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: http://fasterskier.com/fsarticle/inside-scoop-us-biathlons-olympic-criteria-bernd-eisenbichler/
To stay updated on my training and racing you can follow me here and on my Instagram @roggoessling91.
Thanks for reading.