Monday, March 17, 2014

Championship Season

The spring is a fun, exciting and busy time of year for high level Nordic athletes. February and March are “Championship Season” with the bulk of the most important races of the season occurring during this period. I had the opportunity to take in the championship season from a variety of viewpoints this season.
US Youth Women following excellent racing 
My championship season began through the lens of a service (wax) man for the Czech Biathlon team at Youth and Junior World Championships. This event was brilliantly hosted by the Nordic Heritage Sport Club in Presque Isle, Maine. My days where filled with testing different combinations of waxes, powders and base structures. I also did some basic ski prep and helped the team logistically; however, my favorite part of my job was supporting the athletes on the course with extra equipment (in case of a mishap) and shouts of encouragement. I learned a lot about ski preparation and made a number of friends in the process.  My friends and teammates on the US Team put together excellent results during championships. You can read all about their accomplishments on Fasterskier.com and USBiathlon.org
I enjoyed a day off during these championships, free from training and waxing obligations. I was able to take in the competitions like a spectator. I have not had this opportunity much and I was quickly reminded, through the excitement of the competitions why biathlon is so popular the world over.  

Jalbert House Athletes 
Following this event it was time for me to step on the racing skis for my final biathlon competitions of the season. I competed at US National Championships in Jericho, Vermont. I raced well placing 3rd, 1st, and 1st in the 3 races, including a rare night race, which I really enjoyed. I was happy with my form and my shooting. It was refreshing to be satisfied with my performances, but it also left me pondering the possibilities, had I showed similar form in more important races. Finishing the season with a successful weekend for me and my team was excellent.

Mass Start 
Maine Winter Sports Podium Sweep 
I will start a 50km freestyle (skating) race next weekend to finish up my season next weekend in Sugarloaf, Maine. It will be my first Marathon and the field promises to be competitive. I am looking forward to this challenging and (hopefully!) fun test.



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. Taking Away What's Important


I concluded my European tour with a race weekend in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. I competed in Nove Mesto previously as a member of the US Junior World Championship Team in 2011. I was nice to be in a familiar setting. While the town and surrounding areas where identical, the venue was significantly different due to the major upgrades put in place for the 2013 Biathlon World Championships. Nove Mesto presented much different conditions than those I encountered in Pokljuka, Slovenia. The massive snow banks of Slovenia where replaced by green grass and late spring conditions in Czech. The course was made up of a single 2.5k loop of dirty manmade snow. This is different from the normal compliment of 1.5-4k course options on offer in better conditions. These limitations forced the organizers to develop some creative courses and lap combinations to meek the 15k distance requirement for Saturday’s mass start and the 20k’s needed for Sunday’s individual competition.
The whitest the courses where all week 

The races themselves where very positive from in every respect except for the final results. I trained optimally to perform in the days ahead of the competition. Most importantly, I turned around my shooting outcomes and mental outlook in both races. The limiting factor was the gliding speed of my skis. I did not have the equipment for the warm, wet and dirty skiing of Nove Mesto. I do my best to not complain about my equipment, so I would like stress that the ski selection was completely my responsibility and has no reflection on the efforts of my coaches. It is quite frustrating to lose minutes to athletes I am normally competitive with, but again equipment is part of the game.
Coach Betsy Smith on the Range 

I am going to spend a few days in Southern Maine catching up with my family before traveling back to Aroostook Country. The highlight of the coming weeks will be the Youth and Junior World Championships in Presque Isle, Maine. I’m stoked to cheer for my MWSC teammates and the entire US Team! Since I am a senior athlete I will not be racing; however, I will be waxing skis for the team from the Czech Republic. I have never been part of a professional service team. I am looking forward to the opportunity. Following World Juniors I will compete at US Biathlon Nationals and I am contemplating an end of season 50km cross country race.          


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Snowing in Slovenia

I have arrived in Slovenia for what I was planning to be an Alpen Cup race weekend. Unfortunately, upon our arrival we were told that the races for the weekend where canceled due to the meter plus of heavy wet snow and intermittent power failures at the venue. This is obviously quite disappointing, as the express purpose of this trip is to compete in high quality competitions. Luckily, the town of Bled and the Polkjuka biathlon center are both incredibly scenic. The skiing is excellent and I will be taking part in a time trial with our group and the Slovenian National Team. This time also gives me the opportunity to optimally prepare for the Austrian Championships next weekend. I am steadfast in adhering to the purpose of this trip, which is to make strides as a biathlete. If nothing else this will be a great training block before the spring races and a great opportunity to increase my level for next season. The photos used in this post are courtesy of my teammates Casey Smith and Katrina Howe.








Monday, February 3, 2014

To Europe

Tomorrow I am embarking on a two week trip to Europe. I will be racing in the Alpen Cup Finals in Pokljuka, Slovenia and the Austrian National Championships in Rosenau, Austria. These races will provide me with an invaluable opportunity to progress as a biathlete. Nearly as important, this tour will provide me with an opportunity to redeem myself in the shadow of disappointing results in December and January.

My goal for this tour is to focus on executing quality races and staying fundamentally sound.  

I have sent out the following message to my extended family and supporters. I have included it here to make it easier to share and with the hope of attracting more exposure.




Dear Family, Friends and Supporters,

I hope all of you have had the opportunity to take advantage of the winter season with friends and loved ones.

In the coming weeks I will be competing in Slovenia and Austria, at an Alpen Cup and Austrian National Championships respectively. These races are important because they will allow me to test myself against some of the top biathletes in Europe. During this Olympic year there are few, highly competitive biathlon races to be found in North America and for me to advance in this sport I will need this opportunity to test myself against some of the world's best. With an eye to South Korea in four years, these races will mark the beginning of my renewed quest to achieve success in this sport and earn the honor to represent my country as a US biathlete. 
The unexpected nature of this trip will not allow me or my sponsors to financially prepare for this venture. My main supporters, The Maine Winter Sports Center, will help get me there but, upon the completion of the tour more funds will be needed.  I would greatly appreciate any support you would be kind enough to offer to help me cover the cost of this vital race experience.

Tax deductible, monetary contributions can be sent to the Maine Winter Sports Center at:

552 Main Street
Caribou, ME
04736
Any donations made through the Maine Winter Sports Center are tax-deductible as the organization is a 501 (c) nonprofit.
I will be documenting my experiences abroad and throughout the remainder of my racing season on my Blog: raleighbiathlon.blogspot.com.
Thank you for your support,

Raleigh Goessling



Check back for updates on my trip overseas.









Monday, January 27, 2014

January Racing and An Opportunity Abroad







The month of January is always chock-full of racing for any Nordic athlete. I did my best to move on from the disappointing and generally poor racing I did in December and enjoy my skills and fitness level for the remainder of the winter.

The first step in this process was to re-visit some basic fitness development. The process of achieving peak fitness, which I attempted to do in December for the IBU Cup Trials, sacrifices factors such as strength development and aerobic development in favor of high intensity training and rest. This allows for a short period of high performance, but is not sustainable for an entire season. My mid season training block went well and I carried hopes for European Racing later in the month through my time on the ski trails and in the weight room.

Following this intense week in Fort Kent, I took the opportunity to race without my rifle for a weekend and contest an Eastern Cup weekend with my MWSC teammates. Even though I am a biathlete, I still enjoy the simplicity and speed of cross country racing.
The weekend featured a  15km mass start freestyle on Saturday and a 10km individual start classic on Sunday. The Men’s field in Saturday’s mass start was extremely competitive. It featured Kris Freeman, my MWSC teammate and the #2 distance skier in the country. Kris was recently declared a member of Team USA heading to the Sochi Games. (Go Kris!)

My other MWSC teammate Welly Ramsey, fresh off a top 10 finish at US XC Nationals toed the line as well.  In addition Matt Liebsch and Sylvan Ellefson who both hold top 5 US cross country rankings started the race.  (Unfortunately neither where selected for Sochi) Finally members of Vermont’s Craftsbury Green racing team where in attendance making the field only a few racers short of a national championship.

Thanks to my coach Seth Hubbard I had incredibly fast skis and I was well prepared to ski fast. I finished 6th, only 48 seconds behind the leaders. This race was encouraging for me because it showed I am near the front of the domestic XC racing scene.

The Sunday classic race was fun and challenging. Even though I am a biathlete, I enjoy classic skiing. (Biathlon is only freestyle) Classic skiing uses a different set of stabilizing muscles then freestyle, so I was quite sore during and after the race. I was happy with the technical aspects of my skiing and came away with a 7th place finish. Not bad for my only fast classic skiing since last April…

The Maine Winter Sports Center team had an excellent weekend, posting top finishes in nearly every category and surely earning the respect of the other top clubs in attendance.
The next set of races I travel too wrapped up yesterday in Jericho, Vermont. The North American Championships brought together the few (4) Senior age- athletes from the USA and Canada who were not selected to race in Europe by their respective governing bodies to contest a Sprint, Pursuit and Mass Start competitions over 3 days.

I skied well on Friday and fought hard on both Saturday and Sunday.  My shooting continued to be well below acceptable. I placed 1st in the Sprint, 2nd in the Pursuit and a close 3rd in the Mass Start. I am still searching for a solution to my poor shooting. At this point I feel it can only improve…

 The most important development in my season came early last week, when the Maine Winter Sports Center and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project biathlon teams were granted by US Biathlon, the opportunity to race in an Alpen Cup race in Slovenia and the Austrian National Championships. With poor selection results and limited numbers of start rights on the World Cup and IBU Cup these races represent a golden opportunity to test my skills against some of the best athletes in Europe.





Unfortunately, the late announcement and lack of financial support will make this trip a huge monetary challenge. I am currently looking for tax-deductable donations to go toward my travel and ground costs for this important racing opportunity abroad. If you or your organization is interested in being a part of this crucial development opportunity please contact me at Raleigh.goessling@gmail.com. 


This season is far from over and I am taking every step possible toward producing the results I know I am capable of.     

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Team Triumph and Personal Failure: IBU Cup Trials

Trials races are always challenging and emotional. This season's editions proved no exception.

After posting poor results in all of the rollerski trials so far this season, I entered the final winter trials hungry for success. I hoped to carry my good shooting and skiing form from Canada, through trials and into the Olympic selection IBU Cups.

Unfortunately, I caught a small bug and was unable to train for a few days following the final NorAm Cup in Canmore. This setback was unfortunate, but hardly insurmountable.

The frigid and snowy Mt. Itasca Winter Sports Complex in Coleraine, Minnesota provided the setting for the final selection races of the season.

I have many fond memories of racing as a young athlete at Mt. Itasca. Some of my best sporting moments took place there. Unfortunately, despite improving ski form I was well outside of my goal of qualifying for the IBU Cup team. My shooting and more importantly, my inability to control my emotions and expectations where the culprits behind my poor performances.  It doesn't take a veteran biathlon coach to recognize that these factored are clearly linked.  These two factors have dogged my racing for the entirety of my career. After four years of full time training I am still grappling with these challenges.

My personal performance aside, I am very proud of my teammates Casey Smith and Russell Currier for qualifying for the team. I know they will perform well in Europe. My teammate Katrina Howe also put together an outstanding performance of the first day of trials to win the opening race. The success of my teammates helps to take a portion of the sting from my personal failure. Their success validates the work we did together and opens the door for dreams of my own success in the future.

My immediate future holds a much needed reunion with my family for the holidays. I will use this time to decompress from the stresses of the past 3 months and seek clarity in my sporting and personal life.

Most importantly, I would like to thank my family, friends, coaches, teammates, former coaches, mentors and sponsors (see right of page) for their generous support of my pursuit of athletic excellence. Without all of these pieces of support I would not be able to do what I love.

I don't know what the rest of this season will hold for me, but I intend to carry it out in the most professional and honorable manner possible.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

North American Cups 1 and 2





The racing season is officially underway after back to back weekends of North American (NorAm) Cup Biathlon racing. I am glad to have had the opportunity to kick of the season with high level athletes on quality courses. Over the course of the racing season, my racing form generally improves, so with Trials racing in early December these NorAm competitions where an important stepping stone to the heart of the season.





My ski technique, time on the course and shooting stability steadily increased as I put in more competition hours. The results sheet was a mixed bag, with two poor skiing days and two poor shooting days. I came away with one 3rd place and one 1st place finish out of the 4 races. I am very happy with the progress I have made of the past 2 weeks of training and racing.











 The MWSC biathlon team will continue to train in Canmore until next Saturday. At that point we will travel to Grand Rapids Minnesota (My Home State!) for competitions which will determine the final pool of athletes for Olympic Selection.  Kristen Smith, a friend, but not a relation of my teammate Casey caught some great shots from the race days. I can’t wait to challenge the best in the country in Minnesota. For full results from all the biathlon racing action can be found o
n www.zone4.ca, under the blue icons labeled “NorAm/Calforex Cup AM”