A Day in the Life of...Benjamin Weger
Most biathletes live somewhere that is conducive to their training. Benjamin Weger has the perfect setup: cycling, running and rollerskiing in the mountains, a three-minute drive to the shooting range and most importantly, a prime fishing spot nearby.
Center of My Life
Weger lives with his parents much of the time in the 16th century family home in the 500-person village of Geschinen. On a mid-July day, he explained, “Look around at this nature; it is just beautiful, green most of the year, perfect. I go out the door and do all of my training right here in nature, more or less alone and come back to home-cooked meals. The most important thing is; this is my home. I grew up here; my family and friends are here, it is the center of my life.”
Swiss Muesli and Espresso
Morning finds Weger up at around “seven or half past, unless I have a really long three hour or so training. Breakfast is always Swiss muesli; it is not possible everywhere in the world, so at least some cereals, bread, honey and butter. I have an espresso. That is almost more important than the cereals! I am out by 8:30 and usually home by 11:30.”
On a sunny Tuesday, he drives 2 km to the Nordic center, a repurposed army base for a cross-country running combo workout, with the four-target shooting range to himself. “Other than a few local juniors, I am the only person who uses the range. They were here last…and did not paint the targets.” He paints the targets, sets up two shooting mats and the spotting scope. In the calm summer weather, zeroing is ten shots, no changes. The typical one-shot and five shot drills follow. After a twenty-minute warm-up on the forest trails, he is ready.
Running and Cowbells
“This is part of a moderate training day; 6 X 5 minutes at a level 4 with two shootings and about the same recovery. I am at the end of a training cycle; next week is a holiday week, fishing trip to Siberia.” Weger likes to run, “but I prefer the trails in the mountains.” The loop starts on a paved trail, and then he veers up into the forest, past the cows with bells clanking as they graze before jumping a fence 50 meters before shooting.”
Fans and Lunch
Half-way through training, a couple of cyclists veer off the trail to watch. After the last standing target closes, the man approaches, asking in French, “Weger; Benjamin Weger? Bravo, I have seen you on television.” After the mandatory selfie, Weger admits, “That is the first time that ever happened here! But it is nice, nice to be recognized.” Three more uneventful intervals, a 30 minute cool down and training is done.
After a quick shower, he relaxes in the yard before a lunch of pork chops, potatoes, zucchini, salad and freshly baked berry and apricot fruit tart, prepared by his mother. “I am a lucky guy. I do not have to cook for myself. I can cook a little. Cooking is not the problem; I hate the cleaning up.”
Nap or Fishing?
Most athletes take an afternoon nap, but this is not always on Weger’s agenda. “When I am in a training camp, I take a nap, but when I am at home, there are many things to do… The lake is not too far away, so if the morning is not too hard, I go down for some fishing, one or two hours, go home for an hour’s rest before the second training.”
Today it is fishing at the lake, which he knows like the back of his hand. Fly rod, two boxes of flies and he is ready. As people swim and paddleboard a few hundred meters away, he peers into the water, “It is pretty windy today, harder to see the fish. This is a good place, all catch and release; many streams in the mountains are overfished, because people take out all of the bigger fish.”
After about five minutes, he spots a trout skimming just under the surface. One quick cast overshoots; the second is on-target, the fish hits. He plays the large rainbow trout for a few minutes, enjoying the game, until the fish tires and the biathlete nets him. A careful removal of the fly, a quick photo and the fish gently slides back into the cold clear water.
Relaxation: Tying Flies
Many athletes watch movies or go out in the evening after training. At home or at his girlfriend’s house, “I almost never go out. If the weather is good, I prefer to go fishing. It is all about fly fishing. It is not a hobby, but a passion, a way of life.” Even in winter, fishing is on his mind. “During the racing season, when I have a lot of time, I tie my own flies. If I have a bad race, I take my kit and tie some flies and my brain gets relaxed and I calm down. I am always thinking this fly is the one that I catch the fish of my life on!”
Rollerskiing and a Big Fish
Rollerskiing follows fishing. Starting at the statue of his distant relative who built the family house and once carried his horse across a blocked trail to get home, Weger is off on his classic rollerskis. Thirty minutes in the flat valley gives way to a steep climb up the Nufenen Pass. Passing over a stream far below the road, he stops and points down, “I fished there last week. I caught a big brown trout in that pool. I hope to go back there some time soon.” After 1:45, the day’s training is over at just over 2000 meters above sea level.”
Breathing hard, but happy with another good training day in the books, Benjamin Weger reflects on a big goal, “One World Championships medal; that is what I am working for every day. That is what motivates me and what I dream about…”