• Maddie Phaneuf

What biathlon has taught me...

...besides the whole skiing and shooting part.

Navigational skills are very useful in a foreign country

This used to intimidate me so much that I would feel sick with anxiety the entire 24 hours leading up to my travel day. Now I can breeze through with no stress. Luckily I discovered that most airports have english subtitles on their signs, but I've also learned some important lessons the hard way. One thing to keep in mind if you're traveling through Germany with a rifle, you must have the original German rifle paperwork (not a copy). If you don't have this, you ain't going nowhere, seriously. You should also learn a few key phrases in the foreign language before you travel. Google translate has been a lifesaver for me.

Your bag must be under 50 pounds

Otherwise you'll be leaving things behind at the airport check-in (yes, that's happened to me...) I've also learned how to tell if said luggage is under 50 pounds even when you don't own a scale. This was another thing I used to stress about in my early days. I learned to ditch the wheeled ski bag, because that alone would be about 15 pounds. I also learned which items were necessary and which items weren't. Turns out, when you pack for 2 weeks or 2 months, you essentially need the same amount of clothes.

It's okay to say "NO"

As an athlete, I need to constantly be thinking about my health and recovery. This has turned me into a person that has to turn down events or outings that I would enjoy. For example, if I'm really tired after a long week of training and I feel a cold might be coming on, I will definitely have to say 'no' to going out and grabbing a drink. The risk of getting sick is too high, and not worth the beer.

Food doesn't have to be unappetizing

Whether it be the food at the Olympic Training Center or food from a foreign country, if I want to race well, I have to eat well. This may mean going to the grocery store and picking up a few key food items. If you don't like what you're being served, try adding to it to make it better!

Napping is not only for preschoolers

Some days if I have an intensity session in the morning, I can't make it through the afternoon without a nap. The key for me is to keep it under 30 minutes, that way I don't feel groggy when I wake up. It's just enough sleep to feel reenergized afterwards! That being said, there have been some days where I'm so exhausted that I end up napping for over an hour...we're not all perfect.

Being the center of attention I used to be terrified of talking in front of crowds and having all eyes on me. I still am a bit uncomfortable with it, but I've gotten a lot better at public speaking these past few years. I have had the opportunity to speak at a fundraising event for Maine Winter Sports Center (now known as Outdoor Sports Institute), have been the keynote speaker at my former high schools Spring Sports Awards, and have taught children the impact of climate change at a few different schools for Protect Our Winters. They were all different experiences, and each one has made me more and more comfortable getting up in front of a crowd and speaking.

Competitors vs teammates

One of the hardest parts of biathlon is constantly being pitted against your best friends. Being in this sport for so long, I consider every teammate and every biathlete in this small community a friend of mine. You end up creating these connections with people during the long training hours of the summer and fall. Then suddenly, it's the winter, and that friend of yours turns into your competitor. Sometimes the two of you are vying for the final spot on the World Cup team, or you may fall under that four year cycle where you have to battle for that precious, Olympic team spot. It's certainly an interesting balance and we all have to go through it.

Blogging And last but not least, how to blog! I wouldn't say I'm a phenomenal blogger by any means, but having to put content up on the internet has made me keep up with my writing. There are definitely some weeks where I just throw some photos up and call it good, but I like to think there have been a few great blogs in my archive! If you happen to have a favorite post, it would mean a lot to me if you wrote a comment or sent me a message. It's always nice to hear feedback, so please feel free!