Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Reality Check-In

This blog has served as a public archive of my biathlon and cross-country ski racing endeavors the past 8 years.  I use this page to share my thoughts, feelings and experiences with family, friends and supporters. I have not updated this page since the mid-point of last season. My lack of updates has not stemmed from a lack of content. Instead, I have struggled to select which aspects of my experience I wanted to share. Race recaps are not fun to write when the competition was a complete disaster, and training updates are not enjoyable to share when the preparation is not going well. With the first competitions of this Olympic season approaching, I thought it was time to gather my thoughts and share the state of my biathlon life. Before I address the present, there is some catching up to do.     

The end of last season was very difficult for me. Most of my results where poor and a few where marginal. I produced two good results, 6th place in the Mass Start at US Nationals and 3rd place in the second round of the US World Cup Trials.  My slower than expected recovery from mononucleosis, solo training, nagging injuries and lack of quality biathlon training all contributed to my poor results. After decompressing from the season, I was left at the same crossroads I faced in past, should I continue to push for international success, or begin a life outside of elite Nordic sport.
I agonized over this decision. After some time, I decided that I needed to give myself a chance at finding my athletic ceiling. The idea of quitting after two seasons which were marred by illness, injury and overtraining left a bad taste in my mouth, especially when I knew I was capable of much more. After deciding what to do, I had to figure out how to do it. I applied to a few professional teams in the hopes of gaining financial support, coaching and teammates. I was not selected by any of the programs I applied to. I was however, able to find a coach. James Upham is serving as my coach this season and I am very fortunate to have his help. Over the course of his career James has coached many of America’s finest Olympic and Paralympic biathletes to international success.

Under James’s guidance I have been training out of my parent’s home in Yarmouth, Maine. I complete most of my workouts alone, but I am sometimes joined by members of the BNS Acceleration project, a group of junior athletes James coaches in the summer months. I have a part time job with a local nonprofit, which allows me to train as much as I need. I enjoy the balance of working and training, even though it often leads to some very long days.  


My body is finally responding normally to training stimulus and I have seen improvement in my physical fitness, ski technique and shooting stability. I no longer take my health for granted and I am grateful for every day I get to spend outside doing what I love.  Even with these improvements behind me, I am stuck with periods of uncertainty. I wonder if I can reach an international level without the benefits of top class venues, funded training camps, teammates and sponsorships. At the worst of times I wonder, if in the face of these disadvantages, I have even a small chance at reaching my goals. 

I am not without support. My family continues to support my continued pursuit of excellence. My coach James volunteers his time to guide my training. Cory Schwartz and Steve Monsulick at UNH generously assist my training and racing whenever they can. Dick Knight, a local landowner has given me a place to practice shooting. The Southern Maine Biathlon Club, Jackson Biathlon Club and the Fort Kent Outdoor Center help my training efforts with venue and equipment access. Rossignol Skis and Alpina Ski Boots give me access to affordable and top-quality equipment. I am forever grateful to Phil Rogers, Bill Meyer, Brent Smith and my other youth coaches and mentors for giving my career a flying start.

I know I have the talent, and the work ethic to succeed. I know I am doing it the hard way and nobody but me and my supporters are planning on my success. This entire process is an exercise in mental toughness and self-belief, two areas which I have sought to improve my entire career. My strategy is to meet my financial and logistical disadvantages with confidence and mental toughness.  The most daunting challenge is not the competition or the circumstances, but the dissenting voices in my head and the pressure I put on myself.

This season will begin next week in Jericho, Vermont with the first round of World Cup selection races on rollerskis. I have prepared as best as my circumstances have allowed and I am excited to test my physical strength, mental toughness and shooting skills against the best in country. My goal this season is the qualify for the US Olympic Team. You can read about how the team will be picked here:

To stay updated on my training and racing you can follow me here and on my Instagram @roggoessling91.

Thanks for reading.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Catching Up

I have not shared much about myself on this blog or otherwise since my last post on this site in June, 2016. I have maintained this blog off and on since June 3rd 2009. For some perspective, I posted that first entry on this blog when I was 17 years old. I am now 25…

So, in the interest of continuing this public archive of my sporting life, here is a brief update of my year thus far.

June 2016-August 2016
After undergoing an antibiotic treatment for suspected Lyme Disease, I had more tests done which revealed I had mononucleosis. Mono hit me like a large, fully loaded dump truck and I spent most of the summer as a sedentary person. I gradually built back up to full training by September. Over the course of the summer I did less exercising that I have in my entire life, excluding my time as an infant. During the summer, I had the good fortune to develop a local practice shooting range with a local land owner.    

September 2016
I returned to full training and began to try and develop some semblance of physical fitness. I found I had missed pushing myself, but also discovered I was far from top form.

October 2016
In mid-October I did my first competitive biathlon races since March 2014. I put together one excellent race in which I placed 3rd among most all the Men’s competitors in the country. My second race was a step back shooting wise and a much worse result. I left the competition weekend feeling encouraged, but wary of my lack of ski form.

November 2016
In November I joined the UNH Ski Team for a fall on-snow camp in Craftsbury, VT. The Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s snowmaking efforts were thwarted by warm temps, but I could ski at Smuggler’s Notch and do a few on-snow combos on a short loop at the Outdoor Center. I am oh so grateful to the UNH Ski Team coaches and athletes for allowing me to join them for the week.

December 2016
I tried to qualify for the IBU Cup through a series of selection races held at Mt. Itasca in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Many of my earliest biathlon memories involve getting very cold at Mt. Itasca. The racing was indeed chilly, and I struggled with ski selection, fitness and shooting consistency. These faults where my own as I enjoyed generous hospitality and support from Bill and Jean Meyer. Bill is my longtime coach and I am forever grateful to Bill (and Jean!) for their support of my goals over the years.
 After two selection races, I was so discouraged by my poor results that I checked out of my hotel early, got on a bus and attempted to get an early flight home. I wound up staying in Minnesota for the same amount of time, but skipped the final race and stayed with an old friend in nearby Duluth, MN. I am not proud of ducking a race opportunity and I truly regret not reaching out to old friends in the area during my stay. I was so frustrated, confused and despondent about my results I was ashamed to speak about them and seriously considered calling it quits on biathlon.

January 2017
After some quiet days at home with my family for the holidays I resolved to continue to chase biathlon excellence. I put in quality time on snow, discovered a new place to train in Jackson, New Hampshire and took part in local Nordic races. I also competed at the University of New Hampshire’s College Carnival race. My racing was not to the level I had reached the past, but it was fun and I am again grateful to the UNH coaches and athletes for supporting me. Despite a continuing lack of good results, I feel that my form is finally coming around.

February 2017
February has been the my most productive training month to date. I took a week off from work to train in Jackson, New Hampshire with Jake Brown, a supremely talented member of US Biathlon’s X Team.
This camp was made possible by Wayne Peterson at Jackson biathlon and Jake’s great aunt and uncle who allowed us to use their condo for the week. Jackson Biathlon and Wayne Peterson have built an impressive venue and club from the group up. It is exciting to be around this type of biathlon development and I hope the club’s success continues to grow.
My season has not unfolded according to my initial plans (or even secondary schemes), but it has forced me to re-dedicate myself to the sport of biathlon. Although I do not have an official club, I have been fortunate to receive help from a number of people and organizations including Bill Meyer at Minnesota Biathlon, Cory Schwartz and Steve Monsulick at UNH, James Upham, Seth Hubbard at the Outdoor Sport Institute, Joel Hinshaw from the Southern Maine Biathlon Club, Wayne Peterson, and many others.

I would also like to take a moment to thank Phil Rogers, Brent Smith, Gary Colliander, George Hovland, Vladimir Cervenka and others who helped me on my way early in my career. If I missed you on this far from comprehensive list, my apologies.  
This season has taught me that volunteers, coaches, landowners and race organizers make Nordic sport happen in North America. So, don’t forget to thank your local coach, volunteer or race organizer.

After my racing career, I plan to emulate the individuals listed above and hope to create as much positive change in the biathlon and Nordic worlds as they have.
Looking ahead I will be racing in two Biathlon North American Cup races in the next two weeks. I will try to keep everyone informed…       

For regular updates you can follow me on Instagram (roggessling91 and Twitter (@TheRGoessling).

Photos courtesy of Linda Brown and Jackson Biathlon 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Until Now

So far, the year 2016 has been filled with highs and lows. This is not an attempt to be cliché, rather the best way I can describe the events which have transpired over the past 6 months. Instead of creating a dense narrative update, I am going to share a timeline of images with brief explanatory captions. The purpose of this strategy is twofold, first I am (justifiably) burnt out on creating long pieces of writing, second, I hope by employing this tactic this update will actually be a bit interesting.
Here we go:

January and February
I completed my final year of EISA racing with my teammates. My carnival campaign was largely unsuccessful, but I was able to put together enough decent races to qualify for NCAAs.

I was very happy to qualify for the NCAA Championships, unfortunately I posted two very poor results. Aside from subpar (at best) racing I really enjoyed all other aspects of the trip.

I used the month of April to live like a “normal” college student. No photos from this month are in my possession. This may be for the better.
During the month of April I seriously considered my relationship with skiing and biathlon. Many people asked me what my plans where after my upcoming graduation from UNH. “Internship?” “Assistant coaching job?” “9 to 5?” “Biathlon?” I made the decision to continue my career as an athlete, with a focus on biathlon.

On the eve of the new training year I was struck by a police car while riding my bike through a major intersection on the UNH campus. This caused me to lose some days of training. Fortunately, I have yet to suffer any serious complications from this incident.

 I trained as well as I could while recovering from the crash finishing out my academic responsibilities and fighting off a persistent cough. During this period, I was informed by 3 of the 4 ski clubs I had applied to that they would not be offering me a place on their team for the coming training year. I am awaiting a reply from the final club.  

At the end of the month I graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in Communication. I was also honored with a few academic awards. I was humbled by the recognition I received. I would like to thank my family, professors, coaches and teammates for their help and support.

After my graduation I headed home and became quite ill. I lost another week of training.

After an antibiotic enabled recovery, I put in my first good week of training this year, only to become ill once again. I am currently on antibiotics to treat suspected Lyme disease. During my recovery I have been watching the Copa America, Euro 2016, and NBA Finals.

A few days ago my trusty Subaru wagon has been showing signs that its predicted demise may be very close at hand.  

While I am at home, I will have the privilege to work with James Upham. James is an excellent coach and I look forward to training with him if I am ever healthy for a few consecutive days. I will continue to follow a plan written by my longtime coach and supporter Bill Meyer from the Nisswa Northwest Biathlon Club.  I have also secured a place to shoot near my home which is a big step forward.

Looking ahead I will continue to obsessively check my email for a resolution to my final club application and pursue a part time jobs so I can buy some bullets to practice with.

I am optimistic that despite this rough start, I can still find success this winter.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tickets, Please!

About 8 weeks ago Nordic athletes across the country punched their tickets to enter the mysterious, exciting, scary, rewarding carnival which is the 2015-2016 ski season. In the lead up to ticket time some athletes could be seen walking (others running) to the parking lot, offering cheers and goodbyes to friends and teammates. Others where circling frantically, trying to find a way to pay for just one more admission to the carnival. Most chatted amongst themselves, ready to begin another go-round.
Once inside the gates, each individual must choose which attractions to attend, with only a limited amount of entries and time, this choice must be made wisely. Not all rides are open to everyone. Many found themselves disappointed in April, when they saw their names where no longer on the admitted list to one ride or another. A few rides closed down altogether, leaving their patrons the unpleasant task of finding a new place in line on opening day.  I will be boarding the University of New Hampshire’s College Carnival Coaster for the second and final time. I am really excited to see what the ride will look like this year. I am planning to bring my best shape when the ride reaches its peak in February and March.

The College Carnival Coaster is notorious for its twists, turns, highs and lows. Right now, during the summertime the ride is slowly ticking up the start incline. It is a bit of a grind, but the view gets better and better as it goes on and the company is excellent.

This summer I am working through a few summer courses to ensure that I am on track to graduate next spring with a degree in Communication. In addition to training I will be helping with some summertime home improvement projects and closely following the Women’s World Cup with my sister. Despite a few bouts of sickness I am in a good place with my training, albeit a bit low on hours. (Hey wasn’t that the plan?)

Since this will be my final college ski racing season, I am making NCAA competition my focus. I will not be training or racing any biathlon, at least until the spring, but that is also far from locked in.

The best part about the ski racing carnival is that anything can happen and everyone gets to experience it together. It is always a heck of a ride. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

College Continues

Winter is in full swing and I am roughly half way through a very busy Eastern Carnival race season and my second semester at UNH. The fall of 2014 brought many new challenges and experiences for me including my first set of final exams, Thanksgiving training camp in Craftsbury, VT and my US National XC Championships. Each of these experiences and the ones between were new and exciting. These events were enhanced by having my teammates and the UNH community as a whole at hand to encourage, support and engage me.

Dimond Library at UNH 
This fall I did struggle a bit to balance academics and skiing. Energy management and staying healthy were my biggest challenges. Despite these setbacks I had an acceptable conclusion to my training year and was able to be successful in the classroom.

First EISA Bib 

Despite the lack of snow in New England my family and I had an excellent Christmas and I found great training at the Jackson XC Ski Center. Jackson must be good for me because my efforts there lead me to a 15th place in the 15km Freestyle and a 28th place in the 30k classic at the US Nationals in Houghton, Michigan. More notably, two of my teammates, Gavin Hess and Peter Holmes qualified for World Junior Championships in Nordic skiing. Additionally Kamran Husain, a former MWSC (now with SMS) athlete had an awesome week and will be racing in Europe for the USA as well.

Things where pretty frosty in Michigan 

My first Carnival races where challenging, but most importantly super fun. The comradery and high level of competition on the EISA circuit make for an outstanding atmosphere. I placed well in the first two weekends and I am looking forward to the rest of the season.

Striding it out my my teammate Eirik  

To follow my racing check out for results and for recaps and rankings. In addition, UNH Skiing posts often regarding goings on within the team on Facebook, Instragram and Twitter.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Into Wildcat Country

The transition from summer to fall has begun in New England. Temperatures are dropping and things are starting to fall from the sky. As a native Midwesterner the extent to which “Fall” describes the phenomenon’s of the season did not hit home until I went for a run my first September in Maine and had numerous bits of decaying flora fall on my head.
This fall signaled a new change in my life besides the normal seasonal and training shifts. I have begun my college career at the University of New Hampshire. I am a full time student and a member of the ski team. Over the past weeks I have moved into a new house, explored the campus, (mostly) figured out my classes and begun to learn the ins and outs of UNH Skiing.
So far I have truly enjoyed the switch to a large motivated training group, engaging academics and an outstanding sense of community across both the academic and athletic circles I am a part of here. Highlights of my time so far include fun evenings with teammates, challenging interval sessions and insightful lectures in my new favorite class, Language and Social Interaction.
I am very glad to say that my adjustment to life as a student athlete has been quite seamless so far. I know I have a lot to learn about most aspects of this lifestyle, but I feel that I have a good start already. 

To keep track of my goings on and those of UNH Skiing follow us on Twitter (@unhskiing) and on Facebook.

I will do my best to continue to update my blog as time allows. For now I am looking forward to a productive fall in New Hampshire.

Monday, July 7, 2014

How Do You Know? Summertime Musings

Summer is in full swing in Southern Maine bringing with it hot weather, long hours and summer employment.
This summer is much different from summers past because I am working part time at LL Bean. I am grateful for the employment, since college expenses loom and it affords me a foothold in one of the most employee friendly corporations in the word.

On hot days it pays to be coastal 
My job has made it necessary for me to adjust how and when I train. I am working on balancing available training time with recovery needs and my job schedule. This experience will be very handy when I join my teammates at UNH this fall for training and studying. Despite this change I have trained more hours this season then I did at this time last season. Not having to spend time on the range also contributed to the increase in physical training hours. As the previous sentence implies, my biathlon sabbatical has entered its 4th month. I have taken this time to focus on my skiing, clear my head and examine my priorities.
Working on that classic technique 

During a recent rollerski training session I was doing just that... Thinking through where I had been, what I had done, where I was and where it is I want to go. As these thoughts mixed with exercise induced chemicals, fatigue and mild dehydration I looked to my left and saw a woman I had passed 2 hours earlier on the first portion of my ski. She shouted as I passed, “How do you know where you are going? How do you know where you have been?” I was taken aback for a moment and replied something along the lines of “I go out and back!”  As I continued back to my car, I began to consider ever broadening interpretations of her question.

Once a field now a forest  
After returning to my car and re-gaining normal thought process I re-visited her odd query. I decided that no matter where I have been or what lies ahead I will endeavor to, as my coach Bill Meyer puts it “Enjoy the Journey”  
Mamma Snapper in the sand during a plyo session 

The journey continues this month with additional hours, a dash high intensity work and of course a few summer fun days as well.