Oh what a season it has been as I have visited 12 different countries, flown across 16 different time zones, scored my first World Cup points, and witnessed one of the most successful seasons by US Biathlon ever. Since it has been a good 4 months since I my last post, there is a lot to go over. So, where to start….
Spent Christmas with family in Colorado, trained at Snow Mountain Ranch where air is thin, so thin. Drove to Denver to get on plane. Fly to Munich, high five teammates, get in van and drive. Drive to Italy. Arrive in Italy. Wake up in Italy, go ski and shoot. Race in Italy with so much windy, so windy it blows you away, literally. Like wind coming from every direction. Food still good, but it’s really windy. Like I am not kidding, it was really windy. First race no good, next two races better. Drive to Germany, lots of snow. Again, lots of wind, first race cancelled because so much wind, then only race once. Race goes well, qualify for World Cup. Hop back in car, drive to Italy. Gorgeous mountains, food still good. Wind decided to leave, sun comes out. Race at Antholz, so many people. People everywhere, loving biathlon, loving life. Race goes well, score some points. YOKO skis were fast. So fast. Hang out for a few days, then back in car, drive to Poland. Air smells like coal, lungs take a toll, but the arena had us all say ‘Woah’. Nice place to say the least. Get on skis, try to go fast like a beast. Race decent, qualify for World Championships, but first, race in Slovakia. Hop in van, bumpy ride. Roads are bumpy lumpy, van’s a bit jumpy. We arrive, we race, not too much to talk about. Hop back in car, drive to Austria. Mountains, still beautiful. Hotel, super nice. Pond has fish, catch a fish. World Champs, teammates so fast. Like, winning World Championship medals fast. Sharp shooting like Bob Lee Swagger. Celebrate and have fun, rest in Inzell. Go ski touring, absolutely amazing. Fall a few times, but I get back up, cause you’re never gonna keep me down. Then hop back in car, quick flight to Seoul. First class, not last, 1 pillow, no pillow case. Feel tall, my name is Paul, don’t own a shawl. Race bad. I died. Literally died on skis, but experience good, except for the dying part. Back on bus, fly to Finland, home of YOKO. Feels like Minnesota. Butter is better in Finland. Skiing, awesome. Racing, better. Drive to Helsinki, fly to Olso. Norway, beautiful. Expensive, but beautiful, especially the people. Holmenkollen, awesome. Race, dead, again. So I ride train, wake up in heaven, it’s called Sjusjoen. Go ski, have fun. Ride train back, celebrate with athletes, wake up early, and fly home. Home sweet home, but only for a few days. Drive to Vermont, race, race again, race one last time then over. Season finally over.
So that’s my season in a nutshell. As a whole, the season was awesome. I struggled at times physically, mentally and emotionally but I grew as a biathlete through the struggles. Heading into the season, I felt ready and capable of success, but didn’t know what that looked like. I went into the season with two goals; 1. A World Cup start, 2. Top 20 on the IBU Cup. Unfortunately, I did not accomplish my second goal but was able to not only score one World Cup start, but six. Even though by the time I raced my way on to the World Cup I was pretty tired and was not skiing my fastest, the experience I garnered while racing alongside the best in the world was priceless.
Traveling on the World Cup for the last part of the season opened my eyes to how much goes into each race. A huge thank you goes out to the entire USBA staff for taking care everything while on the road. Thanks to all the wax techs for always taking care of all of our equipment needs and putting fast skis on our feet. Thanks to the coaches for always helping us on the range and for being patient and offering words of encouragement even when things didn’t go as planned. Thanks to the rest of the supporting USBA staff for making sure the details don’t get overlooked to ensure we are set up for the best performance possible.
A huge thanks also goes out to everyone back home who helped me get to the World Cup. A huge thanks to all my friends and family who believed in me all along, and continue to moving forward. To those friends and family that don’t believe in me, you’re dead to me. A huge thanks also goes out to all the awesome guys at Finn Sisu who helps me get all the equipment I needed.
Looking on the past season is great, but I am more excited for the seasons to come. In my short stay at the OTC before heading to Vermont for US Nationals, there was a buzz in the air associated with the coming Olympic year. As awesome as it is to celebrate the incredible success of this past year, the focus remains on the future and the amazing opportunities it brings.
Me in the Alpensia stadium in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
My team mate Clare Egan and I upon arrival in Seoul, South Korea.
If you've never been to Dobiaccio, Italy, this is what is waiting there for you.
Poland was 'Da bomb'.
Racing in Martell, Italy.
Flying first class on our way to South Korea. It was nice, but made economy feel like a coffin afterwards.
We travel light...
View while ski touring in the Bavarian Alps.
This fish found it's way into my hands. Crazy how that happened.