• Maddie Phaneuf

Start of the Season

Since my last post, so much has occurred! First things first, US Biathlon ended up hosting our first National Team Camp of the season in October. We traveled to Craftsbury, VT for a two week camp and ended with some time trials. Unfortunately, they had to cancel the World Cup/IBU Cup rollerski trials due to COVID restrictions...but we had a great camp nonetheless. I was extremely grateful that our shooting coach, Matt Emmons, could travel to the USA during the camp to help us work on our shooting positions and technique.

Overall, I really enjoyed the camp! It was nice to feel like we were all a part of a team again, even though we had to continue to socially distance. We ended the camp with a few time trials, and they went really well for me! At the end of the training camp, US Biathlon named athletes they wanted to travel over to Europe for a pre-World Cup training camp. I was excited that they chose me as one of those athletes, as that would be the next step into ultimately qualifying for the World Cup.

Photo by John Lazenby

After the training camp, I returned home to Lake Placid and spent the last week or so packing up my apartment, visiting with my parents, training with my teammates, and getting ready to fly over to Europe. Our original plan was to fly to Austria for the pre-camp, but since the COVID cases had increased there we switched our plans to have the pre-camp in Finland (since the cases are much lower here, and it's closer to the first World Cup location).

On top of Whiteface a few days before traveling to Finland

Skiing up Whiteface

Last mountain bike ride of the season, at home with my mom

The travel day to Vuokatti, Finland was very long. My teammate Clare and I drove to the Plattsburgh airport, flew to Washington, DC, where we met up with a majority of our teammates to then fly to Frankfurt, Germany. After we arrived in Germany we had another flight to Helsinki, Finland and then ONE MORE flight to Oulu, Finland...where we then had to take a bus for 2.5hrs to our final destination, Vuokatti, Finland. It was tiring, and stressful, especially since we're still dealing with a global pandemic. Thankfully, most of the airports I flew through were quite empty, and everyone was required to wear a mask. Upon arriving to Vuokatti, I've had three COVID tests, two of which were negative and one we're still waiting on results (I had it this morning).

The Adirondack Mountains from the plane window...will miss this place

Very empty flight from Plattsburgh to DC

Anyway, enough travel and COVID talk! I've been in Vuokatti, Finland for about two weeks now, and it's been pretty good. The weather hasn't been amazing, mostly grey and rainy, it has snowed a few times which has been nice! I'm very thankful that the venue has a huge stockpile of snow, and we have had plenty of km to ski on since arriving. There's a 30 point range here as well, which has been amazing to train on. All in all, the training has been great - it's just the weather hasn't been quite wintery enough...but what can we do.

Finland is dark...the sun sets at 2:30pm

And the sun rises for an hour, around 8:30am - this photo was at 9ish

Finally, a coach! Armin on the left, with Clare in the middle, and then myself and Chloe to the right working on ski technique

We ended our training camp with two time trials, which were to help US Biathlon make their final decisions on who to name to World Cups 1-5. They were also going to put into consideration the data from the coaches throughout the entire training camp. The first time trial (6.9km Sprint) went okay for me, but not great. I ended up shooting 1,1 and was last for the US women, unfortunately. The next time trial was a ~10km Short Individual (30 sec penalties per miss) and I was much happier with my performance! I shot 0,0,0,1 and placed first for the US women (not including Susan or Clare, as they didn't race). I was very proud of my shooting, especially during a high-pressure scenario. US Biathlon named the World Cup team yesterday, and I made the roster! Deedra Irwin filled the fourth spot, and I filled the fifth spot - though we ended up having a meeting with our coach and it seems like the fourth start spot will be a little more fluid. Basically, they'll let us both race occasionally and depending on how we perform we may get more or less race starts. I'm just thankful that I'll get a single race start, as the fifth person was perviously told they aren't guaranteed a race start at all.

Happy to be on skis! In the ski tunnel at Vuokatti

So, that brings us to today. I'll begin packing my stuff up and get ready to travel to World Cup 1 in Kontiolahti, Finland...which is only a short drive from our current location. I'm really excited to take part in the first World Cup, as I have never done this before! I will try and update you more frequently, as I haven't been the best at updating this blog this year. If you're looking for more current updates, please follow my Facebook page of my Instagram! Also, if you're more into videos, check out my teammate Paul's YouTube channel. He's done a great job documenting a biathletes life, and I think it's worth checking out!

I'll finish this up by thanking my amazing sponsors. Without their support I really wouldn't be able to continue this career. If you live in Old Forge, please consider supporting these local businesses: Blizzard Manufacturing, Old Forge Hardware, DiOrio's Supermarket, Burkhard Evans, Adirondack Homes & Real Estate, and the TOW Bar Inn. My other non-local sponsors include: Lost Nation R&D, Honey Stinger, Rossignol, Montucky Cold Snacks, and Khala & CO. And of course, my biggest thanks to NYSEF Snowsports for taking me in and supporting me over the last two years, I really appreciate everything they've done for me!

- MP