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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.

Oberhof: A German Biathlon Mecca

2.Oct.2017 by Hallie Grossman

After wrapping up German Nationals in Arber, we headed to Oberhof for the thing that every winter sports athlete looks forward to: snow! None of us had ever been to Oberhof, so we weren’t sure what to expect. As we neared Oberhof, an Eastern European feel descended upon us. After eating dinner, we clearly decided that we had left “pasta eating Germany” and entered “potato eating Germany.”

Biathlon is popular here. A mini version of the stadium in the tourist info building.

After a rainy day off, where we did some wandering around the town, and eating delicious pastries at a local “backerei,” we were all excited to ski. As the rain poured and the wind whistled around us, we eagerly put on ski clothes, switched from rollerski to snow baskets, scraped our skis and went skiing! The track in the tunnel is a horseshoe shape, with two way traffic. The whole loop took me about eight minutes skiing easy (it probably took the Russians who ripped around the whole time abut five…) but had two short climbs, two longer climbs, and even an icy downhill.  They have a snow making system inside the tunnel, so the snow was clean, plentiful, and awesome.

GRP train in the tunnel.

 

That afternoon, we headed to the range for some (rainy) running combos. It is a 30 point range, as all World Cup venues have, but has massive stadium seating, reminiscent of a football or baseball stadium in the US. It reportedly can hold 11,000 fans.

View of the stadium from a bit of a distance. Definitely doesn’t do the magnitude of it justice.

 

The next afternoon, as the rain continued to fall, we were prepared to spend another session working on our toughness and durability, but were pleasantly surprised when we found out we would be able to shoot in the indoor shooting range. Yup, indoor range. After meandering on a small road above the regular range and ski tunnel for a bit, we got to an 18 point range, with a building next to it, with pavement coming out of either end. We had found the eight point indoor, rollerski ski accessible range. Definitely not something you see every day. It’s perfect for enduring inclement weather.

Dry shooting on a rainy afternoon.

The next day, we were treated to another Oberhof speciality- yet another indoor range! This one was in the ski tunnel! This allowed us to truly practice biathlon in the summer. This range had four points and was situated midway through the tunnel, so it was easily accessible.

Intensity combos all indoors.

We also spent a little bit of time exploring Oberhof’s running/ recreation trail system. I’m always impressed by how many recreational paths many European towns have, as well as how highly trafficked they are.

Oberhof provides a biathlete (or a skier) with all the tools necessary for successful training. Never before have I been to an area with five biathlon ranges (there was a single point somewhere else in town). They even have facilities to accommodate inclement weather, which makes me think the weather often leaves some to be desired (Susan confirmed this).

The biathletes are all now back in the U.S., gearing up for October trials- some training in Craftsbury and others in Lake Placid.

Biathletes take on Germany

12.Sep.2017 by Hallie Grossman

While the skiers are becoming very well acquainted with the Snow Farm landscape, the biathletes stayed in the Northern Hemisphere and are training in various locations around Germany. Some we are familiar with and others are new.

Our first stop was Ruhpolding, where we enjoyed beautiful summery weather for the first few days. Our first order of business upon arrival was picking out a mountain and hiking/ running up it. We then checked out the range and rollerski loop. I thought the loop was awesome, as it featured all very skiable hills, but others deemed it not all that exciting. The coolest thing about the range was the amount of spectators that were in the stands on a random training day- in the middle of the week in the middle of the summer. I continue to be amazed at the popularity of biathlon in Europe.

A happy crew on top of Rauschberg

Didn’t luck out with the sun quite so much on this hike a few days later, but we’re all smiles!

The National Team is here as well, and we have teamed up with them for several training sessions. One particularly memorable one was the L3 rollerski up the Rossfeldstrasse, a sustained climb that took upwards of an hour along the German/ Austrian border. We were greeted by gorgeous mountain views as we neared the top. We could also see the Eagle’s Nest, a refuge of Hitler’s during World War II.

Mike cruising into the mountains

Susan and I cooling down after the long interval

We also did some rainy rollerski combo intervals on the range with the National Team, where it was feeling a bit more wintery. This workout called for breaking out the wool shirts, full race suits, rain pants, and vests.

Shooting time!

One afternoon I heard the sound of clip clopping horse shoes on pavement and polka music outside my hotel room. I went to investigate and turns out it was the annual St. George Day ride and horse parade, where people ride or drive their horses through the streets of Ruhpolding out of town to St. Valentine to be bleesed then parade back in. This tradition of horse owners and farmers asking for God’s blessings of their horses dates back to the 16th century.

Many horses and people decked out in traditional garb.

We wrapped up our time in Ruhpolding with a great hike up the Sontagshorn. In typical GRP biathlon European hiking fashion, it became a two-country-slightly-longer-than-expected adventure, but still really fun!

Really neat waterfall. It rained a lot in the several days before this hike, so the water crossings may have been wetter than usual. Regardless, I waded through the rivers and didn’t try to keep my feet dry.

The view from the top. Snowy mountains in the not-so-distant- distance!

Crossing back into Germany from Austria on the return.

Next stop: Arber. We had all been here during the winter within the past few years, but didn’t know what the rollerskiing would be like. The first day we had a nearly deserted roller loop and range and discovered that the paved section was on the mellowest part of the winter courses. Over the few days we were there, we saw the evolution from quiet training facility to bustling venue packed with racers and fans and sponsors for the Deutsche Meisterschaft Biathlon or German Biathlon Rollerski Nationals, which serve as important qualifying races for the Germans and good (hard) competition for foreign racers. We did two races, a sprint and a pursuit. Both the men’s and women’s fields were deep, with lots of speedy and sharpshooting Germany juniors, World Cup and IBU Cup regulars, and foreigners from Switzerland, Finland, the US, and other countries.

Start of the women’s pursuit. Doesn’t really capture the fans, but there were LOTS.

Emily started in front of reigning World Champ (many times over) Laura Dahlmeier in the sprint! (Picture from Alex’s Instagram).

Bodenmais, the town that we stayed in, is known for their glass. We did some touristing and stopped in several glass shops during our down time. Rumor has it this is where they make the crystal globes for World Cup winners.

Mike’s wise owl friend

We are know in Oberhof for the last leg of our trip, skiing on SNOW! More on that later, but here’s a sneak peak.

Mike in the tunnel