Lanny Barnes Returns for 4th Consecutive Olympics… as an Artist!
This year a special group of athletes has been invited to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games; they will not compete for medals, but with the aim to “further strengthen the blending of sport and culture at the Olympic Games and in-between." In order to do so and reconnect with the idea of Pierre De Coubertin, inventor of the modern Olympic Games, that through art and words, the Games will ensure their greatness. Four former Olympians have been invited to South Korea to showcase their art in connection to the sportive environment of the Olympic Winter Games.
Among these four, only one comes from winter sports and is a familiar face in the biathlon family: Lanny Barnes. She and her twin sister competed together in Torino 2006, but also made history in 2014, when Tracy selflessly gave Lanny her spot on the Sochi 2014 Olympic Team after Lanny fell ill and wasn't able to complete all the races to qualify. Tracy was given the United Nations UNESCO International Fair Play award and the US Olympic Committee Inspiration Award for her selfless act and demonstrating the true Olympic spirit.
Lanny’s return to the Olympic Games, her 4th consecutive, is just as extraordinary, given the novelty of the art project: “It means the world to me to be selected for this program. I have had a love for art just as long as I’ve had a love for skiing and shooting. I love to share my passion for detail and life through my art. My mom was a great artist but she never showed her artwork to anyone besides family and I definitely got that artistic love from her. My favorite kind of artwork to do is wildlife. I love capturing animals on canvas or paper and showing the dramatic side of nature.”
Lanny will be asked to bring her craft closer to the athletes in the Gangnam Olympic Village, demonstrating a close bond between art and sport. However, she feels the challenge will not prove too hard, since, in her case, the connection has always been there. “My artwork played such a huge role in my biathlon career. My twin sister and I would sell my art on the streets to help fund our biathlon careers!”
Coming back to the most important sports event that happens every four years felt like an unexpected return home, the kind that gives a mix of contrasting, yet good feelings: “I am so excited about going back to the Olympics only four years after I retired from biathlon. I didn’t know if I would ever have the opportunity to go again. It will definitely be a different experience than competing but I am going to approach it with the same drive and determination that I used when competing to produce the best artwork that I can for The Olympic Art Project.”
As we discovered by talking to Lanny, her first participation, even if not an official one, to the Games happened four years prior to her debut in Torino, when she attended the home Olympics of Salt Lake City. Ever since, she feels like a lot has changed, not just in her life, but in the evolution of the sport too. “For me personally a lot has changed since my first Olympics games in 2002 when I was a forerunner for the biathlon and cross country races. That was where I attended my first games as a spectator having just narrowly missed making the team. After that I competed in my first games in 2006 and it was a great learning experience, by 2010 I felt more comfortable and was able to get a pretty good result."
"Then 2014 was special for me because my twin sister gave up her spot on the Olympic team so I could go, that experience was hard to top or replace and now I’m going in a different role but still promoting my life’s work and the Olympic spirit. As far as the Olympic Games themselves changing in the time I have been attending, the competition seems to have gotten more competitive and closer in times. The advances in technology have allowed athletes to go faster and train harder.”
So what will be the goal for Lanny during this Pyeongchang 2018 games? As a former athlete, it is hard to image she would not come with any and indeed, she has two. “The things I am looking forward to the most at these Games are promoting art through Olympic values in the #Olympic Art Program as well as cheering on my teammates in Korea that I raced with in 2014!”
Photos from NordicFocus
Art courtesy of Lanny Barnes