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January GRP Biathlon in Europe, Part 2

1.Feb.2019 by Hallie Grossman

World Cup 5: Ruhpolding, Germany

From Oberhof, Clare and Susan drove with the US Biathlon World Cup contingent while Jake, coming from Poland, met them in Germany en route to Ruhpolding. Driving from rainy, snowless Munich, the team first encountered snow just before pulling off the highway nine kilometers from Ruhpolding. Yet when they pulled into the hotel there was three feet of snow layered over everything (so much that signs plastered on buildings all over town warned pedestrians of the danger of falling snow from the roofs) and falling from the sky were the first flakes of a blizzard that would last the remainder of the day and add eight fresh inches to the snowy landscape. Most of the snowbase had come from record-setting storms earlier in the winter, and road closures and avalanche warnings from those storms were still in effect. While the US team was lucky to stay just 5 min from the race venue, other teams had to drive up to an hour due to road closures to get to their hotels. The avalanche warnings caused the organizing committee to delay the first race (the men’s sprint) by one day; men and women both raced the sprint on Thursday. The weekend was sunny with temperatures just below freezing- perfect weather for biathlon. In addition to the sprint, both men and women raced a relay, and Clare and Susan raced the mass start (the mass start is limited to 30 starters: the top 25 on the IBU points list are joined by 5 wild cards outside the top 25 who had the best individual performances from the given weekend).

And of course, the German biathlon fans did not disappoint, showing up en masse for their favorite home World Cup. Racing on a course lined with wild fans 3-spectators deep is energizing; it may even be worth having to pass through the unmistakable aroma of fried German cheese during each race loop. What feels a little strange coming from Craftsbury, where you can escape into the silence of the woods to train, is not only racing but also training in front of an audience of thousands of fans. The fans arrive hours before the race to claim their favorite course-side spots and on days where athletes are not racing (for example, much of the team on mass-start day, where only 30 athletes race), training still takes place and usually at the venue.

Evening ski in the Ruhpolding valley
Jake in the Ruhpolding relay
Clare with a fan and flamingo in Ruhpolding… and more fans!

IBU Cup 6: Lenzerheide, Switzerland

From Arber it was on to Lenzerheide, Switzerland for the IBU Cup crew. Lenzerheide was beautiful, the “Canmore of Europe” as Raleigh called it, with jagged mountains rising into blue sky on all sides. The team raced a sprint, pursuit, and relay in Lenzerheide, and all GRP athletes qualified for the pursuit by finishing in the top 60 in the sprint. Emily led the way in the pursuit, moving up from 27th to 18th with three penalties. The all-GRP team of Alex, Raleigh, Hallie, and Emily also started a mixed relay for the US.

The range in Lenzerheide

Raleigh racing beneath the jagged peaks of Lenzerheide, Switzerland

World Cup 6: Antholz-Anterselva, Italy

While the IBU Cup team wrapped up January competition in Switzerland, the World Cup crew traveled from Bavaria through Austria and over the Brenner Pass to Antholz-Anterselva in the South Tirol of Italy (a bilingual region of Italy, each town in the South Tirol has both a German and Italian name). The Antholz valley is a stunningly beautiful place with mountains blanketed in plenty snow and basked in plenty of sun: a cross-country skier’s paradise, or close to it. Accordingly, the biathlon venue is one of the most popular among athletes. The course contains a blend of rolling terrain through woods with more challenging climbs and snaking descents through open snow-laden meadows with jaw-dropping mountain views. Although clouds and snow made their way up the Antholz valley most mornings, by race time in the afternoons the sky was clear. Windy conditions and 1640m altitude made shooting more challenging than in Ruhpolding. Once again, however, that’s part of the sport. The race lineup for Antholz was the traditional sprint, pursuit, mass-start weekend; GRP highlights were Jake scoring a World Cup point with 40th in the sprint and Clare’s 15th in the mass start! Whether good or bad performances, it’s easy to be content in Antholz with the delightful weather and another delicious family club (think the best of both Italian and German food: all types of pasta, pretzels, würst, soft and hard cheeses, soups, and desserts).

Susan on the big climb in Antholz with the stadium and range in the background, chasing GRP summer athlete Johanna Talihärm of Estonia

Clare fighting on the big climb in Antholz with US men’s coach Michi Greis cheering her on


Europeans love biathlon.
Kids don’t care how many penalty loops you had…
Sunrise ski up the pass on the Italian-Austrian border

After the final races concluded on Sunday, January 27, we were reunited in Munich, albeit tired and happy to be heading home. Racing continues for the GRP biathlon team at the NorAm Cup this weekend in Jericho, VT (Feb 1 and 3), on the World Cup in Canmore, AB (Feb 7-10) followed by Soldier Hollow, UT (Feb 14-17), and on the IBU Cup at the Open European Championships in Minsk, Belarus (Feb 20-24). Follow all the IBU results at www.biathlonresults.com and look for updates on our team page www.greenracingproject.com. This weekend’s NorAm results can be found at http://www.eabiathlon.org/results.html. Thanks for reading!

January GRP Biathlon in Europe, Part 1

31.Jan.2019 by Hallie Grossman

To say January was a busy month for the Craftsbury Green Racing Project biathlon contingent would be an understatement. After taking a short turn on the sidelines as spectators and volunteers for US Cross-Country Nationals in Craftsbury, Hallie, Raleigh, Jake, and Emily headed over to the pond to join Clare, Susan, and the other athletes representing the United States for the January World Cup and IBU Cups. Alex joined a week later starting with the Arber IBU Cup, while Kelsey stayed in Craftsbury to train in anticipation of the Open European Championships held in Belarus in February. Additionally, GRP biathlon Alum Mike Gibson served as the coach for the IBU Cup team for the month.

January by the Numbers

In January, GRP biathletes…

– Raced 487.5km over 52 biathlon races and 1 cross-country ski race

– Took a total of 714 shots in competition (an even split between prone and standing at 357 apiece; this is not always a given as an athlete may shoot different quantities of prone and standing shots during a relay when spare rounds are used)

– Hit 267 of 357 prone targets for a prone shooting percentage of 74.8%

– Hit 248 of 357 standing targets for a standing shooting percentage of 69.5%

– Skied a total of 149 penalty laps

– Qualified for 10 pursuit races (4 on the World Cup and 6 on the IBU Cup)

– Qualified for 3 mass starts on the World Cup

IBU Cup 4: Duszniki-Zdroj, Poland

The first week for Hallie, Raleigh, Jake, Emily, Mike and the US IBU Cup team was spent in southern Poland, just a few miles from the Czech border, in the small-mountain town of Duszniki-Zdroj. The week kicked off with… excitement, we’ll say, as one of our vans busted its wheel bearings not 5 minutes from the Munich airport. Sparks flew, the van fish-tailed, and the axel screeched until we could get off the autobahn and to a mechanic. A few hours and a van shuffle later and we were back on the road and made it to Poland by evening.

The race-course in Poland was pretty flat; but as Mike Gibson put it, it is easy to ski, yet hard to race. A flatter course can be deceptively hard, and this was the case in Duszniki: long gradual climbs, flats, and straight-aways (plus one steeper climb) made for long working sections and little opportunities to find recovery during the race. The racing schedule in Poland was also challenging: Friday was a sprint time trial for the US team, followed by an IBU Cup sprint on Saturday (these first two races were to select athletes to fill the US squad for the World Cup relay in Oberhof, Germany the next day), and then yet another(!) IBU Cup sprint on Sunday. Emily, along with Joanne and Max from US Biathlon, qualified for the World Cup relay and so on Saturday night, after two challenging days of racing, drove six hours to Oberhof to race with the big guns the following day.

Poland was incredibly cheap; Jake bought 10 chocolate milks, 1 kg of clementines, peanut-butter, jam, two chocolate bars and a loaf of bread for the equivalent of seven US dollars. We enjoyed going out to lunch, eating large, delicious pizza, and spending $6-8. It goes without saying that we loaded up on snacks for the rest of the trip while in Poland (on the flight home Hallie was still working on Polish animal crackers – they were fifty cents), especially in anticipation of staying in spendy Switzerland during the final IBU Cup in January.

Coal-burning Polish buildings lined Duszniki’s central plaza

World Cup 4: Oberhof, Germany

The sun shown bright for us just one day in Poland and Oberhof- a rarity especially in Oberhof. On that sunny day, Susan in Clare both finished in the top 15 in the sprint, a highlight of the season so far. The rest of the week the weather was back to its normal “Snowberhof” (as Clare called it) self and it snowed and rained and rained some more for Clare and Susan in the pursuit plus Emily, who made the long trip from Poland the night before, for the relay.

So needless to say there were challenging conditions! For both races the course was significantly rutted out due to the rain and near-freezing temperatures. Add to that a downhill turn that was banked outward (think the opposite of a banked water slide) and the results were… crashes. Many athletes in the field ended up with broken skis, and a few unfortunate souls broke rifle stocks. Clare had an epic tie-up and went down in the finishing stretch of the pursuit. After fog and wind swept in for the relay on Sunday making for tricky shooting conditions. “But not unfair,” as Clare said, “We are prepared for exactly this kind of thing”. Biathlon can be a challenging sport on a calm bluebird day. Add wind and fog and it can become flat-out frustrating. But ours is an outdoor sport and part of the game is adjusting our shooting to obstinate weather conditions by reading the wind flags and being patient with each shot. Shooting in such conditions becomes not only a test of practice but also one of composure, and, when things go awry, perseverance. This is one of the great aspects about biathlon: it tests you beyond skill and fitness and challenges you to stay composed and handle pressure in myriad circumstances. On this day our women’s team managed the conditions well, especially on the track, and finished 13th despite five trips to the penalty loop.

Clare’s artistic tangle with a competitor

Clare with camera time and a big lead early in the Oberhof relay after prone shooting

IBU Cup 5: Arber, Germany

The second week of IBU Cup racing took place in Arber, Germany. Emily came south from Oberhof, Alex east from Craftsbury by way of Munich, while Hallie, Raleigh, and the rest of the team hopped west across the Czech Republic from one border to another; Arber lies just five kilometers from the German-Czech border.

The six locations where GRP biathlon team members raced in Europe in January. Arber is right on the German-Czech border.

The first race in Arber was a Short Individual, a race format new to the IBU. While the traditional Individual event is contested over a 20km distance for the men and a 15km for the women with four shooting stages and 1-minute time penalties for each miss, the Short Individual was instead a 15km race for the men and 12.5km race for the women with 45-second time penalties. As was the case here, new race formats, timing systems, rules, etc. are often introduced on the IBU Cup before they make their way to the World Cup (Of note: in addition to the Short Individual, two other new race formats, the Super-Sprint and the 60-person Mass Start, are on the IBU Cup schedule for this season). Moving forward, the Short Individual may be used when a longer loop is not available or when weather conditions make holding the longer Individual event excessively cumbersome. The Arber course was quite different from that in Poland, yet simple: leaving the range, biathletes descend and descend, then turn and climb and climb all the way back to the range to shoot or finish. Another noted ‘bonus’ of racing the Short Individual in Arber was that it spared the team from the venue’s notoriously challenging longer loops used for the standard Individual, which descends even further and hence climbs even higher. All in all, the athletes gave the Short Individual positive reviews. “I think it’d be great for TV,” said Raleigh, who finished the event with a career-best 40th place. “To be successful you have to ski a little faster and shoot faster than you would for a 20km individual, where you basically ski like it’s a marathon and shoot slowly.” Hallie added, “I liked skiing the shorter 2.5km loops.” Alex also had a solid performance in the event, finishing 38th, his best IBU Cup finish of the season so far. After the Short Individual, Arber racing wrapped up with a sprint and pursuit over a cold, sunny weekend. A big highlight for us was Hallie finishing 14th in the sprint, skiing fast with clean shooting!

Outside of racing, Arber had delicious German food at the “Family Club,” a spot at each venue where athletes can grab a bite to eat after training or racing, named for what the IBU has branded “The Biathlon Family”. The food at the Family Club varies from venue to venue and usually reflects the local cuisine. Also of interest, JOSKA glass factory, located in Bodenmais (the largest town near the Arber venue) and a sponsor of the race, hosted a glass-blowing event for the wax techs and coaches, where it became clear that glass-blowing must resonate with Mike, as he shattered the competition. The team was also entertained by the Czech stores just across the border; Raleigh described them as “a real-life Ali Baba” where you’d find logo-less products, likely extras produced from the same factory as their branded look-alikes.

A long climb in Arber
photo by Raleigh

Mike blowing glass at the factory in Bodenmais!

Continued in Part 2!

UTAH! with GRP Biathlon

29.Oct.2018 by Hallie Grossman

Greetings from the American West! The Green Racing Project Biathlon Team is currently two weeks into a three-week training camp in beautiful Utah. The team has enjoyed cool, sunny mountain weather to complement productive altitude training at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center. Soldier Hollow, the site of the cross-country ski and biathlon events at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, boasts a paved rollerski loop that covers much of the same terrain as the on-snow course and abuts a 30-point biathlon range. Because the venue will be hosting the BMW IBU Biathlon World Cup this February, Soldier Hollow has been revamping its biathlon setup with new targets and an upgraded coaches box, fencing, and facilities. Needless to say it’s a great time to be training at Soldier Hollow!

 

The camp’s purpose is twofold. First, it serves the team a great opportunity to rollerski on the Soldier Hollow paved loop, carry the rifle, and practice rollerskiing with shooting combination training (or ‘combos’) alongside the national team. While the team may miss running the Craftsbury singletrack, there is no better way in the offseason to prepare for winter competition than rollerski biathlon, especially on World Cup-worthy terrain. “It’s not nearly as terrifying as I thought it would be,” says GRP member Hallie Grossman in reference to the Soldier Hollow paved track’s technical downhills. As for the opportunity to train with the national team led by new USBA women’s coach Armin Auchentaller, first-year GRP biathlete Kelsey Dickinson adds, “It’s been really exciting to work with the national team and I like how we’ve been able to do a lot of things together. They’re very inclusive and welcoming.”

Kelsey Dickinson in the midst of a standing shooting stage on Soldier Hollow’s 30-point range.

The second purpose of the camp begins this week as round two of World Cup Rollerski Trials commence on Tuesday, October 30 with a sprint competition (7.5km for the women, 10km for the men). Competition continues Wednesday with a second sprint competition and wraps up Friday with a mass-start (12.5km for the women and 15km for the men). Each athlete’s three best results from the five total trials races will be tallied to select the US teams for the pre-Christmas World Cups and IBU Cups. The five trials races include the three this week and the two from August trials races in Jericho, VT (from which a maximal of one result can be applied toward selection). Says GRP biathlon coach Sam Dougherty of the team’s readiness, “Probably the second or third day here there was a moment when I realized, ‘Yeah, we’re really ready for these races and for the season’.” That said, a challenging course awaits the athletes, including the famed climb up Hermods Hill. Raleigh Goessling, a first-year GRP team member who celebrated his 27th birthday over the training camp, stressed the importance of maintaining energy and carrying momentum through all the transitional sections as key to a successful race plan.

Raleigh Goessling shooting during rollerski combos at Soldier Hollow. SoHo will host a BMW IBU World Cup in February.

In addition to rollerski-biathlon training, the team has relished the opportunity to explore Utah’s natural playground, for example running the Mid-Mountain Trail in Park City and rollerskiing up Mirror Lake Scenic Byway in the Uinta Mountains.”It has been such beautiful weather since we’ve been here and the Mid-Mountain trail really captures the grandeur of the west and the cool train-running opportunities that Park City has to offer,” says Dickinson, adding her greatest challenge for the trip has been balancing the need for recovery at altitude (Midway, UT sits at 1700m) with her desire to train for hours and hours in Utah’s high alpine landscape. When asked for her highlight of the trip, GRP summer athlete Johanna Talihärm offered, “Definitely hiking Timp[anogos], it’s the closest I’ve ever been to [the summit]… unfortunately we had to turn back because of darkness.” Add in a few quality strength sessions, delicious home-cooked meals, and the excitement of a Red Sox World Series title, and the team calls it a successful training camp.

Hallie, Kelsey, and Johanna on Mt. Timanogos. 

 

Kelsey, Raleigh, and Hallie skiing above 10,000′ on the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway.

 

Jake, Raleigh, Hallie, Kelsey, and the snow after the team rollerskied up to the Bald Mountain Pass via the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway.

 

On the Mid-Mountain Trail above Park City: Bridger Biathlon Club athlete Kelly Kjorlien, Kelsey Dickinson, Raleigh Goessling, and Jake Brown take in the sun, and the view.

 

The view may be a little more brown than the Green Mountains, but the big sky views are worth celebrating.

 

Team dinner as seen through the eyes of Coach Sam Dougherty.

After Friday’s final competition the team will wave farewell to Utah and fly home to cozy Vermont on Saturday. Everyone is anxious to get the racing season underway and return home, where hopefully they will soon be skiing on snow! Yeehaw!

GRP Biathlon Summer Recap

4.Sep.2018 by Hallie Grossman

By Raleigh Goessling

It has been a busy summer for the GRP biathlon team. Three people joined the team, preparations for the season where undertaken in earnest, and athletes put their summer form to the test at the US Summer National Championships.

New Additions

Jake Brown is originally from Saint Paul, Minnesota where he grew up skiing for Minnehaha High School and the Loppet Nordic Racing team. He went on to ski for both St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and Northern Michigan University. The highlight of his collegiate career was an All-American finish in the 10k freestyle at 2016 NCAA’s. After graduation, Brown began competing in the sport of biathlon. He raced on the 2017-2018 IBU Cup Team and is currently a member of the USBA Senior Men’s Development Team. Jake has a BA in Biology and credits towards a MA in Exercise Science.

 

Kelsey Dickinson is a native of Washington State and spent her early years in Winthrop, WA racing for the Methow Valley Ski Education Foundation. She took post-grad years with Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation and Maine Winter Sports Center before attending college at St. Scholastica. She graduated this spring with a dual major in Philosophy and Natural Sciences. Dickinson qualified for NCAA’s three years while skiing at Scholastica, finishing 25th in the 15k freestyle in 2017. She has also competed many times at World Junior Championships for biathlon and on the IBU Cup

 

Raleigh Goessling is also a Minnesota native, growing up in Esko, MN. He raced for Minnesota Biathlon and then the Maine Winter Sports Center as a biathlete before attending University of New Hampshire (UNH). As a junior biathlete, he represented the US at World Junior Championships five times and was a member of the Junior European Championship team. While at UNH, Goessling qualified for NCAA’s twice and had four top 5 finishes in EISA races. His biathlon career highlights include five US Biathlon National Championship titles and a 2nd place in the sprint at 2017 IBU Cup Trials in Mt. Itasca.

 

June/July

With the full team at the Outdoor Center, summer training began in earnest. The cross country, biathlon and U23 summer athletes trained together throughout the summer, taking advantage of the strong training group in Craftsbury. Summer shooting training focuses on accuracy, range procedure and the first phase of shooting and skiing training. The biathlete’s ski training closely mirrors that of the cross-country team.

Early season OD roll/run in the Jay Peak area

Long run on the Long Trail

Early season uphill running time trial. All the girls in blue!

Boys after the Loon Mountain Race

Bounding intervals

Late August brought about the Race to the Top of Vermont. Another sort of racing fun!

Jericho

The highlight of the summer, for the biathlon team, is the annual US Summer National Championships. This year, the event was held in Jericho, Vermont on August 11th and 12th. The competitions are used as part of US Biathlon’s selection process for European Racing.

Summer Nationals kicked off on August 11th with a sprint race. In the Senior Women’s event, Susan Dunklee was the top GRP finisher placing 2nd. She was joined on the podium by Kelsey Dickinson in 3rd. Emily Dreissigacker placed 5th with only one standing miss. She was followed by Clare Egan in 7th, Hallie Grossman in 9th, and Kaitlynn Miller in 10th. In the Senior Men’s race, Jake Brown finished 8th with Raleigh Goessling close behind in 9th. Akeo Maifield-Carucci placed 11th and Alex Howe finished 14th, despite two broken rollerskis.

On Sunday, the biathletes competed in the mass start race. Susan moved up a step on the podium winning the race with 85% shooting. She was joined on the podium by Clare who placed 3rd also shooting 85%. Clare was followed by Kelsey in 4th, Emily in 8th, and Hallie in 11th. In the men’s mass start, Alex had a strong race making his way onto the podium in 3rd. He was followed by Raleigh in 8th, Jake in 9th, and Akeo in 14th.

Kelsey

Emily

Hallie

Susan

Jake

Alex

After these races, the US Women’s National Biathlon Team visited Craftsbury for a weeklong training camp. The GRP women’s team participated in the camp.

For now, the GRP Biathlon Team is back in Craftsbury, preparing for the fall.

 

Fall Preview

In early September the team will travel to Lake Placid, New York to train with the US Biathlon National Team over the course of a 12-day camp.

October will see the team head to Heber City, Utah for a 3-week training camp. The highlight of this camp will be the final round of rollerski selection races, which will determine which athletes will travel to Europe to compete on the IBU Cup and World Cup for the first period of winter competition.

In addition to training, GRP biathletes are involved in planning and promoting the Outdoor Center’s Fall Festival, which will feature (among MANY other events) a mass start running and mountain bike biathlon race on October 6th. Also, on offer at this event is a novice race, which gives people with no biathlon experience an opportunity to try out the sport. Learn more about this event here.

For more frequent updates on the GRP Biathlon team, please follow the team on Instagram and Facebook.