It’s only mid February, but most of the season’s biathlon races are over. 8 World Cups are already done. Most recently, we were racing in Kontiolahti, Finland. In spite of the brutal cold, the team had some of its best results ever with a 6th place mixed relay and 5 athletes in the top 16 of the sprint. Unfortunately, I had one of my most challenging weeks of the season trapped in my hotel room with a cold. I only raced the sprint and it was not pretty. However, I still think Kontiolahti will be one of the most memorable World Cups of the year.
Best of luck to Ethan, Tara and the rest of the World Junior biathlon team as they prepare to compete next in Kontiolahti!
Finland was pretty darn cold with temperatures barely legal for racing. In spite of that, in the nearby town of Joensuu where we stayed about 1/4 of pedestrians traveled by bike. Brrrrrrr!
Walking to the race start (l to r: Annelies Cook, Sara Studebaker, Canadian Zina Kocher). The athlete shuttle bus got stuck in traffic and most teams had to walk almost 2 km to arrive at the venue with an hour to race start. Temps were below -16 degrees celsius, hence the protective physio tape many athletes wore on their faces. (photo: Zina Kocher)
Following the races, the family of Mari Laukkanen, one of the Finnish athletes invited our team to their lakeside cabin where they have 3 saunas. They fired up the traditional smoke sauna for us (pictured above) and cut a hole in the ice of a nearby stream for us to jump into. (photo: Annelies Cook)
Our hotel in Joensuu
The crazy Finn who coaches us: Jonne Kahkonen (photo: Sara Studebaker)
Jonne's family (who now live in Lake Placid) returned to Finland for a visit during the Kontiolahti World Cup. His wife, Erika and son Elmo made up an awesome cheering section. (photo: Annelies Cook)
Next up: We just arrived in Italy where we will spend a couple weeks preparing for World Championships. They will be held in Ruhpolding, Germany.