December 9, 2011


Christmas comes to Östersund - but we found winter in Austria!

The first week of World Cup competition is completed, and we're already getting things underway here in Hochfilzen for World Cup #2. It's amazing how quickly the season starts to go by once the racing begins! Fortunately, Hochfilzen has had a nice snow storm to make the skiing good and the view wintry. Unfortunately, France cannot say the same. Instead of heading to Annecy-Le Grand Bornand next weekend, we'll be staying put for another week in Hochfilzen. We were all looking forward to skiing a new venue and seeing some new places along the way, but mother nature just didn't want to cooperate this year. Annecy hopes to host in December of 2013 instead.

My racing so far has not been exactly what I hoped for. While I was able to shoot well and move up into the points in the pursuit in Östersund, my skiing just hasn't been there. I tend to do better as the season goes on, and indeed last year my best races were in February. However, it's still hard feeling like you're not skiing where you feel you can. My coaches are confident the times will come, and already they see improvement from Östersund to Hochfilzen. I'm trying to be patient and confident too...though that's sometimes a tall order for an athlete!

Shooting has been solid; now we just wait for the skiing to follow. (photo: Jonne Kähkönen)

With 2 penalties, I just made it into the pursuit here tomorrow so I'm looking forward to shooting a little better and hopefully moving up. Every rung on the ladder must be touched before I can get where I want to be, so tomorrow I'm hoping to take another step up!

November 30, 2011

And it Begins...

The stadium in Östersund, pre-snow storm.

The men have kicked off another World Cup Biathlon season with the Östersund Individual today, and the US men have set the bar for themselves and the team nicely! Lowell Bailey had a great race with only 2 penalties, putting him in 9th. Jay Hakkinen also put together a great race, finishing 18th with the same shooting. Two men in the top-20 is a great start for us, and the rest of the men looked strong and I'm sure are psyched to get the season going.

Some of our teammates raced on Sunday in the IBU the middle of the first snow storm of the year!

The first race is always tough because you have no idea what your shape really is against all the other teams. It can be nerve-wracking and exciting all at once. Often times, you'll see athletes struggle in the first races, but when you can overcome that exhilarating feeling of kicking things off, then great races can happen. Tomorrow, I'll be aiming to put nerves behind me and kick off the season on the right foot. I already feel worlds ahead of last year, when parasites in the water knocked me down for the first weekend of World Cup racing. So no matter what, this is a much more positive start for me!

Skiing out on the extra 3km loop...before...

And during the storm! Much better...

The weather has been decidedly eastern here lately: with snow, rain, thunder and wind often all in one day. The snow has set up nicely, though, and the conditions should be fair and good for the race tomorrow. Wind may be a factor, but I plan on just going with what's dealt.

Racing starts at 5:15pm CET (+6hrs to EST) tomorrow. You can watch live feed and live results at I'll be bib #29...and ready to get things going!

Östersund sunset...about 3:00pm!

November 19, 2011


Yes, though I may have seemed more than a little M.I.A. these last couple months, I've actually been quite busy.  It's been pretty much the usual fall schedule since I left Alaska (with my cousin's wedding thrown in): Utah camp, prep for snow, head to Sweden, begin get the idea.  One major difference is that unlike last year's frigid weather, Sweden is this year offering very little snow, and balmy, just near freezing temperatures.  But more on that later.  For now, it's time for the here's-what-you-missed-in-photos blog post! 

Training in work with what you've got.
My brother and me at my cousin's wedding.  We clean up well!
What fun is a wedding without wheelbarrow races?!  This counts as training, right?
Rollerskiing on the loop at Soldier Hollow, Utah.  All but one day brought us amazing weather!
Annelies, Corrine and I enjoy the sunshine on a hike in Park City.
Along with several other people, we saw several Mountain Goats on Mt. Timpanogos!
Annelies and me on the way down from Timp.  Snow turned us around early, but the hike was great anyway!
Corrine shows her excitement at the dusting of snow we hiked through before I left Lake Placid for Sweden.  Ironically, there's more snow in this picture than in Ostersund!

September 21, 2011

Germany and Beyond

It seems that despite all the best laid plans, my blogging efforts have been stalled for the past few weeks. Sorry about that. Since my last post, I spent a week in Oberhof, Germany before flying back to Lake Placid for three short days and then heading off to Alaska to visit Zach. Last week, Zach and I went off into the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve where we backpacked into some beautiful country looking for moose. We were unsuccessful in our moose hunt, but the trip was well worth it.

Hooked up to all kinds of fancy machines at the Salzburg University sport center. We stopped here briefly on our way from Ruhpolding to Oberhof for some shooting position analysis.

Inside the Ski Hall in Oberhof. I really enjoyed the opportunity to be on-snow, but the 1.7km loop became pretty repetitive!

We even had spectators checking us out from time to time!

While we didn't find any moose in Wrangell, we did find plenty of Caribou antlers!

Next week I head back to Lake Placid for another brief stop before our October camp in Utah begins. Yes, October. I can hardly believe how quickly August and September have flown by. I'm enjoying fall, though, and already looking forward to winter!

August 29, 2011

Time for Time Trials

Hello from Germany!

Things have finally cooled off a bit here in Germany, and though I'm not going to complain about sunny days after the winter we had here, the cool down was MUCH appreciated! Last week was a pretty big one for us, with two time trials. The first was a normal biathlon time trial with the Italian team, Slovenians, Estonians and us (as well as Andrea Henkel). It was a hot day, but things went well for me. Given that the Italians were all on fast rollerskis and I was still 4th, I was happy. Shooting felt solid and the skiing was much better than Jericho a couple weeks ago. It was nice to do a time trial with the pressure of an international field, too: we were able to see where things might stack up this winter. Our coaches were pleased and I think we're all looking forward to fine tuning things in the next couple months before the snow flies!

Annelies shows off our ice bath post-time trial.

On Saturday, we did the epic Rossfeld uphill skate time trial. It was just our team, but that did not diminish the feat. Rossfeld is a fairly steep but skiable uphill (it averages an 8.5% grade) that takes about an hour to complete. The women's start point makes the course 10km, while the men start a bit lower for a 12km total. It's definitely an exercise in mental toughness - having to stay focused for that long, plus pacing correctly so you don't bonk before the end. Despite being a foggy, rainy day, it was a solid time trial. No one was complaining about the weather, because if it had stayed hot we would have all been more than miserable. I was very happy with my effort, and extremely glad to have the workout behind me!

Me, at the start of the Rossfeld TT. (photo: Jonne Kahkonnen)

Our women's group is now complete, with yesterday's arrival of Laura Spector (thanks, Irene, for letting her out!). Today we head off to Oberhof where we'll be able to ski in the ski tunnel the next few days. On the way, we'll stop in Salzburg for some shooting tests. Only one more week left in the camp, and only a couple more day left in August. The summer is ending and things are feeling on-track for a good winter. Here's to a great fall of training!

Beautiful Salzburg! (photo: Zachary Hall)

August 21, 2011


See "Rainpolding" for contrast...

Greetings from SUNNY Bavaria! The first week of the Europe camp has flown by, and though the weather is always a worry, Ruhpolding has been cooperating fully by giving us bright, sunny days and thundering only at night. It’s been a great start!

So far, the team has been spending a lot of time on the roller loop at the Chiemgau Arena (where this season’s World Championships will be held) and running, biking and rollerskiing all around the Ruhpolding area. Thursday, we went on a 5 hour long bike/kayak excursion that took us into Austria and then over to the famed Chiemsee Lake before we circled back for delicious lunch.

Annelies getting ready for the kayak section of our adventure.

Biking in Bavaria...

Enjoying a well-earned Bavarian lunch post-bike!

Yesterday, after some technique combo work, we ran from the venue through a beautiful valley, ending at a ski resort hut where we had a quick snack while taking in the view before driving back to our hotel. This is an amazing place to train, not only because the people seem to think biathlon practice is a spectator event (it’s amazing how many people are in the stands just to watch us do L1 combos…and of course by “us” I mean Andrea Henkel and Magdalena Neuner), but also because of the sheer number of trails and roads just out the door for running and biking. It’s no wonder Germans excel at many sports – the atmosphere is just so conducive!

Andrea Henkel signing autographs while out at dinner.

This coming week will be our last in Ruhpolding. It will be a big week, including a time trial with the Italian, Slovenian, German B team, and Russian teams, and a much smaller hill climb time trial at the end of the week. It will be interesting to see how things shake out! Then off to Oberhof for some skiing in the ski tunnel there. It should be a great couple weeks!

August 14, 2011

Jericho, Take 2 and Other Adventures

Alaska Adventures soon to come... Photo Credit: Zachary Hall

It's hard to believe that August is already here and the "travel" season is beginning for me. I'm heading out to Europe for a three week A-team camp in Ruhpolding and Oberhof, Germany. It should be a great camp and a fun start to the fall training season (I know, August seems a bit early to be saying "fall," but trust me, it will be here and gone before you know it). But first, a short re-cap of the North American Rollerski Biathlon Championships last weekend in Jericho, VT.

True to Jericho form, it was HOT and almost unbearably humid. Saturday's race was around 83F with about 85% humidity, making the race a tough one for sure. Many of the national team athletes have had issues with the heat in the past, and the sprint race was no exception. I was happy with my performance, though, and felt able to push through 2.5 of the 3 laps before completely bonking. At the time I was bummed with that, but it turned out to be further than most of the other women made it, and with only 1 penalty, it was enough to take home the title for that day! I've never been much of a performer in the summer months, and so having some success in Jericho was a boost for me, though I'm quick to say that performance in August does not necessarily correlate with performance in December...and December is the goal.

Heading out in the Sprint Race. Photo Credit: Judy Geer

The pursuit on Sunday saw no respite from the temperatures, and unfortunately for me, no repeat of the successes of Saturday. My skiing just wasn't there...I was not able to find my rhythm and my standing shooting was terribly off. But these things happen. I know you have to have bad days in order to learn and get to the great days. And as I said before, it's August, so not to worry.

After Jericho, most of the A-team headed back to Lake Placid for a week of solid, but relaxed training before leaving for Europe. After our three weeks in Germany, I'll be back to Lake Placid briefly before heading out to Alaska to train and see Zach. By the end of that trip, it will be October and Utah camp...and ski season is just around the corner from there! It's always amazing how quickly time goes when you're training. I'm looking forward to the traveling and adventures of the next couple months, but am being sure to stay focused and healthy as we creep up on December.

August 3, 2011

A Day in the Life

I'm often asked what exactly I DO as an elite athlete every day. The answer is never as simple as one might really depends on what kind of training week we're in (high volume, intensity focus, rest week, etc) and what time of year it is. In the spring things are much more free-form and less ski-specific than in the fall when we're gearing up for competition season. Nevertheless, here's a little peak at what a fairly typical August training day looks like (it happens to be my day yesterday, Tuesday August 2).

6:45am - wake up (remember to take morning heart rate!)

7:00 - Head down to the OTC cafeteria for breakfast (cereal, yogurt and fruit).

7:25 - Head back to room and get ready for training. This morning is a ski walking L3 workout at Whiteface Mtn, so I need to be sure to have extra clothes and water and food for post-workout. Don't forget bounding poles!

7:45 - depart with coaches and teammates for Whiteface.

8:15 - Arrive at Whiteface and begin warm-up (30min) followed by 5min L2 ski walking and then a 20min L3 block. After 20min, we meet up with our coaches and take lactates to be sure we're in the right zone. My lactate was 2.7 mmol/L, which is perfect for a L3 workout. However, I was feeling pretty tired so my coach and I decided that instead of 20 more continuous minutes of L3, I would do 4x5min. After the level 3, we did 3x1min of harder bounding (about L4) just to get the heart rate up a bit more. We then hiked/jogged back down the mountain to the van where we changed and stretched before heading back to the OTC.

11:00 - Arrive at the OTC. Shower and change before heading down to lunch.

11:30 - Lunch (grilled cheese sandwich, split pea soup and a salad).

12:15pm - Head back to the room to relax and nap before afternoon training. This time can be filled with any number of activities, including errands to town, writing blog posts, and calling family and friends. Yesterday, I updated USADA with my whereabouts for the coming weekend in Jericho and our upcoming training camp in Germany, then I took a nap.

3:30 - Meet teammate Annelies Cook for a run and strength workout. We did a short warm-up jog (30min) then 3x10min of circuit strength together. This is a great workout to do together; we were able to push and motivate each other and the workout was done before we knew it.

4:45 - Return to room. I'm having a small foot issue right now, so I was sure to ice it after my workout and stretch before showering. I then had a small snack since I wasn't going to head to dinner right away.

6:30 - Resident Athlete meeting. All OTC residents are required to attend these monthly meetings to discuss issues and events. They don't usually last too long and are usually pretty entertaining.

7:00 - Head to dinner (grilled chicken, wild rice, and LOTS of steamed veggies).

8:00 - Back to my room. Evening activities vary just like our off time during the day. Sometimes we have dry-fire work alone or with a coach, or updating your training log. Yesterday I worked on getting somewhat organized for Jericho and did some laundry while I watched a movie.

11:00pm - Bed! A good night's sleep is imperative for getting through tough training day after day!

Hopefully this gives you a better perspective of what life as a biathlete is like. More questions? Head to my facebook page and ask away!

July 26, 2011

Jericho, Take 1

Last week the women's team headed over to Jericho, VT for a week of training on the rollerski loop and range there. Usually, Jericho is either unbearably hot or incredibly rainy, but this time we got (mostly) lucky. With only one day of rain, and a couple really hot days, the week was pretty pleasant. It was also the first time that the whole women's team has been together in a while. Laura Spector came over from school for the weekend, and all of us were back from our various vacations and off weeks. It was great having a solid group again, and gave us a short window to make a video for the US Ski Team Women's Video Challenge. Check out our entry here. The week culminated in a ride back from Jericho to Lake Placid. Nearly 100 miles on the hottest day of our camp was a bit brutal, but we survived and actually enjoyed it. At the very least, it was some great team bonding!

6:45am...heading out!

Heading up the Keane Hill...almost home!

We now have a bit of a break before we head back to Jericho for the National Rollerski Biathlon Championship races. For most, it will be the first part of trials for the December World Cup and IBU Cup races. Since I'm already qualified, it will just be a good chance to check up on the training I've been doing all summer and get that racing feel again. After the races, it's off to Europe for our August camp! It's amazing how fast the summer is flying by. I'm not quite ready for the training season to be done, but I think we're all starting to feel the slightest hint of that winter itch.

July 13, 2011


After a good training block in Lake Placid, I headed home to Boise at the end of June for a friend's wedding and to hang out with my family. Of course, I was still training, but it was nice to have a break from Lake Placid and have some different training venues and adventures to mix things up. Perhaps the biggest adventure was going on a hike in the Sawtooth Mountains with my mom and running into a black bear. He was probably more scared than we were, and quickly ran away...but it was enough to get our hearts racing and keep us talking loudly for the remainder of the hike. Clearly, I had no chance to get pictures of this encounter, but here are some I was able to snap on my trip.

My good friend Courtney got married while I was home and I was so excited to take part in her special day!

Post-bear encounter at Hell Roaring Lake. So beautiful!

The view from the top of Mount Baldy in Sun Valley. It was a great place to do some L3 ski walking...

...especially because once on top, you can ride the chair lift and gondola down! What a fun way to end a tough workout. :)

I'm now back in Lake Placid for a few days before our team heads over to Jericho, VT for a week of training. It will be nice to get in some solid skiing and shooting training...and to have all the women back training together for a while!

June 13, 2011

Tweet Tweet

I'm now on twitter! Follow me here (@SaraStudebaker).

June 8, 2011

Hello June!

Hiking in the Adirondacks a few weeks ago...things have become MUCH greener!

I've been more than negligent in my blog posting recently, but luckily that has not extended to my training in general. We're currently in the middle of a 22hr training week, and looking forward to a short shooting-focused camp next week. This will be the second National Team training camp of the year, and it's amazing to me how fast things have gotten underway. In fact, it's not just this year that's flying by...

Four years ago, I graduated from college and began pursuing biathlon full-time. It doesn't seem like that long ago, but I was recently reminded just how much can change so quickly. My time in biathlon has been full of trials and triumphs, not the least of which was making the 2010 Olympic Team. One of my biggest supporters along the way has been my younger brother, who, incidentally, entered into his own journey 4 years ago when he started college. A couple weeks ago, he graduated with a degree in Architecture from Yale University. I couldn't be more proud of him and what he's accomplished. Congratulations, Luke...and thanks for all your love and support! I can't wait to see where you go from here.

Luke, heading to Graduation!

The good news is that the rain has been letting up, and summer seems in full-swing. I'm looking forward to a trip home, and by the way June snuck up on me, July will fly by and our August camp in Europe will be here before I know it. Keep checking in...I'll be training hard as always!

My family celebrating Luke's graduation. What better excuse to get us all together?!

May 6, 2011

Back to It

My spring break is over, and I'm back in Lake Placid after a relaxing month at home and on vacation around the west and in Mexico. It was really nice to be away from the OTC for a while and see my family, but it's also nice to be back in the rhythm of training. A new season has started, and with it have come some surprises.

Getting glittered up at a Fast and Female event in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Getting in some shooting training at a fair in Mexico.

The coming months and season will be a different one for me as my boyfriend, companion and training partner Zach Hall has decided to retire from biathlon. He's excited about the chance to do something different, but it will mean some adjustments for me. Perhaps I'll be doing more training in Alaska...

Zach and me in Mexico.

Another change in the team is the retirement of Haley Johnson. She will be missed next year, but as all athletes know, sometimes it's just time for a change. We all wish her the best.

Perhaps the biggest difference this year is harder to see from the outside. The women's team underwent several big changes last year: mid-summer we got a new coach, we had three women qualify for mass start races throughout the year (among other stellar team results), and we gained one more World Cup start spot. This year, we are beginning things with new confidence, and a sturdy coaching staff that will allow us to begin quality and consistent work right away. It's a very exciting time for the USBA women, and I'm looking forward to beginning this new season on the right foot.

Already back to dry-fire...

So far, it's been a very rainy spring in Lake Placid. Hopefully sun will return to the north country soon, but in the meantime, we'll be training full-time and trying not to float away!

March 29, 2011

The Finish Line

Oslo-Holmenkollen finish line - the end of a long but fantastic season!

The season is finally over; "finally" in the sense that it has been a long one, not to say I'm relieved to see it done. While I'm certainly excited for some down-time, this has been an amazing season. I saw a huge jump in my results and have readjusted my perspective and goals in a positive way. I'm leaving this season behind more motivated and energized as I look towards the seasons to come. This is just the beginning of an exciting road to Sochi.

A fan's Good Luck sign for Haley and me in Oslo before the mass start.

That said, I've taken the typical post-season road and promptly became sick as soon as I arrived home in Boise last week. The good thing about being sick in the off-season is that you don't worry about it, the bad thing is that you don't feel good when you should be out enjoying all the things you don't get to while racing. There are worse things than spending your days drinking tea and cuddling up on the couch with a book.

Already I'm looking towards the coming training season, though. Things will ramp up with a camp in Lake Placid in May, though training will begin before then on my own. Until then, though, I'll be enjoying my time off-sleeping, reading and just generally relaxing!

March 19, 2011

Well, I was in 8th place...

Unfortunately, I can't say I stayed there. Let me explain.

The Sprint in Oslo on Thursday went well. I had one penalty and finished 23rd-just 0.7 seconds behind my teammate, Haley Johnson. Today was the pursuit, and it was really exciting having the two of us starting so close. I shot well, with only 1 penalty in the first three stages. Leaving the range after cleaning my first standing shooting, I heard the announcer say I was in 8th position. I focused on skiing my own race, and tried to catch a ride when another woman passed me out on the trail. As I came in to shoot, I tried to think about my own race and doing things the same as any other stage, and not about the fact that I would be shooting on point 9...because I was in 9th place. Unfortunately, my legs and my nerves did not cooperate and I missed 3 targets. I was able to have a solid last loop and finished in 20th place. Haley also had a solid result, finishing just behind in 21st. It was an amazing experience for me, one that I will learn a lot from and certainly benefit from in the future. I would have loved to have shot better in the final stage, but even so it was a great race. And next time, I'll be better prepared and hopefully things will go differently. It really allowed me to see what's possible and where I should strive for next season.

The course in Holmenkollen overlooking Oslo.

The best part of the results was that both Haley and I qualified for the Mass Start tomorrow. It's the first time, perhaps ever, that two US women have started a World Cup Mass Start. It will be a tough race at the end of a long season, but it will be a great way to end this fantastic year. And then-back to the US for some much deserved rest and relaxation! Just one more time!