• Maddie Phaneuf

World Champs Part Two

I have officially survived my first World Championships! It wasn't my best racing, but it was a learning experience. The past two weeks made me realize how much I need to improve in my ski speed in order to be competitive at the Senior level. I'm excited to get into the upcoming training season with new goals and new tactics on how to get faster, stronger, and overall more fit.

Photo by Nordic Focus

The 15 km Individual did not go well for me. It was around 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the race, and the snow was mushy and slow. My body just did not have the energy to get into race mode, and I felt like I was barely moving up the hills. I was happy to hit all of my prone shots, but I was really disappointed in my standing shooting...I missed 4 shots total, 2 in each stage. Of course some people may look at this result and think that it's not too shabby, but 4 minutes added to my already slow ski time pushed me back to 87th place. Full results can be found here.

The evening consisted of me trying not to cry in front of any teammates or coaches. The thoughts "I don't belong at this level", "I'm too slow", "Why am I not hitting targets?" probably crossed my mind a thousand times. It sucked. I'm not feeling super happy about my season, but I need to stick with it for a few more weeks. I'll talk about the plans for the rest of the season in a bit.

Racing the Individual

Photo by Guillaume Favre

The final race for me was yesterday, the 4x6 km Women's Relay. This is one of the most fun events we get to race in, so I was excited but also pretty nervous going into it. Our relay order was Clare Egan starting, then Susan Dunklee, Joanne Reid, and me as the anchor. Basically by the time I was getting tagged we were around 15th place. I got to hang onto a Norwegian girl for the first loop which was fun, and during my prone stage I missed 1 target from the clip and only used 1 spare round to hit it. I came into my standing stage in 13th place, missed 1 target from the clip and had to use 2 spare rounds to hit it...which was stressful. I ended up finishing 14th, being passed by Switzerland in the last loop. Full results can be found here.

Still smiling after the race!

Photo by Nordic Focus

The ultimate highlight of my time at World Championships though is that history was made for the US Biathlon team. We finally got our first World Championship GOLD MEDAL!! This is actually our first gold medal for the World Cup level, including World Championships and the Olympics. Lowell Bailey, our eldest member of the team, had a perfect race during the Men's 20 km Individual. He hit all 20 out of 20 of his targets, and narrowly won by 3 seconds. It was incredibly exciting to watch, knowing how much hard work he has put in for this moment. Lowell has been racing biathlon for as long as I have been alive, I'm pretty sure his World Cup debut was in 1996, when I was just 1 year old. I could go on and on about this, but you should just read some of these articles to get all the info.

Tomorrow is the final day of racing, the two Mass Starts. We have two women racing; Susan Dunklee and Clare Egan, and possibly two men; Lowell Bailey and then Leif Nordgren is the reserve athlete, meaning if somebody decides not to race then he will be the first one called up! Then in the evening the team and I will take a short drive to Inzell, Germany where we will spend about 5 days recovering and training before we head over to South Korea for the Olympic test event. I'm really excited to travel to Korea and see the Olympic venue. I have never been to Asia, and I'm sure it will be a crazy experience. It's about a 10 hour flight, and another 8 hour time change. Almost like traveling over to Europe again! I also think all of our races are at night, so that will be fun to race under the lights.

The World Championship Team

Photo by Nordic Focus

After that trip, we will fly back to Europe. There is a World Cup in Finland that I may be going to, but I haven't found out yet. They will definitely take 3 women because there is a Mixed and Single Mixed relay, but if I don't go to Finland then I will travel back home and prepare for Nationals which take place in Vermont this year!

One more thing, if you haven't already seen it, my teammates and I made a Valentine's Day video featuring a bunch of biathletes from around the world! Check it out below. And you can also check out my YouTube channel for other videos from World Champs. Thanks for all the support!

Currently listening to: Shed a Light by Robin Schulz & David Guetta & Cheat Codes

- MP