30. 6. 2015

MY ROAD TO THE OLYMPICS: Maddie Phaneuf „I’m going to do biathlon until I can’t do it anymore.“

She is OlympicsReady...
She finished 4th in the Junior World Championships, she owns Best Shooter Award, she became Junior women´s athlete of the year in the USA, she has courage, power, passion - all the drives for professional racing. But there is something missing. The funding support. Just to have a chance competing in the World Cup and go to the Olympics.
But you have the power to change it. You are not just ordinary fan anymore!
You are the privileged one that can send Maddie to PyeongChang in 2018. You can help her in her RallyMe campaign to get money for the next season.
Get to know Maddie´s journey better - check out this exclusive talk story we made for you.

- When I was little I always wanted to be a Veterinarian and just loved animals but I’m not interested in that career field now (I still love animals though!). I didn’t really grow up doing biathlon, and didn’t get involved in the sport until I was 15 years old. But I did start cross country skiing when I was 8 years old. When I was younger I didn’t really have “goals” besides just wanting to have fun and win races!

- I started biathlon when I was 15, but didn’t compete in a lot of races. I would say I began to think more seriously about biathlon when I was 17-18 years old. I went to the US Junior World Trial races when I was 17 and did not make the team. I think that was when I realized I wanted to continue competing in biathlon and prove to myself that I could be good in this sport. The following year I did not go to college and trained full-time for biathlon and ended up doing well at the Youth/Junior World Championships in Presque Isle, Maine. I’m glad I took the biathlon route.

- I love biathlon because it is challenging, fun, and takes a lot of dedication. It’s not like many endurance sports, because it adds the challenge of shooting at a high heart rate. It is a very fun sport to compete in and watch as well, and you get to go to a lot of fun/cool places around the world. It’s a sport that takes a lot of dedication to get to the elite level, you can’t just become a World Cup medallist one day. You have to work every day to get there.

- I really wish biathlon was more popular in the USA, and I’m not entirely sure how we can make it a more popular sport. I think even if we had better results people still may not know much about the sport. I think we need to have better marketing…but you also cannot do biathlon in a majority of the USA because of the weather. It just doesn’t snow in a good portion of the USA. It’s a big country, and I hope we can make biathlon become more popular.

©Photo: Jakob Ellingson

- The success I appreciate most is almost obvious, my 4th place finish at Youth World Championships in the Sprint in Presque Isle, Maine. This success really made me realize that I belong in this sport, and that I can succeed. It was also one of the first races I ever shot clean, so it was definitely a confidence booster, knowing that if I do everything right I can make it out on top. This was one of those results where it changed my mentality on the sport. I’m not here for a little while, I’m going to do biathlon until I can’t do it anymore.

-  I wouldn’t say that it was easy to get onto the US National team, because you have to prove yourself and show great results in order to be considered. I’m on the “X” team which is an elite development group, and it was a new team when I got named in 2014. I’m very thankful they have this part of the National Team, because this way I get to train with the “A” team and be around the National Team coaches at all training sessions.

-  I definitely feel like the rookie among most of my teammates! But I would say we all get along great and we consider each other good friends. Training is fun and competitive, and we have team dinners and get together every now and then. I think although I feel like a rookie, my teammates respect me as a member of the team. I would say that my shooting speed and accuracy are just as good as or better than the “A” team ladies. I just need to work on my ski speed and strength.

- Susan Dunklee and Hannah Dreissigacker had very great results this past season, and Annelies Cook and our newest teammate Clare Egan also had good results. Seeing them doing well makes me happy, and definitely motivates me to train harder so I can be competing with them for those results on the World Cup. They are a very motivating group of women and see that I want to get to their level and are great to work and train with. 

- I seem to be more motivated to train if I’m training with other people. Training is always more fun with a group. I also tell myself that I will not get better results this winter if I do not do the training I am supposed to now!

- I would say that neither of the World Cup stages I raced last season were really my best races but I felt very strong and skied faster in Ruhpolding during the relay. My shooting in both Ruhpolding and Antholz were not very good. I was pretty nervous, but I think now that I have experienced the World Cup atmosphere I will be more prepared for future races and will shoot better. My favorite race is the Pursuit, because you can see where you are compared to the rest of the field and it’s just a very fun race. So I would be excited to compete in a World Cup Pursuit if I get the chance!

- My results were better in Presque Isle than in Minsk for a few reasons. First of all, I think the Junior field in Minsk was a bit more competitive than the Youth field was in Presque Isle. Also, I think having trained in Presque Isle and knowing the course very well helped a little bit but I wouldn’t say that it was the reason behind my success. I am excited for World Juniors this upcoming season, I would like to achieve better results than I did in Minsk.

- The Olympics in 2018 is the ultimate goal, and I believe if I keep training hard and continue to progress on the international race circuit, than I will be a contestant for the Olympics. It’s one of those goals where it seems to be just big enough where it scares you a little bit, but I am really excited to see my progress between now and 2018.

- I haven’t thought too much about funding support, I was going to wait and see how this RallyMe campaign works out for me. And if I need more support than I will figure that out later. At this moment I do not believe I could make a nude calendar like the Canadian biathletes. Maybe if the other US women were wanting to make one. But I do not believe they want to do that. 

The proud winner of the Best Shooter Award from 2015 USBA National Championships

- I would love to be a fiddler, but I do not actually know how to play the fiddle (I really want to learn!). I can play the piano, clarinet, and the saxophone. I am currently trying to learn the guitar as well. I really enjoy playing music and singing. I could imagine playing music as a way of getting money, but I’m not sure how much money would generate from that. The only genre of music I can play well is classical music on the piano and I can play pretty much any type of genre with the clarinet and saxophone. I am hoping I can improve my guitar skills because I really enjoy listening to music similar to that of Ben Howard and Nathaniel Rateliff. I think it would be fun to perform like them.

- As of right now I don’t think I could leave my country and change nationality because of better funding and the certainty being in the A team. One of the best parts about racing internationally is representing your home country. Maybe if biathlon did not exist in the USA in the future for any reason, then I would compete for another country. But right now, no, I could not do that.

- If somebody could give me the whole amount in my RallyMe campaign, I think I would consider them my main sponsor, and would promote their business if they had one. I really don’t know what a good prize would be for $14,000. We would have to discuss it and figure out a good prize. I have not thought of that before, because I find it very unlikely

Teammates and friends. Maddie with Hannah Dreissigacker, Susan Dunklee and Annelies Cook.

 - I enjoy the beginning of spring, coming out of winter it’s nice to finally have some warm days but still be able to ski. I don’t really like summer that much…I am not a fan of hot sunny days, unless I am sitting on the beach and relaxing. I also hate bugs, and during the beginning of the summer the bugs can be very bad here in the Adirondacks. 

- Rollerskiing can be fun, and is a great way to train in the summer. I think I am a much better skier in the winter though, compared to summer biathlon racing. I am a lot better at rollerskiing than I was a few summers ago, but it’s still different than skiing in the winter. I would never change it for biathlon on snow. I just love skiing on the snow and shooting in the winter too much!

- My favorite national cuisine would definitely be Italian. They have such hearty and delicious meals, everything is so good! Since I live in the Olympic Training Centre, I do not cook for myself but I do enjoy cooking when I get the chance. My favorite meal to cook is a Tomato Basil pasta, it’s very easy to make and tastes so delicious. The recipe I usually follow is here: http://www.apronstringsblog.com/one-pot-wonder-tomato-basil-pasta-recipe/ 

- Here is my message for the young people that want to live their dream just like me: I started out just like you, I didn’t train much and was not very good at biathlon. You just need to put the time and effort into it, and you will see improvements. Just make sure you’re having fun and really enjoy the sport! I like the quote, “Don’t look for success, work hard. Success will find you.”

©Photo: Jakob Ellingson

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