust off an old pair or rock skis and carve some turns. Later in the week we had 15-20 BKL kids and juniors swarming over the pile like ants. It doesn’t matter how old you are, the season’s first snow never loses its magic.

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Davis took the first sledding runs down “Mt. Craftsbury” (photo: Judy Geer)

Ida was also around for a few days before heading to Europe for the cross country World Cup season. We visited our elementary school together to talk to Barton’s seventh graders about training, racing and traveling the world. The most interesting question we were asked: “Have you ever seen a lion?”

I also visited my high school, St. Johnsbury Academy and talked to the students about what it takes to chase after big goals. Watch the YouTube video

I never got around to writing a blog post about our recent national team training camp in Utah (3 weeks in late October/ early November) but here are a couple pics:

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The US Women and guest star Andrea Henkel from Germany enjoying Utah’s mountains (photo: Hannah Dreissigacker). Read about what it has been like to train with and get to know an Olympic champion over the past few years here

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Some of “Jonne’s Angels” enjoying our last week in Utah (photo: Armin Auchentaller). For more camp pictures and a recap from Utah, check out Hannah’s blog post here