The last season still is there, in their minds and in their hearts. It has been the best winter for the US Biathlon Team so far and if everything goes as planned it was just another step to the Olymp.
The results might have been great and good for the team’s confidence in itself. But being in professional sports for most of their lives the US biathlete knew that this last season wasn’t the important one. It was an important part of the road the team had been traveling for quite some years now but the real goal is just ahead.
It’s that upcoming Olympic season that counts and that will truly measure if the US team is really there where it seems to be: Among the top Biathlon nations.
"We want to take a step forward!"
Before the season starts next Wednesday in Sweden Team Manager Bernd Eisenbichler set the goals quite clearly. He expects a lot from his team and his athletes but he also knows that everyone worked as hard and good as possible during the last months to make the Olympic dream come true.
“We had amazing training camps with almost no health problems among the team members so we could really do all the quality work we wanted to do. With that last year behind us the goal is clear: We do not want to repeat that year. We want to take a step forward!”
And the bar has been raised quite a bit last year. With Jeremy Teela’s third place in the Vancouver World Cup and Tim Burke’s top ten spots during the season the men will have to ski fast and shoot good to repeat those results. Even the women’s team with a Top 10 result during the World Championships in Korea showed that they get closer to the dominating nations in Biathlon.
“The level in our team was high last year already. But we want to raise that and even stabilize it. We need that constancy in skiing and shooting to be at the top places even more. I think be made a big step forward on the shooting range thanks to the engagement of the former Italian coach Armin Auchentaller. We saw the results at the Summer-WCHs in Germany and that we have to repeat. And I am sure that we will be able to repeat them.”
The team behind the team
But it’s not just the athletes that will have to be on top of their game. It’s also the whole supporting staff that will need to work as good as possible to gain more top spots in the result lists.
“The whole team behind the team worked really well in summer. The coaches, our physiotherapist, the doctor and the wax technicians all will be working just as hard as everyone else in the team to make those results happen. The preparation of the skis will be a very important point especially during the Olympics. That’s why our wax technicians have been there four times already and I hope that they will have an advantage thanks to that. The snow in Whistler is not as easy to predict and to work with as this might be the case somewhere else.”
Next to that good preparation of the whole team, Eisenbichler also structured the team a bit different. The wax technicians will work together more individually with the athletes and there will be a more efficient task sharing. One important point is also that the whole team has to be in a good physical shape. Thanks to that even the coaches or the physiotherapist or doc can help out in the wax cabin or during ski testing.
As in every team the Olympic medal is a goal. And although the team doesn’t want to jinx it by talking about it loudly one can easily observe that the US Biathlon Team is in a more promising place than ever before.
The Olymp is just in front of them.
And starting next Wednesday we will see how far they can climb.