LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Nothing says the beginning of October like a grueling combo workout for the U.S. Biathlon squad. As if five to six repeats around their 3-kilometer rollerski loop wasn’t enough, they started Thursday with an all-out race to the top of the course.
According to women’s coach Jonne Kähkönen, the prelude was something new this year after several of his athletes said they wanted a faster first lap in races. The answer: get the blood pumping and heart racing faster before you start.
That meant starting at the bottom of the Olympic Jumping Complex — way down in the lower parking lot — and racing one another to the top (mass-start style). Four men (Tim Burke, Lowell Bailey, Leif Nordgren, and Russell Currier) and three women (Susan Dunklee, Hannah Dreissigacker and Annelies Cook) all started at once, along with special guest Andrea Henkel, a German biathlete and Olympic gold medalist (and Burke’s girlfriend). Henkel, 35, did the initial workout with the group, but without a rifle for this trip, opted to double pole around the rest of the morning.
With a 10-minute rest beforehand, the combo workout (5 or 6 x 8-minute laps around the relatively new course, with prone and standing shooting in between) involved two to four lactate readings per athlete. It marked the end of a tough three-week training block, and Kähkönen said this workout is done once every intense training period. Next week, athletes can enjoy some rest before flying to Utah for the last set of rollerski races in Soldier Hollow Oct. 22-24.