• Maddie Phaneuf

IBU Cups 2-5

Yet again, sorry for such a long hiatus from the blog! My last update was after the rollerski races in Utah this October - where I was named to the IBU Cup Team. A lot has happened since then, I'll break it up a bit for you by location, with plenty of photos!

November - December: Lake Placid, New York When I returned to Lake Placid after the races in Utah, I tried spend my final month in the US with my friends, boyfriend, and family as much as possible. My boyfriend and I went on a little mountain bike camping adventure down in the Catskills for a weekend, which was so much fun! I went skinning a couple of times with friends in Lake Placid and also Vermont. I did a lot of cross country skiing on home trails, and exploring some single track as well! I also got some holiday time at home, celebrating a mix of Thanksgiving and an early Christmas with my family. It was a lovely final month before my travels to Europe for racing. Oh! I also wrote an article in LocalADK Magazine about my involvement with Protect Our Winters, along with how climate change is affecting the Adirondack Park. If that interests you at all, give it a read here!

Sunset skiing at Heaven Hill!

Truck camping and bike riding in the Catskills.

November riding!

Skinning up the Whiteface Toll Road with my friend Caitlin.

Skinning up Jay Peak with my boyfriend and his friends! Repping Montucky Cold Snacks!

One of my final Lake Placid skis with Dev

IBU Cup 2 - Ridnaun, Italy

The first stop on my IBU Cup tour this winter - the beautiful Ridnaun! This is one of my favorite places on tour, because of the amazing mountains, food, and weather. Typically when we race here it's either snowing or super sunny - it's great! The races went pretty well. We had a Super Sprint to start with, which I had never raced before. It's new as of last season, a skier races a 1km loop then shoots prone (and can use 2 spare rounds for any misses), then another 1km loop and shoots standing (again can use 2 spare rounds for any misses) and a final 1km loop. The top 30 athletes who do the best go onto the 5km Super Sprint Final (same format, just 5 ski loops and 4 shooting stages). It's a very fast and challenging race - I didn't do too great and didn't end up qualifying for the final, but it was a nice warm up to the weekend. The Sprint went a lot better for me, I cleaned my race and ended up 25th! Then we had another new race format for me, the Mass Start 60 - it's just what it sounds like, 60 people all starting together, four shooting stages, whoever crosses the line first wins. It was a super fun race, and I shot 1,0,0,0 and ended up 27th. Overall I was very happy with my shooting during these races but the skiing was a little sluggish due to jet lag. Other fun things that occurred during this IBU Cup weekend: my friend and former roommate Ellie Hands came and watched the races! It was so nice to have a familiar face at the venue, and fun to catch up. We also went and explored the Christmas Market that was in the bigger town near our hotel - these are popular in Europe during the holidays. Basically just a ton of little shops selling holiday gifts, candy, food and drinks. Very cute, highly recommend.

Found a new friend on one of our runs.

Happy Maddie at the Christmas Market!

Very cute town for evening jogs.

The biathlon venue - look at that view!

The Christmas Market we went to. It was very cute, and helped me get into the holiday spirit.

View of the little town we stayed in, from a higher point during a run.

Thankful for these ladies!

Ellie - the number one USA cheerer in Ridnaun!

IBU Cup 3 - Obertilliach, Austria

The next stop on our racing tour was Obertilliach, Austria - a new venue for me! They had plenty of snow - and it snowed even more the final day of racing! It was a great venue, I liked the course a lot and there was a really nice warm up trail right along the river. The racing here didn't go amazing, but wasn't terrible either. The skiing was starting to feel better, but the shooting wasn't quite there. This left me with some mediocre results that I wasn't super satisfied with. In the Short Individual I missed 4 and ended up 50th, and in the Sprint I missed 3 and ended up 54th. I ended the weekend with a Single Mixed Relay partnered up with Travis Cooper. The conditions were really tough...heavy, wet snow making for hard skiing conditions, hard shooting conditions, and just being wet and cold! The snow got the best of me, and I missed a lot of shots on the range due to a frozen trigger finger. I was thankful that Travis and I could manage to keep from getting lapped though! Sometimes it's just not your day...but everyone has those days! Unfortunately the Mixed Relay ended up getting canceled to power outage from the snow.


I really love the look of all the wood on the buildings here.

Some fun company on the trail!

Pre-race warm up - glitter and all!

Racing the Short Individual

Photo by Detlef Eckert

Oh yeah, Paul got 2nd in the Sprint!!!

We hosted a holiday gift exchange one night with a few different teams! It was a great turn out, and fun was had by all!

During the cancellation of the Mixed Relay - rain gear was needed for all this wet snow!

As you can see...VERY snowy during the Single Mixed Relay

Photo by Detlef Eckert (I think?)

Christmas Break - Antholz, Italy

After the racing in Obertilliach there was a two week break for Christmas and New Years. Instead of traveling home, most of the IBU Cup Team and some World Cup athletes traveled to Antholz, Italy for a training camp. Unfortunately, I got sick right when I arrived. It started out as a head cold with mostly congestion, so I took a few days off and felt good to go! I skied super easy and was being very cautious getting back into training, but I guess I didn't do a great job because after a couple days of training I ended up developing a cough and was back to square one. This training block quickly turned into "Maddie laying in bed trying to get healthy" block. To be honest, it was really hard for me mentally to be isolated for so long, especially during the holidays. I had at least one day where I finally broke down crying, wishing I was just at home...but I did my best to enjoy where I was and managed to get outside every day (even if it was just for a 10 minute walk). By the end of the break I finally began to feel better, but my cough was holding on for dear life.

Little tiny church! I loved the color of this one.

The view from my hotel window - amazing!

Sick girls Maddie and Kelsey made it out of the hotel and skied! (walked on skis)

Little evening jog, enjoying that alpenglow.

Spent a lot of afternoons sipping hot chocolate on the deck soaking in the Vitamin D.

New Years Even sunset ski - good for the soul.

Thankful for this girl!

My favorite view in this valley.

And thankful for this one too! New Years Day ski in the sun!

Trying to find the joy even when I'm really down.

Happy to be repping NYSEF!

World Cup Trials - Arber, Germany

Following the break in Antholz all of the athletes that hadn't qualified for the World Cup based on their previous international results gathered in Arber, Germany for a few days in order to race each other for the final spots. This weekend of racing was the hardest yet for me this season. Coming off of not training for two weeks, and still having a lingering sickness did not bode well for me. I was mentally exhausted and frustrated with my skiing, it was hard for me to not beat myself up during these trials. The first race actually went pretty okay, I cleaned the Sprint but the skiing wasn't there and I ended up tied for 3rd. The second Sprint race I missed 3 I think (?) and just fell apart mentally - placing last. I didn't end up qualifying for the World Cup, which I was honestly okay with. I was mostly just frustrated with my health, the current state of my skiing, and not feeling confident in myself. It was a rough few days and I took zero photos, sorry!

IBU Cup 4-5 - Osrblie, Slovakia

Now we're caught up, and this brings us to the last week and a half of racing! Originally the schedule had us in Slovakia for IBU Cup 4 and then Poland for IBU Cup 5, but due to lack of snow in Poland they changed the schedule so we just stayed in Slovakia. The last time I raced at this venue was in 2018 for part of our Olympic Team Trials! Though they didn't have much snow, they had enough to hold the races and the course held up well during our time there. The weather was perfect - cold temperatures at night, and then sunny with temps around 30 degrees every day! The racing here was pretty mediocre to bad, unfortunately. I finally felt like my ski legs were coming back, but my shooting was just off. During the Short Individual I missed 7 :( and ended up 71st and then in the first Sprint I missed 2 and ended up 51st..not very stoked on this. After a few days of rest, the following week of racing started out with the Mixed Relay for me. This was actually a great race! I felt good on the skis, and the shooting was great - hitting all of my prone shots, and missing one in standing but hitting it with my first spare round! I was happy and excited for the coming races. the Sprint I cleaned my prone and felt great on the skis, but then I missed 3 in standing and had a hard time fighting on the last loop. I ended up 63rd, missing the Pursuit by 17 seconds. I was really disappointed in myself, and cried a lot after that race. It took me a lot of writing, crying, and a good nights sleep to move past it.

The view of the range from the stands.

Racing the Short Individual

Photo by Stanislav Spaci

Kelsey encouraged me to try a new creative outlet, which I am very thankful for! I'm going to do more drawings/paintings from now on.

Racing the Sprint

Photo by Stanislav Spaci

One of the best thrift shop finds - a ski onesie for EIGHT EUROS!

Yes, I bought it.

Just hanging out in Osrblie...

My next calling? Wax technician? Just kidding...all I did was hold that ski polisher thing down.

To be totally honest, this season has not been what I envisioned for my first season back. I have high expectations and high goals for myself, so it can be hard to accept that things aren't going as planned. This season has been really hard for me mentally, I haven't felt as strong during races when it comes to my mental strength. I've found myself thinking "Why am I doing this?" "It's easier to just give up, you've already missed so many targets" etc. Obviously I know this isn't good for ski racing! You need to be strong mentally in order to race well, so this is something I need to work on - where in the past I felt like it came more naturally. I'm not really sure why it's been harder for me this season, but I think it's great that I've recognized that it's a problem and weakness for me, which is the first step to finding a solution. I know that I am strong and capable of racing with the best in the world, I just need to figure out mental queues in order to remind myself of that during the race.

Anyway, this blog post became pretty lengthy, but it was a much needed update! It was also a great way to spend my time waiting around the airport. We have a two week break in the racing schedule, so I decided to head home for that time in order to recharge and train a bit with my coach Shane McDowell. I've been feeling pretty low since the holidays, and I think this is the best decision for me in order to get back to my happy and confident state of mind for the rest of the season. I'll travel back to Europe for IBU Cups 6-7, and possibly European Championships. Until then, I hope you all are having a great winter! Thanks for the support, especially my sponsors this season that have helped me get here!

Currently listening to: Good News by Mac Miller

- MP