Just got to Antholz in Northern Italy for the last world cup before the Olympics. It has been a whirlwind biathlon tour of Europe over the past month. After the third world cup races in Pokljuka, Slovenia, I traveled to Jablonec, Czech Republic to train and spend Christmas with my girlfriend. We arrived in a snow storm and the weather looked favorable for good conditions. However, a couple of warm days and there was just a 900-meter loop of man-made snow. I trained there for a few days and then we hit the road again, in search of better conditions.
We managed to secure housing in Oberhof during the week of New Years – thanks to Tim and Andrea! It was a good week of training but I still had the Olympic qualification in the back of my mind. Three of the five available spots had already been filled and I was hoping to qualify for the fourth or fifth through the last trials races in Altenberg, Germany. USBA had planned to use the Altenberg IBU Cup (IBU Cups are the division of biathlon racing just below the World Cup) as the setting for their final selection for the last two men’s slots and three of the four women’s spots. It just so happened that the Czech’s planned to take their World Cup team to the Altenberg IBU Cup, so Zdenka and I left Oberhof and headed to Altenberg. The racing went relatively well and I qualified for the fourth position on the Olympic Team. No matter how prepared you are, how much experience you have, and how much support you are given, it doesn’t make Olympic trials any easier. But on the other hand, this was my fourth Olympic Trials (The Nagano Olympic trials were some of my first biathlon races) and I knew what to expect. Congratulations to Wynn Roberts, who qualified as well. The final men’s team will consist of myself, Tim, Jay, Jeremy, and Wynn.
From there, it was on to Ruhpolding. 25,000 people showed up for the five-day World Cup just south of Munich, Germany. The Sprint went poorly for me and I was looking for a better result. The Relay went much better. I used one extra round during the race and finally felt decent on the ski course, tagging in 5th, a few seconds back from Norway in 4th. Jay actually moved up to third during a portion of his leg. Ultimately, we finished in 6th just a few seconds off of 5th and 4th. The main positive point is that we were finally knocking at the door of the elusive relay medal. The Olympic Relay will be the next relay race for the four of us.
And now, I am back in Antholz for the final week of world cup racing. This week is more geared towards training and preparing for Vancouver. This means, depending on what my coaches and I think is best for top results at the Olympics, I may or may not race. I am looking to perform at my peak in just over three weeks. After this week, Tim and I will head to Vancouver Island for a short training camp prior to team processing and entrance to the Olympic Village.
I would like to thank everyone who has helped me get to this point – my family, my coaches, US Biathlon, and my sponsors. The next month will surely be one of the most important times of my life. I am looking forward to it and I feel very fortunate to have enjoyed such loyal support throughout the last two decades of my athletic life. See you in Vancouver!