How to Conquer an Olympic Biathlon | NYT – Inside an Olympic Athlete’s Mind
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How to Conquer an Olympic Biathlon | NYT – Inside an Olympic Athlete’s Mind

November 17, 2019


45 minutes or so
before the start, you’re not thinking
about how to ski fast, or what it takes to execute
the perfect biathlon shot, or how much a
biathlon race hurts. I tell, myself it’s just
skiing, and it’s just shooting. I know how to do both
of those things well. And I ski through
it in my mind, and I try to visualize
what type of emotions I’m going to feel, what type
of pressure I’m going to feel, before it actually happens. I’m thinking about
the race, and thinking about where I’m going to
change my technique, if it’s slow snow, if it’s fast snow, if
it’s windy, if it’s not windy. In my mind, I can
see the changing of the digital numbers. And for a moment, I
think, can I do this? Am I capable of putting
myself through this again? Usually the crowd is screaming. It’s pandemonium. But for me, that’s the point
where the audio and visual come in and become
sort of a tunnel, where the only thing that I’m
focusing on is my own race. And in that moment, I
have to repeat to myself, do what you can, with what
you have, where you are. That’s a Teddy
Roosevelt quote: do what you can, with what
you have, where you are. A song comes on that
distracts you for a second. And it’s all about getting
back into your own zone. And for me, that reset button
is just repeating that quote. I look at the snow. I look at where I am. I’ve got skis on my feet. I’ve got a rifle on my back. I know how to start the race. I just need to
let my body do it. I know that, at 10 seconds,
I’ll hear the audible beeps, and that’s the trigger. I’m the bow with the
arrow drawn, waiting. And when that beep changes,
that’s the release, and that’s the acceleration,
and I’m the arrow, and I’m accelerating
down the track. Do what you can, with what
you have, where you are.

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