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.
At 21 years old, Maddie Phaneuf was named to US Biathlon’s A-team for the first time this year. Originally from Old Forge, N.Y., she now makes her home in Lake Placid.
Phaneuf finished fourth in the youth sprint at 2014 World Youth and Junior Championships in Presque Isle, Maine; this season she notched three top-10 performances in the junior competitions in Cheile Gradistei, Romania. She has two World Cup starts to her name, and with the retirement of Olympic teammates Hannah Dreissigacker and Annelies Cook, is looking for more.
1. Biggest change in your life in the last five or so months since the ski season ended?
I became an Aunt! My first niece was born during my last set of races for the 2015-16 season back in March, so that was definitely the biggest change.
2. Biggest change in your training?
I got sick a lot this summer, so I think the biggest change would be trying to modify my original training plan in order to get back to where I need to be. I would say I’ve been trying to do a lot of volume, along with technique work.
3. Major areas of improvement you’ve seen so far?
My shooting has improved a lot since last season. I’ve been hitting a lot of my shooting goals, with most of my 60 shot tests being above 500 points, along with setting the team personal best of 556 in our French Test (the best possible score is 600). So I’m excited to see how the percentages are this race season!
4. Whom you’ve been working closest with this offseason (coaches or training partners)?
Clare Egan and I have been training a lot together this summer. Susan Dunklee is here too, but she just bought her first house over in Vermont, so she’s been spending a lot of her time there!
5. Best trip in the last five months (and why)?
Our three-week training camp over in Germany. I had never been to Europe during the summer, so it was a much different experience and fun to see athletes that I normally only see in the racing atmosphere. Bavaria is a beautiful place, go check it out if you get the chance!
6. Favorite cross-training?
Rock climbing! I just got into it this summer, and can’t get enough of it. So much fun, and a great physical and mental challenge.
7. Favorite non-athletic activity or pastime this summer?
Does shopping count?
8. Song that was your jam this summer?
Hmm..I’m quite the music lover, so I jam a ton. I guess I will say “Youth” by Glass Animals
9. All time favorite race moment?
The Individual race at Junior World Championships in Romania this season. I think this might also qualify for “most frustrating race moment” haha. I finished 5th, with 2 misses (so that added 2 minutes to my time, we don’t ski penalty loops in the Individual) but I was less than 2 minutes back, therefore, if I had at least 1 less miss, I would have won the race. So that’s a little frustrating to think about, but it was definitely an amazing feeling seeing that I was right there with the best Junior athletes in the world. I had a smile on my face the instant I crossed the finish line, and didn’t really come off for the rest of the week.
10. First thing you pack in your bag when you leave for Europe?
Underwear. You never want to forget your underwear…
11. Venue/event you’re most excited to visit this season?
I’m hoping to qualify for World Champs in Hochfilzen, Austria!
12. Who will win the men’s and women’s World Cup titles this year?
I’m going to bet on Martin Fourcade and Darya Domracheva.
13. Biggest sacrifice you feel you’ve made choosing this career path?
Giving up the typical “college life” right after high school. But I don’t regret the career path I chose…being able to travel the world racing in a sport you love and meeting people from different countries is pretty rad.
14. If you could change one thing about your sport, what would it be?
To have more of the country involved and interested, more athletes participating, and more World Cups in the USA.
15. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
My usual…two slices of whole wheat toast, with jam and fried eggs (over medium) on top! Water and some fresh fruit on the side.
16. In 5 years, I’ll be ____?
Either preparing for the 2022 Winter Olympics, or finishing up a college degree.
17. In 50 years, I’ll be ____?
71…wow! Hopefully spending as much time outdoors with somebody I love, adventuring the world, helping the environment, and being a badass.
Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.