Michaela Paluszek ’13: My Alaskan Adventure
Over Christmas Vacation, I boarded a small plane to Washington DC to start begin a week's trip to Anchorage, Alaska to compete in the 2012 USA Biathlon Youth Team Trials held at Kincaid National Park.
Impressions of Alaska: it's cold! The first race day turned out to be the warmest of the week - a whopping 11-13 degrees F! My first race was a biathlon sprint, consisting of only two shooting stages, one prone and one standing.
I didn’t do too well; of the ten targets that are used in a sprint, I was only able hit one, and for every miss there is an additional penalty lap. I took fourth in that race and went on to the next day with a sharp eye out for moose and more snow.
The second day my biathlon pursuit event went much better. A biathlon pursuit race has four shooting stages and is longer than a sprint, which is only 7.5 kilometers. A pursuit is around 10k for woman and 12k for men. I was able to shoot around 60% of the targets (there was twenty in total) and I skied well, placing first for the first time ever in my age group. This put me in a good position. If I was to do well enough in the last race of the week, I would have the ability to qualify for the 2012 USA Youth Team at the World Youth/Junior Championships in Finland.
The weather, which had started out cold, was now colder; a solid 6F when we raced and by the athlete banquet and award ceremony that night, it had dropped to 0F. Great arctic training.
The last day was the coldest and the most strenuous. It was a short race for biathlon, only 6 kilometers and two shootings. At the time I was borderline; if I skied well in the second sprint, I had the potential to make the team. If not, well then I just spent a very cold week in Alaska.
The first part of the race was going well until I misfired my last bullet. A misfiring occurs when the bullet falls out of the chamber. It was my only miss of the first stage. The second stage went a little better but my nerves about the misfire didn't help with my shooting. I was only able to hit two targets. I had to ski hard the last finish lap to make up a lot of time and put me back in the podium spot. After hitting 6 of the 10 targets, my third place finish gave me the boost I needed to make the team. Afterwards is was a quick pack and off to the airport for our plane back to New England.
As we were about to board the plane, i heard the news that I would be going to Finland. It was a very long and happy flight back.