Welcome to “17 Questions for 2017″, where we are catching up with American and Canadian national-team members before the beginning of the winter season.
Joanne Reid is certainly the newest newcomer in North America to have earned World Cup starts last season, representing the United States in Europe and Canada last season just six months after picking up the sport.
The CU Boulder graduate student had strong races all summer and fall at U.S. Biathlon rollerski trials and earned more World Cup starts for this season’s period one races. She most recently finished on the podium at the Frozen Thunder biathlon races in Canmore, Alberta.
1. Biggest change in your life in the last five or so months since the ski season ended?
My life has been one constantly shifting situation from the instant I picked up a biathlon rifle, so it’s hard to pick just one change. USBA gave me a resident room in Lake Placid starting in June, so I’ve been living and training there. Not full-time, since I’m still in graduate school, but a large chunk of time. It’s like sliding backwards on the life scale, right back to freshman-year dorm life. Roommates, hallway cameras, alcohol bans, dining hall, no overnight guests, the whole nine yards. I’m 24, and this is the first time in my life I’ve actually been treated like a potentially wild teenager (I graduated high school at 16 and opted out of the dorms when I arrived at University of Colorado). On the other hand, there’s something seriously incredible about living in a place with bonafide housekeeping that cleans your bathroom for you.
2. Biggest change in your training?
Structure. I’m not a person who plans or lives with a structured rhythm of life. I’m a very spontaneous and sometimes reckless person, and my training has always reflected that fluidity. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, I’m very in-tune with my own body and I know when I can push and when I shouldn’t, so I tend to rearrange workouts on the fly. My coach (Jean Paquet), has been trying to find a balance between the school-sport juggling act while also keeping me in a more defined training plan. To his credit, he has been able to rein me in and allow me the flexibility I need while I finish school, and also hasn’t had a aneurism from trying to deal with me. (Yet.)
I decided if I was going to go, I’d go all the way. If my coaches are going to put this much time into me, I owe them an effort back, so here’s things I’ve never done before that I’m trying out:
1) keeping training log
2) using a heart rate monitor
3) having technique that doesn’t look like a speedskater taught me to ski
4) hydrating… You want me to carry a rifle AND a drink belt?
5) recovery/actually addressing injuries instead of waiting for them to go away, like the ex-boyfriend you hope will stop texting you
6) not having to classic race, ever again (I’m really enjoying this 83% pole uproar over here)
7) keeping coaches (and USADA!) updated of my whereabouts, rather than wandering to a new city or state somewhat randomly
3. Major areas of improvement you’ve seen so far?
Jean and the USBA coaches have completely redesigned my ski technique. Because I’ve done so little technique work across the years (basically none, ever), I’ve had the same funky style forever. (Funky Style Forever would be a great name for a rock band). For instance, I came into Placid for the first time last October, and within the first three days found out my poles were an inch too short and had been since I stopped growing about eight years ago. I’ve been watering my race poles and keeping them in sunlight, but they haven’t grown any taller, so I think I’ll just have to get new poles for this coming season.
And then there’s that whole shooting thing. Since I only started a year ago, I still have a very steep upward trajectory. At the top, you can work for months and drop only a second off your range time. At my level, I can work for months and drop half a minute off of mine. But sometimes you hit things, sometimes you don’t. It’s all part of the ride. The CBC traditionally utilizes the “spray and pray” method when it comes to big races, so I just might make that my race motto.
4. Whom you’ve been working closest with this offseason (coaches or training partners)?
I’m lucky to have the coaches I do in US Biathlon, they’ve been incredibly patient with me and my long commute back and forth to school. When I’m home in Colorado, I’ve had some help from some of the BNS staff in trying to implement technique work that my Placid coaches have been teaching me. To have them on the same page and helping me focus on the right pieces has been a godsend. On the other hand, having those guys allied may have been the biggest mistake of my life. Big brother is always watching…..
Jennie Bender has been dabbling in biathlon, so it has also been really fun training with her in Placid sometimes. She has always been one of my biggest ski heroes, and is definitely a kindred spirit of mine.
5. Best trip in the last five months (and why)?
I got in my car and journeyed down to Santa Fe, southern Arizona, the Grand Canyon, and back across Colorado. I also drove my car from Colorado to Placid (yeah, that’s as long as it sounds), and I stopped to see my grandparents (and dog) in Madison along the way. I actually love to drive, and I love the heat (worst winter athlete ever), so I had a great time.
The best trip was NOT when I got stuck in the Chicago airport during the great Southwest server meltdown of summer 2016. I’m actually surprised I’m not still stuck there.
6. Favorite cross-training?
Mountain biking, rollerblading, speedskating drills. I have actually done intervals with all three of these training mediums.
7. Favorite non-athletic activity or pastime this summer?
I stood in one place and played a lot of corn-hole.
Don’t be ridiculous. Why would you do that? You only get one life. I ran around with my nerdy engineering friends chasing Pokemon on bicycles (yeah, I said it), brewery hopped at some incredible Colorado microbreweries, climbed some of the mountains in the Rockies, went on spontaneous road trips with my mountain bike and rifle into the Wild West, went to a rodeo, visited the home of a CU astronaut where I also shot an AR-15 (does that count as training?), jumped in Boulder Creek, drove across the country, body surfed in the Pacific. All of those things were my favorite thing to do in that moment, so I did them.
8. Song that was your jam this summer?
Heart’s Desire, Kip Moore (**country alert**) and On the Turning Away, Pink Floyd.
9. All time favorite race moment?
1973, when Secretariat won the triple crown, immortalizing himself as the greatest racehorse of all time and shattering the course record (he holds all three records to this day, in fact: the Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont stakes).
10. First thing you pack in your bag when you leave for Europe?
My rifle? Oh wait, I put that in the box. Skis in the bag, rifle in the box. You think packing for nordic is hard? Trying cramming all your stuff for three months into a rifle case that, you know, already has a rifle in it.
Other than that, my bag is usually about 30% socks. I love socks, especially the bike socks that come in the crazy designs. I also way overdo down jackets and vests because I don’t do cold well, but I have mastered the art of the rifle on the back, down jacket on backwards technique. Don’t tell me I don’t look cool wearing my down jacket backwards, because I know I do, and the hood keeps my nose warm.
11. Venue/event you’re most excited to visit this season?
The warmest, sunniest one. (Can you tell I grew up in California?)
12. Who will win the World Cup title this year?
Honestly, I follow the NFL (go Seahawks!) much more closely than I follow biathlon or nordic. Fourcade is always a good bet. Just as long as he doesn’t put on the wrong lip balm.
13. Biggest sacrifice you feel you’ve made choosing this career path?
Travel. Travel is ouch. Did you know Susan Dunklee hasn’t been in one place longer than fourteen days for the past four years? Can’t say I’m that extreme, but sometimes it feels like it.
I was stopped at the Canadian border the other day and border control asked me where I live. I was genuinely flummoxed. For the next five minutes, I proceeded to make border control my personal shrink, while I explained the woes of the transient and vaguely homeless, whilst the line of cars grew and grew behind me. I think this was really aided by my Californian license plate.
14. If you could change one thing about your sport, what would it be?
I would be a huge fan of switching to laser rifles, just because flying with a firearm that shoots live rounds is such an enormous pain in the ….. Arm.
15. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
I’m not really good at breakfast. Usually I roll out of bed five minutes before training, cramming a power bar in my face while I shove on my ski boots with a bleary-eyed, dazed expression. If I’m home in Boulder I don’t usually wake up before 10 or 11, so waking up for an 8am practice AND having time to eat when I shift to the Eastern time zone is an impossible task for me. Morning people…. Morning people are freaks.
I didn’t have coffee. I actually had to give up caffeine when I switched to biathlon, because it makes me shake. I know, cry for me.
16. In 5 years, I’ll be ____?
In the mountains somewhere, smiling at the sky. It’s actually pretty rare for me to know what I’m doing next month, let alone five years from now.
17. In 50 years, I’ll be ____?