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Archive for February, 2013

My First World Champs

20.Feb.2013 by Hannah Dreissigacker

I just finished competing in my first-ever world champs in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.  Susan wrote a great blog with a lot of good pictures, but I figured I should add a few more of my own! I really wish that there were a better way to capture or describe the feeling of being in a stadium filled with 20,000 screaming fans, bright blinding lights, and huge jumbo-tron TV screens, as you try to get in your zone and do your final warming up before a race. Its exhilarating!!  I tried taking a few videos from the start pen to give you all a sense of what its like. Here’s a link to the best one, which is of the start of the men’s relay.

Here I am with the mascot monster of Nove Mesto at the opening ceremonies for the biathlon World Champs.  I got to shoot at a fake laser target when our team got introduced and walked through the stadium.

Here I am with a German biathlon fan, who apparently comes to almost all of the world cups.  There are many die-hard fans like this in crazy outfits, though “santa-claus” definitely stands out as one of the real characters.

My sister took this screen shot from the live online footage of the sprint race.  I cleaned my prone shooting, so I came in to standing in a pretty good position.  But then I missed 3 standing shots, which was too many misses!  I was 71st and didn’t qualify for the pursuit.


In the 15k individual, I had my best world-cup race yet with a 56th-place finish.  Though I was pretty happy with my results and also happy just to be there, racing in World Champs has just made me hungrier to race even more and get better.  It was also incredible to be there when Tim won a silver medal in the individual.  The team has such a hardworking and great group of coaches and wax techs, and to see how happy and proud they all were and to be a part of the celebrating was an awesome experience that really made me want to be a part of more future success.








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One day Sara and I ran up to this really cool old church that was up on a hill in Zdar nad Sazavou, the town where we were staying.  It was built in the 7th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The detailing on it was beautiful!

There was another type of beautiful art to be found along the path that I went for a short run on most mornings–beautiful graffiti all over many of the old concrete buildings and storage containers.  It made me want to try graffiti art, and added color to an otherwise very gray city-scape.

























 Now the team is resting and training in Inzell, Germany for a week before we head to Oslo for another weekend of world cup races.  I’m excited to get another chance to try to put all the pieces together and have a good biathlon race!



Combine in Chula

17.Feb.2013 by Phil Grisdela

While the NFL combine doesn’t start until Wednesday, the lightweights here in Chula Vista finished off our ten-day camp with a combine of our own. After some great training on the water we got a chance to compete in the gym and on the track in 13 different events. While most of the work this week was rowing-specific, the facilities at the gym were really impressive. All of the Olympic weightlifting stations had a camera on them with a time delay so that you could watch your technique after finishing a set to see what you need to improve on.

The gym at the training center

The combine started with a max watt test on the ergs, and from there went to the more classic exercises: bench press, vertical jump, bench pull, pull ups, a sled pull and tire flipping.

This thing weighed a lot more than I thought it would, flipping it over 15 feet was definitely a challenge

50kg sled pull for time

After finishing up in the gym we headed to the track for the medicine ball toss, sled push, 40 yd dash and mile run. While lightweight rowers might not be making a big stir on the NFL combine scene any time soon, this was definitely a great way to finish off the camp.

A signed surfboard from the Olympians who trained here before London last year

It’s been a great trip here, being able to train with some of the top athletes in the country and take advantage of the facilities here will hopefully pay dividends in the racing season to come. Now it’s back to Craftsbury for some more winter training before we go down to Clemson to get back on the water in preparation for the first National Selection Regatta at the end of April.


Nove Mesto World Championships

17.Feb.2013 by Susan Dunklee

World Championships here in Nove Mesto are drawing to a close and it has been a great couple of weeks! Tim’s silver medal, the first biathlon championship medal for Team USA since 1987, highlighted a strong week of racing for our crew. I feel very happy about my races; although the Sprint and Pursuit didn’t go great, I had a great Individual, and had my best relay legs yet.


I competed in our Mixed Relay as the second leg and enjoyed the opportunity to ski head to head with Germany’s Miri Gössner and Belarus’s Darya Domracheva. In our anchor leg, Leif put on an exciting sprint finish with Slovakia and we ultimately finished 8th. (Photo: USBA/Nordic Focus)

This year, the Individual fell on my birthday. Last year at World Championships, I hit 19/20 of my targets in the Individual race and placed 5th. That was a very special day indeed. I was hoping for another good day but I tried to stay relaxed and be realistic. With biathlon, the harder one tries to have good day, the less likely it will pan out well.


(Live stream screen shot captured by Linda Jager).
This year I finished 15th with 2 penalties, one of my best results of the season. With that result, I met the pre-qualifying criteria for the Olympics. It was an awesome birthday!

Sometimes life’s most interesting memories come from moments of misfortune. In the last loop of the Individual, I fell on a downhill and broke the end of my rifle stock. Biathlon stocks are highly personalized, they take weeks to custom order, and can be costly. Breaking one is a major bummer. The positive thing about breaking a stock at World Championships is that the expertise needed to fix it is on site.


Benjamin from Anschütz worked overtime to help get mine repaired before the Women’s Relay. (Photo: Armin Auchentaller)


We just needed some wood, but since there was none to be found we salvaged some off the end of a broom handle. L to R: Benjamin, me and my coach Armin. Armin told me this was one of the “most interesting projects” he has seen in all his years of coaching and “will mean something 21 years from now.” (photo: Armin Auchentaller)


I think the broom helped me “clean”- I hit 100% of my targets in the next race, a first for me on the World Cup.


This week we had more familiar faces from home! This time the Dreissigacker Family came to cheer. It was Hannah’s first World Championships!


After our World Championships races finished, we could devote all our energy to cheering our guys in their last races. Thanks for lending us the face paint Czech guys’ team!

Our spirited crew


We were all very surprised by the number of spectators that came to watch the races- it felt a lot like Ruhpolding or Oberhof. The line of people streaming out of the stands post race just kept coming. Thanks for creating such a positive atmosphere Czech! (photo: Sara Studebaker)


The womens team’s biggest form of entertainment this past week came from a “Hollywood makeover” website. Hannah put her photoshop and graphic design skills to use on many of our staff and teammates. We weren’t sure how it would go over at first, but luckily our guys thought it more hilarious than offensive.


That’s when we decided that we should showcase some of our coaches’ and techs’ portraits on our waxroom door. Finally, a bigger female presence on the staff!


Another great form of entertainment was checking out the downtown shops, which were full of fun clothes and styles. Annelies just had to get this wig.


One of the last mornings in Czech we made breakfast with the Swedish girls. It was a lot of fun being able to cook and share!

Chula Vista Update: Forecast of 75 and Sunny

15.Feb.2013 by Phil Grisdela

We’re getting to the end of a great training trip here in Chula Vista, CA. It’s been a great opportunity to find some great water and great weather (high of 75 here today) with some of the top lightweight rowers in the country. One of the greatest things about the Olympic Training Center so far is the athletes that are here. Sitting at the dining hall after practice and meeting Olympic medalists and hopefuls in different sports reminds us of what it’s all about. Bringing some of the top athletes in our sport together also means that every practice has an extra level of intensity and while Rio is four years away the work definitely starts here.

Even the signs on campus try and keep people focused

Most of the training has been in straight fours (a four man boat where each rower has one oar), which is one of only two boat classes that compete in the Olympics for lightweights. We have had a mix of technical rows, steady state aerobic work and all out race pieces, but when nobody wants to be behind all of the workouts end up being a bit of a race. It’s also not just lightweight rowers out here, fellow GRP rower John Graves showed up for a few days to row with his brother and there are members of both the heavyweight men’s and women’s olympic team that are around trying to take advantage of the great water and facilities.

In between practices we also had a chance to rest in the “AT&T Athlete Connection Center,” a lounge outfitted with TV’s, pool tables, ping pong and plenty of other distractions.

Kyle taking a break

Kyle taking a break

A view of the lounge with motivational quotes and pictures of US Olympians on the walls

A view of the lounge with motivational quotes and pictures of US Olympians on the walls

Olympic pool table?

Olympic pool table?

We also have been breaking up the rowing with a little cross training by running on trails in the nearby hills and even playing football a couple times. While lightweight rowers may not be the stereotypical football type we have been able to get some fun games in. Tomorrow is the last day of the camp and we’re going to finish it off with our own rowing combine, complete with max watt test, bench press, mile run, tire flipping and other feats of athleticism (or lack thereof). After all this it’s going to be back to as much more skiing in Craftsbury as we can get before heading down to Clemson to get back on the water to prepare for the racing season.