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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TALK STORY: Luise Kummer „Biathlon is a possibility to make my wishes come true”

Thumbs up for Germany...
It seems we have finally much more reasons for happiness according to German´s women biathlon after retirement of the legendary Lena.
She is truly one of the reasons. With previous two golds and one silver from the Junior World Championships in Presqle Isle she really enjoyed her debut in the World Cup last season standing on the podium twice with other German girls in relay. 
What comes next? Just get to use to see her smiling on the podium.
Introducing the next German talent ready to earn success after success. 
Enjoy the exclusive talk story of Luise Kummer.

- A good friend of mine asked me 12 years ago, if I´d like to join kind of test training for biathlon because we were looking for a sport in our leisure time. It was instantly much fun for us and I am doing biathlon since that moment.

- Biathlon challenges me day by day and pushes me to my limits to be the best kind of person I can be. It is a possibility to make my wishes come true with hard work.

- I trained hard and hoped for great results before travelling to USA for Junior World Championships at Presque Isle, but of course I didn´t expect two gold medals and one silver. I celebrated this success a little bit with my team, but also with my friends and family because these are the people who are always supporting and motivating me.

- I really enjoyed my first World Cup season with standing on the podium twice although each day was like a rollercoaster. I never expected that this season could develop as it did and I was kind of surprised of myself.

- The qualification for the World Championships in Kontiolahti was a big dream of me and I knew before it that my shape is not so good to run the relay although I was part of 2 successful relays in the World cup. I was cheering the girls on the track and was ´hanging at the edge of my seat´. I was so happy about them reaching the medal!

- Each athlete is standing at the start with the dream of winning World Cup title, World Championship races or the Olympic gold. But one of my biggest hopes is to qualify for the next Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.

- There are some days when it´s extremely hard to motivate, though it´s normal! In general I get my motivation because I´ve got a big ambition for reaching my dreams and goals.

- At the moment there is nothing that can influence me so much that I could lose my motivation for biathlon, but I could imagine if there would be for example a bad injury or if more training would be dangerous for my health.

- I can´t decide what I like more if prone or standing, but I prefer track with more straights instead of hills. I like to start very early in the race- you can concentrate just on your race and the chance to be influenced by the results of the other athletes is lower then.

-Talking about liking summer, it depends on the training that we are doing. It´s nice that we train really variable and versatile but it´s also normal that not everything´s fun.

- In my childhood I played flute and trumpet, but now I can´t play it anymore. My other hobbies are for example cooking, knitting and spending time with my family and friends. Of course that’s not enough to be my core business. After my sports career I may like to start studying.

- However I´m really interested in fashion and beauty I can´t say at the moment if I could be face of a fashion brand. I think it would depend on the brand but I never got an offer for something like that.

- I believe that every sportsman has special rituals before the race like testing skis, eating something and concentrate as good as possible.

- I have some idols but not specific ones. But my life motto is - "Give every day the chance to be the best day of your life."

- In my free time I love to brunch or have breakfast comfy and cozy with my family or friends and spending a lot of time outside when the weather is nice.

- Travelling is ok for me however it´s a lot of stress, especially if you are really tired or little bit kind of out of order. Surely I´m always happy to arrive at home after a long time and just come down as well as relaxing for some days.

- I really like Antholz because it´s such a beautiful and idyllic place, but I had been there some years ago before my World Cup races. I also enjoyed Hochfilzen and Nove Mesto na Morave.

- Referring to my sports career, my dream is to start at the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang 2018. Of course my dream for the future is just to be happy and healthy and to found a family some day.

German girls can be really happy after last season.

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TALK STORY: Laura Toivanen „Biathlon makes friends for forever”

In the land of thousand lakes...
There is no just one extraordinary biathlete in Finland. I am sure you got it. After her debut five years ago still fighting for best results tirelessly, despite injuries and sicknesses. With pure joy. With pure love. 
It was pleasure to make this exclusive talk with really nice girl Laura Toivanen. 
This is her story for you, not just as for fans - but as for friends.

- In the beginning I was just cross-country skier, I started my biathlon career at the age of thirteen. My big brother was first in my family to start with biathlon, then I followed him to the trainings and once I also tried shooting - I was so good at once that I started to love this sport immediately! We were three wonderful girls in our Kontiolahti Sport Club: Mari and Sarianna, who had been on my side since then and Mari Laukkanen is of course still in biathlon! We had fun during the years so I think that’s why we all came through teenage years and we all let ski in World Cups and World Championships!
- Firstly, I love biathlon because it’s a fascinating sport including two very different disciplines: skiing with rifle on your back is physically demanding, and then you need to shoot focused and be mentally strong. I love this combination and I enjoy the trainings. Secondly, it makes so much fun and it surprises me every time! Thirdly, I make friends for forever and this networking gives me a lot of experiences I would otherwise never get!
- I really enjoyed the last season, even though I didn’t get the personal best results that I should have because of being sick! It was really more than I ever expected, because the previous season was so difficult and I nearly wanted to quit. I loved to be back in World Cup after some years away from there. However, I felt immediately that I belong there when I saw the familiar faces. I have missed these biathlon scenes and friends! 

- We are really in the shadow of Kaisa Mäkäräinen if we check the media and sponsorships in Finland. Otherwise if I still lived in Joensuu I wouldn’t see Kaisa that much during the training season, so I wouldn’t see any shadows. We have a couple of girls beyond Kaisa and Mari who are quite equally fighting for the two remaining places in the World Cup. So I need to progress more and be physically more fit so that I could ensure my starting place in the World Cup.
- It is and it isn´t better for me to race without that kind of pressure as on Kaisa. Of course everybody is expecting the results from her but it’s just about how you handle this pressure. For me it’s always a place for surprise but I give myself pressure too, so then I try too much and I fail sometimes just because of that.
- Finnish biathlon popularity is only and just based on Kaisa. When she once retires, we will be in the brink of devastation. Sponsors and media visibility will be around point zero, I think, but of course I hope it won’t be!

- My biggest success in life is my sporty lifestyle, including my biathlon career of course, with my family and boyfriend around, supporting me whatever I do and wherever I want to go! I have nearly completed my Master Studies in sports medicine among biathlon career and I will be ready for the future whatever it brings me!
- Motivation comes from deep inside of me, it’s pure joy of biathlon which makes me wake up and train every time. Bad weather is just excuse. You just need to wear right clothes! If I don’t have mood for training, it might mean I’m tired of training or getting sick so I will rest instead. If you train for yourself you will succeed. I know also that if I don’t feel like doing that I will retire and do some other enjoyable things.
- I study sports medicine and I like it, it was also my natural interest because I’m an athlete and because once I would be the expert on that field and help people and other athletes to be healthy and prevent their injuries in advance. That’s also an important part of my future life after biathlon.
- Doping is, unfortunately, still part of endurance sports when people want to gain more than what they would naturally reach. I still believe there is a clean sport, and testing is a natural part of it! 

- I study also nutrition as a minor subject in the university so healthy food comes along with that. I like chicken-wok with nuts and spicy food. Above all I like to eat like an athlete should, but I still can eat dark chocolate or pizza in Italy! I cook a lot and nearly always, sometimes trying something new and I also bake if there would be just more eaters for my cakes!
- Now I work with my Master’s thesis in Sports medicine in my free time. So I wake up, eat a strong breakfast, write and read a lot of scientific reviews. I have lunch at the university, then a little break and maybe jogging or doing Pilates at the gym. Then I read or chill or hang around until I’m back in the bed.
- My favourite venue is Anterselva and Ridnaun. Both situated on the mountains and almost always sunny! Otherwise I would name Östersund, because I trained and lived there so it feels very familiar to me and it has special place in my heart.
- I like straights more than uphills because I have better technique there! I like prone more than standing postition, because I am more accurate there most of the time. I prefer being first in the start list not at the end, then I don’t need to wait and sit in the wax cabin and after my race, I can’t do anything more to the results, the others make it. 

- I love summer! I enjoy sun and get so much positive energy of the sunny clear blue sky! I have been swimming in the lakes since I was 4 years old and after the long and exhausting winter season I am planning a holiday somewhere where is warm and a beach.
- In the winter I would like to have holidays in the mountains with snow and sun that I like. Maybe Italian or Austrian Alps, with snowboarding, massage and spa. The second option is a holiday on some exotic Island or something with beach and green nature around me! Of course good company included makes it perfect! In the summer I like to go to our summer cottage at the lake (Finland is really country of thousand lakes). It’s really beautiful there!
- Horrible race includes often bad skies, shooting mistakes or something like that. But it’s unnecessary to be wise afterwards. I will do the needed to recover physically and focus more on the next race! Every day is a new chance (except pursuit race of course). Unfair play and complaining are things I don’t like and get me pissed off. If I have a horrible race, good food and a friend to talk with can make me calm and happy again. And of course music and sun!

- Music has been around me since I was a little girl. I have played accordion and piano since I was seven years old, and I have been also competing successfully in accordion. I don’t train often with music but I sometimes listen to music before race days and races. I like every kind of music, from classic to electronic music! Armin van Buuren is one of my favourites!
- The morning before my race starts with jogging and waking up with music and listening my body feeling. Then I try to eat good breakfast even though I’m not good at it! Then depending on what time is the race I take dry shooting and then we travel to the stadium. Ski testing, zeroing, warm-up and race. That‘s how does it go.
- I don’t have any kind of funny story or experience in my career! I think we should ask Dasha (Darya Domracheva)! Funniest stories are often related to athlete’s parties or travelling among biathlon venues, but I think those stories should not be published!
- If I were just an ordinary biathlon fan I would cheer for Andi Birnbacher. He is great and sympathetic athlete and I like to talk German to him! Otherwise I would cheer for Mari and Ahti, two finnish biathletes who has gone a long way to reach that level! (Not mentioning Mari is good friend of mine and Ahti my brother). Benjamin Weger, Lisa Hauser, Dimitry Malyshko, Dorothea Wierer - all of those are really kind and honest!

Laura with her teamates Kaisa Mäkäräinen and Mari Laukkanen after sprint in Oberhof 2011.

- I cried a lot for biathlon, on the day of World Championship women relay here in Kontiolahti when I was told to go home and I was not allowed to start at my home World Championships. I was just reserve. I broke down.
- I want to be perfect and that can cause problems. Sometimes I also waste my energy on wrong people and issues.
- I dream about a healthy life with a lovely family and an enjoyable job until I retire and about starting travelling around the world. If I am going to still succeed in biathlon it would be just positive extra on that. If not, I will be happy with all that I’ve reached so far. 


TALK STORY: Paulína Fialková „Biathlon is my love of a lifetime“

Keep your eyes open...
Just to be sure you don´t miss her next success.
So far you deal with her three medals from Winter Universiade 2015, two Junior World Champion titles in Summer Biathlon. So she really deserves your attention. Look closer to the lines below.      
To not miss anything from her life we give you this exclusive content. 
Meet the Slovak girl giving smiles all around the world - Pauluš Fialková and her talk story. 

- My biathlon story began when I was eight, as a hyperactive child my parents made me choose between two sports – swimming and biathlon. I didn´t like swimming so I forcibly chose biathlon. And it became the love of a lifetime.

- I wanted to be all sorts of professions when I was a child. Most often I was talking about becoming an astronaut but I never thought about professional sport.

- I appreciate every medal, every success. Even the 10th place from the World Cup has the same value for me. There is something special I appreciate on every success from my races.

- At the Winter Universiade I didn´t feel pressure at all, I like to race at home, I like it there in Osrblie and the fans were cheering for me highly.

Having fun at the Olympics in Sochi - with teammates Terka Poliakova and Martina Chrapanova

- After the Universiade people concratulated me, but nothing has changed markedly among my rivals in the World Cup.

- We have new coach for the season and I take that fact as a positive change. In general I shot better than the previous season although some races were really horrible. The worse is that I didn´t finish in the top 10 as in the previous year.

- I like summer biathlon, I am good on roller skis, I even have a feeling I am better on roller skis than on snow. But I can´t imagine summer biathlon as a part of Summer Olympic Games. Biathlon is winter sport, the top is in winter, there can´t be two tops during the year. There must be also time for hard training.

- I couldn´t bear the media critics during and after Olympics in Sochi. I had cried but I could pass through it and I became resistant. I try to not read the critics, not to react to it. There were and always will be such people - the best coaches of all time that are sitting and philosophing on the sofa. But they didn´t know how they helped me, I became balanced thanks to them. Things I can´t influenced I become reconciled with and that´s it.

- My first Olympics were my best and my worst experiences in my life. And I don´t want to talk about it anymore.

- My relationship with my sister is great I think, especially thanks to the sport. I don´t know if I am an idol for her but she followed me from early years until joining the national team.

- I can imagine I could leave my country because of better funding and training conditions. I understand those people that did it or will do it. I love Slovakia but I hate the chaos system that we have here.

- The tracks in Kontiolahti I like most. Already at Junior Championships it was good for me to run there.

- One year ago before Kontiolahti it was almost end of my season but at last I travelled there. I was angry, maybe because of that I made my best result so far.

- Successes motivate. It is worse to find motivation inside of yourself when it is not going well. I don´t deal with motivation for training, I take it as my everyday work that I do fairly. People go to work even if it is raining, don´t they?

- I would like to travel a lot but not through countries I already travel to. For me perfect holidays are with sea, sun, beach and regular rest. No ultra activities.

- I can imagine being the face of a fashion brand but I don´t think they would ask me exactly with such offer.

- I can be headstrong. It could be bad and also good habit. Every day I go step by step forward to my aims and I don´t give up. What are my weaknesses? They say I can be pretty nasty when I have a bad day.

- When I have rest day I sleep long, in summer I have breakfast on the terrace, turn on radio, read the newspapers, drink coffee. I go to the city with my friends for shopping, cosmetics and to visit hairdresser. All these things I like just like every woman. Then at the evening for example I like to have barbecue with glass of wine, to watch a film (without ads) and the next day I am ready to train feeling rested.

- My biggest fans are my family and my good friends, classically. I cheer for all Slovak athletes that takes it seriously. I cheer for everybody even the haters.

- I try to avoid the question about my dreams for several years. Of course my dreams are connected with sport but It is my secret. Otherwise I want to be fine in my life, to find what I look for and to be smiled, humble and satisfied with myself. 


TALK STORY: Federica Sanfilippo “I am living the big dream of my life”

The podium girl...
The podium really fits her. She had the privilege to stand there twice in December, both in Obertilliach after IBU Cup sprint races. Well, Italy rocks this season! I hope for more podiums for her, for more true big smiles. Be prepared for that and get to know something more personal.
This is exclusive story talk with Federica Sanfillipo we made for you. 

- I started with cross country skiing when I was 5 years old. But not for a long time, because there was a little shooting range near my house and I was always watching other kids shooting. I told my mother I want to try it too, so I began and I train until today. I think now I'm living the big dream of my life.

- When I was a child I wanted to be a helicopter pilot.

- My nicknames are Fedi, Fede, or Kikka.

- After the win and the second place in Obertilliach in December I had great feelings. I was so happy I made good job and I was able to see that hard work and believing in myself finally paid off.

Photo by Detlef Eckert

- I don't celebrate my successes. I think that I can celebrate in April when the season is over.

- I like Obertilliach in winter but especially in summer. My favourite biathlon venue is Antholz with its beautiful panorama.

- In general I'm satisfied with my season so far because in the beginning of the season I didn't know about my shape. I hadn´t been training for more than 1 month in June because of bike accident. I must also say that during the season I had a lot of up and downs.

- Family and friends who are waiting at home for me make me happy in my life.

- The crowd and cheering can sometimes influence my races. Especially when you are in the World Cup for the first time. In Oberhof it was so unbelievable for me to see all those people screaming and shouting. But at least I always try to be in my own bubble and concentrate on myself.

- Cross-country skier Therese Johaug from Norway is my idol. It's unbelievable in what rhythm she runs during a race but I admire also her strength and mental fighting that makes me watch her.

- I think my biggest supporter is my family but also my sport group of police team is one of my biggest supporters. I can practice this sport since 5 years now as a professional athlete with their help.

- Shopping is one of my weaknesses.

- When I'm not motivated for training I look for other people who would come to train with me and that helps a lot. My biggest motivation is my gladness to what I like and wanted to do.

- Of course my favourite food is Pizza. If I could I would like to eat Pizza every day but of course I cannot eat Pizza every day!! I like to cook meat and Pasta and normal food that doesn't need a lot of time.

- Sometimes I have "Italian mood" in my blood especially when I'm driving the car but what really makes me nervous is chaos and disorganization. But it doesn´t last for a long time because I can calm myself and smile then. 

 Federica loves to relax by the sea

- I think I have no other special talents. I don't know what I would be doing If I do not practice biathlon. Maybe something connected with sport. Maybe Sport professor or Physiotherapist.

-When my rifle and skis are taking rest I like to sleep long and doing some relaxing things such as going to the beautician or hairdresser.

- My favorite relaxing place is by the sea. There are a lot of dream places I would like to visit. For example Nepal, Caribbean islands and many others.