A Day in Camp with Team Norway

With the next two major Championships both at altitude, Norway like most other teams is maximizing their thin-air training time, recently completing a two-week block in Italy’s Livigno and Passo Lavazè.

The sun rises over the Dolomites around 5 am in June; after breakfast, the men and women go their separate ways this day. The four ladies cross the street from their small hotel, and hit the mostly uphill Centro Fondo Lavazè rollerski track for a warm-up. The men’s group headed out for a mountainous 3-hour 20 km trail run. It is just another day in the seemingly endless summer cycle of train, eat, sleep, repeat.

Camps Together Helpful

Although going separate ways this particular morning, Women’s Coach Patrick Oberegger admits liking camps with the men. “It really helps: twice as many people with different conversations and extra support when things get difficult, especially later in camps when everyone is tired and needs picking up to get through hard days.”

Breath Control

At the 12-lane fully electronic range, getting out the shooting mats, stapling zeroing targets, checking ammunition and preparing for lactate tests during the 2-hour session is part of the glamourous life of biathlon coaches and staff. One-by-one, Ida Lien, Juni Arnekleiv, Karoline Offigstad Knotten and just married Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold top the steep incline to the range, quickly zero in 10 or so shots, ready for a long session of 6 times the 3 km roller loop, each with a single shooting bout. Sounds simple but this is one tough loop, with easily an 800-meter uphill range approach. Physical Coach Sverre Huber Kaas rollerskis parts of multiple loops with each athlete, analyzing ski technique and commenting. Everyone is breathing hard as they grab their rifles. Oberegger gets a foot away and carefully films the five slow shots. “Watching for breath control, focusing on the process (not waiting too long to fire), not the result.” After each bout, a few comments, a quick pin prick for the lactate test, a drink and repeat for almost two hours.

Morning Complete

By 11:30, with loop six complete, Tandrevold was flat on her back on the shooting mat, quickly emptying a water bottle, then packing her rifle and slowly rollerskiing down to the hotel. The men return after a long grind up rocky trails to a refuge atop a 2700-meter peak still sporting patches of snow. Lunch, a nap and relaxation on a brilliant 24C day await athletes and coaches…with another session later.

Back at the Range

At 4 pm, the women were back on the range, doing some fun but productive shooting competitions, with Tandrevold and Knotten a centimeter or two better than the Lien/Arnekleiv duo when it came to hitting prone targets from the standing position!

Men’s Shooting Coach Siegfried Mazet spent an hour working on shooting basics with Sivert Guttorm Bakken, training for the first time after two years of heart problems. Bakken admitted, “It feels great to be back with no limitations, but I can really feel that missed time. When the other guys go ahead in training, I have no anxiety.”

Challenging Laegreid and Dale-Skjevdal

As Mazet and Bakken finished, the depleted men’s group of Sturla Holm Laegreid and Johannes Dale-Skjevdal arrived dripping with sweat, having completed a hard hour of double-poling with Coach Egil Christiansen. The previous day, Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen and Endre Stroemsheim went back to Norway after getting ill. As the clock neared 5:30 pm, Mazet was pushing the life-long friends on the range. After skiing a short loop, the Coach instructed them to shoot in differently than normal, like right to left or center first, purposely upsetting their usual rhythm. “I tell them as they come to the range so they have no time to think, just adjust quickly. Doing this makes them think more effectively when they shoot normally and adds confidence when things may not go perfectly in a race.” A dozen bouts later, the clock says 6:30 pm ending a training day that started when the Norwegians walked out of their hotel 10 hours earlier.

Tomorrow, the next day and the next, more of the same. Biathletes are made in the summer!

Photos: IBU/Nordic Focus, Jerry Kokesh

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