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Still Smiling (3/11/13)

 
Team USA at the World Championships in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic

Thanks for tuning in to my first blog for Team USA!  I am excited to be among the group of athletes blogging here this year, and I hope that I can provide some good entertainment.  My goal for these blogs will be to give readers some insight into one of Europe's most popular winter sports – biathlon.  Along the way, I will tell personal stories from both on and off the ski course as our team strives to win US Biathlon's first Olympic medal.

To bring you up to speed, here is a quick recap of the season so far:

My competition season thus far has been one of up and downs.  I started the season strongly and achieved my first podium in nearly two years before the holiday break.  I went home for the holidays confident that I was on track for a solid year of racing.  Unfortunately, when racing resumed, I struggled a lot with my health and I just could not seem to get things rolling again.

 
After finishing the race in second place at worlds
Me with my silver medal, gold medalist Martin Fourcade from
France, and bronze medalist Fredrik Lindstrom of Sweden
at World Championships

After a disappointing mid-season, I was determined to get things back on track for World Championships.  I had a great training camp proceeding world champs, and I went there extremely confident that I was in top form and capable of achieving a podium result.  To my surprise, the first two races were simply awful: my shooting was well below average, and I felt plain out tired skiing.  I was totally frustrated and confused as to why things were going so poorly.  Going into the third race, I had no idea what to expect.  Shortly after the start, I realized that my body felt much better and, perhaps, most importantly, my targets were falling.  I crossed the finish line in second place after the best race of my life.  This was truly something that I had worked towards since I was a child.  It's hard for me to actually put into words what this medal means to me, but know that I am still smiling weeks later anytime I think about that race.

I was immensely proud to win US Biathlon's first world championship medal since 1987.  I unquestionably could not have done this without a great team behind me.  To be at the top in biathlon, it takes perfect coaching, fast skis, committed training partners and so much more.  The US Biathlon Association has done a formidable job at lining up all of these intricate aspects, and they have provided everything that we as athletes need to succeed.  This has not always been the case, and it has been immensely rewarding to see our team evolve over the last seven years. We have developed from a team that competed, to a team that is a true medal threat.

After nearly five months on the road, I am truly looking forward to my own bed and spending time with my family and friends.  Spending so much time away from home is undoubtedly one of the hardest aspects of what we do, but it is one of the sacrifices that you have to make as an American competing in a predominantly European sport.  Hopefully our team can help change that in the future.

You can also keep up with me via Twitter and my website!