Getting to know…Anamarija Lampič

On May 13, one of the worst-kept winter sports secrets went public: Slovenia’s Anamarija Lampič picked up a rifle and moved from the top echelon of cross-country sprinting to biathlon.

"Stina is my role model"

After weeks of speculation, Lampič followed in the footsteps of Magdalena Forsberg, Kati Wilhelm, 2022 Olympic Gold medalist Denise Herrmann and Stina Nilsson to leave cross-country for new challenges in biathlon. “Stina was a big role model for me in cross-country. I like how she runs, thinks, moves; maybe because she is tall like me, I see myself in her. If you ask my boyfriend who is my biggest role model, he would say, ‘Stina.’ I am always looking at what she does…She and Denise showed me and everyone that you can do a lot if your head is in the right place.”

Age ten: biathlon, cross-country and Kinder Eggs

However, biathlon was not a completely new idea. “One month ago, my mother discovered an old paper I wrote for school when I was around ten, “‘look what I found.’ I wrote, ‘when I am old, I want to compete in biathlon.’ I was like, ‘Wow!’ I did not remember this but I was a fan and fell in love with cross-country and biathlon.” She actually started cross country in kindergarten when a friend asked if Lampič wanted to “learn cross-country. It was outside and I love to be outside; that is how it started.”

In those early days, “I loved racing in Italy. They give prizes 1-10th place and it usually was a basket of Kinder Eggs and chocolate. I was always so happy to be in the top 10. Today I would be so excited if in some race, I would get a big basket of chocolate. That would be so cool!”

Right Time

Despite her love for cross-country, the just-turned 27-year-old feels the time is right for something new. “I loved competing in cross-country... I won a Globe and got three World Championship medals; being on top for three years was a big deal for a Slovenian athlete. I wanted an Olympic medal but it did not work out. It was sad, but life goes on. After the Olympics, I started talking more about biathlon. It’s like the last train to learn something new…If I had stayed in cross-country and got to age 30, I would regret it (not trying biathlon) …I know it will not be easy; you cannot learn to shoot in a month. It is like a child that cannot learn to walk in a month; it takes a year! I will just be patient and listen to the coach.”

Riding a Bike

It only takes a minute to realize Lampič, relating a childhood memory is dead serious about biathlon and determined to succeed, “Our family loves sports…My father was an Olympic cyclist. My one brother (2018 xc Olympian Janez) is a year and a half younger; we tried every sport together. He learned how to ride a bike before me and I was so angry. I went out behind our house in the garden trying to ride my bike all day. In the evening I called my mom and said, ‘look I learned it.’ We were very competitive and always fighting but it really was fun doing all those sports.”

“Learning every day”

The shooting range learning curve is enormous for this biathlon newbie, yet she takes it in stride with her never-ending bubbly enthusiasm. “There are so many things now that I forget some of them. It like goes immediately inside and then immediately outside! Now I am only focusing on position, the trigger, breathing. It is quite hard but I am learning and quite satisfied…when I see the others on the A team, I am so far behind, starting from zero. Last week, I ran with the rifle for the first time, got to the shooting range and thought, ‘What do I do next? Lie down?’ My body locked up. You should see my body. I have pain and bruises everywhere. This is a long process, but I am learning every day.”

“Never give up”

Although just beginning her biathlon career, Lampič has goals, but they remain very low key. “There is no pressure. I have some goals but never go too far. I have already done a lot in my life, so if this season I am last every time, it is okay…I have no expectations this winter. I will just go with the flow,” With that in mind, she admitted bringing one lesson from cross-country, “Never give up. You always need to compete until the end, you never know what will happen. It is in my mind all the time. You need to put everything out and just go!”

Sunny Outlook

That attitude falls right in line with the Slovenian’s sunny outlook. “I am not smiling all the time but I enjoy my life. I want to have people around me who are really calm, nice all the time, like jokes. I try to stay away from people who are negative and not smiling.”

Although she first chose cross-country and now biathlon, Lampič, if she could go back in time would choose, “Swimming! In middle school we had a lot of swimming sessions and I was really good at it. Just a month after I chose cross-country, they tried to get me into the school swimming program, but my mom told them, ‘No, she already chose cross-country.’”

“In love with food”

Still on a day off in summer, the water calls her. “I want to go swimming and eat some ice cream.” As for a perfect way to end a hard training day. “It is a mix of going into the shower, good food and a movie. I am in love with good food, so many good meals that I cannot choose a favorite. I like pizza, pasta, Wiener Schnitzel, almost everything, but I don’t like vegetables so much!”

“Smiling, funny and crazy”

The vegetable comment is pure unfiltered Anamarija Lampič, taking sport very seriously, not taking herself so seriously, but quickly admitting she is “funny, smiling and crazy!”

Photos: Anamarija Lampič, Nordic Focus

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