As you may or may not know, I was named to the US team for IBU cups 4, 5, and 6. We spent this past week in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic for IBU cup 4 before making the long trek to Ridnaun, Italy where IBU cup 5 will kick off on Thursday (For those of you who don’t know, IBU cups are kind of like the minor league of biathlon. A step down from World Cups). This being my first international biathlon experience, as well as my first full season doing biathlon, it has really been a learning experience. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned so far.
Carrying a lot of skis at once isn’t just a skill, it’s an art form (and something I am terrible at). The first day of ski testing I made two trips to carry my skis. Then Han taught me “the fan”. I finally got it down with two pairs and was feeling pretty good about myself until I saw a wax tech carrying a fan that had at least five pairs of skis! Impressive!
If you wear your athlete bib over you warm up vest you look like a newb. On official training days you have to have your bib showing to shoot. The first day I made the mistake of putting it over my vest. Don’t worry, I was quickly informed by Coach Jean that this made me look like a newb and was able to correct my mistake.
If the wind flags are doing different things, look at the one closest to the targets. In our first race there was a pretty good wind during zero. When I came in to shoot prone during the race, the far wind flag was calm while the close wind flag was still blowing. I didn’t take clicks and all my shots were low and to the right. I missed two so it could have been worse but still, lesson learned.
Wearing your drink belt in front isn’t dorky, it’s just practical. When you have a rifle on your back it really just makes so much sense to wear your drink belt in front. Plus, everyone’s doing it so you actually look kinda weird NOT doing it.
There are a lot of biathlon fans in Europe. The stands at the stadium in Nove Mesto looked like a football stadium. They weren’t quite full for our races but there was a lot of cheering going on. The Hungarian fan club was there and they love the Americans. They would start chanting my name when they saw me. I’m not gonna lie, it made me feel pretty cool.
The fancy hairstyles you see watching the women’s World Cups aren’t just for looks. Turns out it’s pretty tricky to find a way to wear long hair so that it won’t get caught in your harness and will also keep your headband or hat from sliding off the top of your head. I’m still working on this one.
Orange and Purple aren’t just for Clemson. Adidas took some artistic liberty with “red, white and blue” so this year’s US suits and gear are all purple and orange. I still think orange is my worst color but I do like the purple! And now I have lots of good hunting season clothes.
Czech food is everything you’d expect it to be. And by that I mean chicken, potatoes, more chicken, and more potatoes. But if you go to the grocery store you can buy just about one of everything for less than 10$ US.
Italian food is everything you’d expect it to be. And more. We went to dinner after our 10 hour drive from Czech. The waiter comes out and says, “For our first course we have homemade ravioli with bacon. Is this ok?” Yep I think that will be ok.