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Heartbeat: US Biathlon Podcast

Sports & Recreation Podcasts

Heartbeat takes you inside the world of the unique Olympic sport of biathlon - a sport that combines the heart-pumping aerobics of cross country skiing combined with the precision element of marksmanship. The US Biathlon podcast brings you close to the athletes to dissect one of the most popularity of Olympic Winter Games sports.


United States


Heartbeat takes you inside the world of the unique Olympic sport of biathlon - a sport that combines the heart-pumping aerobics of cross country skiing combined with the precision element of marksmanship. The US Biathlon podcast brings you close to the athletes to dissect one of the most popularity of Olympic Winter Games sports.








Jack Gierhart Leads U.S. Biathlon's Next Chapter

Jack Gierhart, a highly respected Olympic sport leader, heads into his second season as president and CEO of U.S. Biathlon eager to take his first year experience and forge a pathway to the future for the fast-growing sport. In the debut episode of season four of Heartbeat, Gierhart talks about his past roles in Olympic sport and the open welcome he felt last year as he moved into biathlon. Gierhart took over as interim CEO after longtime leader Max Cobb headed to Salzburg to take over as secretary general of the International Biathlon Union. His first experience at last year’s October camp in Soldier Hollow gave him a very positive introduction to the sport with engaging conversations with athletes, coaches and parents. Heartbeat dives deep into U.S. Biathlon’s 2030 strategic plan with Gierhart, as well as detailing the recent announcement to expand the organization’s footprint into Utah as Salt Lake City eyes a return of the Winter Games in either 2030 or 2034. If you enjoy Heartbeat, make it a favorite on your podcast list and leave a short review. Now let’s dive into the opening episode of season four of Heartbeat with U.S. Biathlon President and CEO Jack Gierhart.


Maxime Germain: Breakthrough Season

Maxime Germain: A Breakthrough Season If you’re a skier or passionate outdoor enthusiast, two of the coolest places in the world are Chamonix and Alaska. U.S. Biathlon Team athlete Maxime Germain has roots in both. Germain is coming off a breakthrough season that saw him ski nearly an entire IBU World Cup season plus come home with a medal from the IBU Junior World Championships. Germain talked to Heartbeat from the Lake Placid Olympic and Paralympic Training Center, taking a break from life at an early summer team camp. “It’s sleep, eat, train, repeat,” he said laughing. “Actually, it’s a bit more than that.” One of the highlights now at the OTC is the eating phase: “Yah, they’ve really stepped up their game – awesome food.” Born in Juneau, Ak., he moved with his family to Chamonix, France when he was young, spending time in Germany and France while absorbing the culture of mountain life in the Alps. When he was 15, he moved back to Alaska, basing in Anchorage and continuing his biathlon journey. In the winter sports crazy village of Chamonix he did it all from skiing to speed skating to ski jumping. At 12, his coaches introduced him to biathlon. French Olympic biathlon champion Martin Foucade became an early hero. “He was definitely one of the reasons why I joined biathlon.” Moving back to Alaska, he was able to continue his pursuit of biathlon with a program in Anchorage. “Not gonna lie … shooting in the dark in winter … it was quite hard to get motivated.” But he did stay motivated and continued his advancement. In 2020, he was third in the sprint at the Youth World Championships in Switzerland. In 2022, he was 17th in the sprint at the Junior World Championships in Soldier Hollow. He also made his World Cup debut in Ruhpolding, Germany. This past season, he started the IBU World Cup tour at Kontiolahti, Finland and stayed on the tour much of the season. But his big memory came at the Junior World Championships in Shchuchinsk, Kazakhstan, winning bronze in the 10k sprint with just one miss on the range. On Heartbeat, Maxime talks about life in Chamonix, life in Alaska, his pride of competing for the U.S. Biathlon Team and his outlook for the future. How to Follow Maxime Instagram


Paul Schommer: Road to Recovery

Injuries are a part of sport. It’s something every athlete faces at some point. This past winter, Olympic biathlete Paul Schommer cut his season short with an early March knee surgery. In this episode of Heartbeat, he shares insights into his injury, his rehab plan to get back in top physical shape, the ways he’s managing the mental aspects and how archery has helped him stay active. Just prior to the season, Schommer felt a twinge in his left knee during a workout. He tried to put it out of his mind, but it was real. But he was able to ski so he headed to the IBU World Cup tour and eventually the World Championships. Having had knee surgery in 2019, he knew what was in store. And it helped that wife Jillian was a budding orthopedic surgeon herself, finishing up her residency in Sioux Falls, S.D. A Wisconsin native, Schommer grew up loving the outdoors. He’s no stranger to guns and bows, learning skills in a family that hunted. As a part of his rehab he found himself drifting back to his childhood love of archery, even entering a spring competition in nearby Yankton, S.D. Schommer dives deep into the physical and mental aspects of rehab in this episode of Heartbeat. A veteran athlete, he has great experience to share and a positive outlook for the future. While his early March surgery cut off the last period of the World Cup, his game plan seems sound for a return to full time training later this summer and being able to hit the snow running next November. Paul Schommer on Archery “I missed archery. I missed the act of shooting. There's something meditative about it because it's quiet. It's probably similar martial arts or yoga. So I bought this bow and I just started falling in love with it all over again like I did as a kid.” How to Follow Paul Fans can follow Paul Schommer’s story on social media. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel: Average Olympian. Instagram: @paultschommer YouTube: @paultschommer (Average Olympian)


New Ariens Nordic Center

The family-owned Wisconsin company Ariens is known worldwide as the King of Snow for its reliable, hard-working snow blowers. After an introduction to biathlon at Ruhpolding, President Dan Ariens was hooked! The U.S. Biathlon sponsor has gone all in on the sport, not only supporting the team but in building the new Ariens Nordic Center in its home of Brillion, Wis. Heartbeat is joined by Managing Director Monica Ariens and Nordic Center General Manager Sean Becker for an insightful look at the new facility in eastern Wisconsin. The Ariens Nordic Center is located adjacent to Round Lake Farms on 200 acres at the outskirts of Brillion. It includes a year-round trail network for recreation, training and competition for cross country skiing, biathlon, roller skiing, running, hiking, and more. The facility, which opened for the 2022-23 season, is open to the public and includes lighting, snowmaking, a paved roller-ski loop for off-season training, a pond for snowmaking and a 20-point biathlon range. The project was several years in the making under former U.S. Biathlon President Max Cobb, with trail design by John Morton. “I’ve designed 12 of these kinds of venues around the world,” said Morton, Owner, Morton Trails. “But I think this facility is going to have the most significant positive impact on the community and the region of any of the projects I’ve done.” The new Ariens Nordic Center has really caught the attention of U.S. Biathlon stars Deedra Irwin and Paul Schommer, both of whom grew up just a short distance away and have visited the facility for groundbreakings and grand openings. “It takes a lot of people to help build a dream like this,” said Irwin. “I hope to show people you can come from a small farm community in the middle of nowhere and you can make it onto the world stage and live your dreams as a professional athlete or whatever those dreams may be. This venue is going to be really amazing for the nordic teams from one hour, two hours, even three hours away. You’ll see the U.S. Biathlon Team here a lot too. I’m excited to show our team where we came from. We’ll show them our beautiful cows.” “To see the Ariens family producing and creating this type of venue that will not only introduce kids to the sports of biathlon and cross-country skiing but who will also have the opportunity to train here at a very high level, it’s exciting," said Schommer. "I’m hopeful we’re going to see more Olympians coming out of this part of the country.” Click for more information on the Ariens Nordic Center.


Oksana Masters: The Hard Parts

One of the most successful winter Paralympic athletes with nine cross country and five biathlon Olympic medals, Team USA's Oksana Masters has documented her remarkable story in a gripping new book from Simon & Schuster: The Hard Parts: A Memoir of Courage and Triumph. In her Heartbeat interview she dives deep into her emotional story An injury has kept Masters sidelined this season, so she'll be cheering her teammates from afar at the Para Nordic World Cup Finals at the 2002 Paralympic venue of Soldier Hollow March 1-8. Born in Ukraine amidst the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, life had a rugged start for Masters. A range of birth defects caused her family to put her in an orphanage, where endured horrifying abuse. At age seven, she was adopted by an American woman, eventually undergoing surgery after surgery. Today, she is a well respected athlete and advocate for Para sport. Her story is a real testament to perseverance. She found rowing to help her build strength following the surgeries, winning a medal in the 2012 London Paralympics. Then she found nordic sport and began her medals collection at Sochi in 2014. Today, her sights are squarely set on the 2026 Paralympics in Milan/Cortina. The Hard Parts: A Memoir of Courage and Triumph is available now wherever books are sold.


Biathlon World Champs Preview

The IBU Biathlon World Championships are underway in Oberhof, Germany. For the U.S. Biathlon Team, six world championship veterans will combine with four first-timers on the U.S. Biathlon team competing Feb. 8-19. Heartbeat caught up with Head Coach Armin Auchentaller in Oberhof for a preview of the sport's annual world championships. The U.S. men’s roster boasts three members of last year’s Olympic Team with Jake Brown (St. Paul, Minn./Craftsbury Green Racing Project), Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H./National Guard Biathlon) and Paul Schommer (Appleton, Wis./Crosscut Mountain Sports Center Elite Team) teaming up on the tracks of Oberhof. This will mark Doherty’s seventh world championships, with his best finish coming in 2019 when he placed 17th in the individual. Brown will be racing in his fourth world championship and Schommer in his third. Brown had a 12th-place finish in the 2021 world championship sprint in Pokljuka, Slovenia. Rounding out the men’s team and competing in their first world championships are Maxime Germain (Chamonix-Mont Blanc, FRA/National Guard Biathlon) and Vincent Bonacci (Salt Lake City, Utah/Crosscut Mountain Sports Center Elite Team). "Our men's team features a great mix of seasoned veterans in Paul Schommer, Sean Doherty, and Jake Brown; and some talented up-and-comers in Maxime Germain and Vincent Bonacci,” said U.S. Biathlon Director of High Performance Lowell Bailey. “The three veterans have had one of their best years on record so fingers are crossed for personal bests in Oberhof.” At last month’s Open European Championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, Germain recorded two top-20 finishes, placing 15th in the sprint and 13th in the pursuit. “Maxime and Vincent continue to break new records on the IBU Cup and the world cup,” added Bailey. “Maxime is still a junior and, of course, he is focused on top results at the IBU Youth & Junior World Championships. Nevertheless, we have depth on this team, and it will be great to see how they perform not only in the individual format races but also in the relay where they have real potential for top results." “I’m stoked to be competing in my first world championships,” said Germain. “I think it’s awesome that I get the opportunity to race at this level as a junior. I liked racing here in the summer so I think adding thousands of fans will only add to the atmosphere. It will be electrifying.” The U.S. women’s roster includes 2022 Olympians Deedra Irwin (Pulaski, Wis./National Guard Biathlon) and Joanne Reid (Grand Junction, Colo.). Reid will be competing in her fifth world championships, her best result coming in 2019 with a 10th-place finish in the mass start. For Irwin, Oberhof will mark her second straight world championships. “I don't have a lot of experience racing in Oberhof,” Irwin conceded. “I haven't raced there since my first full world cup season two years ago. In the past couple years, I've gained a lot of experience racing on the world cup and after the Olympics last year, I gained more confidence in my process. I'm excited to hopefully get to world championships healthy, ready to race and see what results we can pull together as a team.” "Deedra has had a great season, posting her career-best ski speed in the most recent January world cups,” noted Bailey. “With the seventh-place Olympic Winter Games finish under her belt, we hope Deedra can build on that success in Oberhof." Joining Irwin and Reid on the women’s team will be Chloe Levins (Rutland, Vt.), Tara Geraghty-Moats (West Fairlee, Vt./Craftsbury Green Racing Project) and Kelsey Dickinson (Winthrop, Wash./Craftsbury Green Racing Project). Levins got her first taste of world championship action last year, while Geraghty-Moats and Dickinson will be competing in their first championship. Geraghty-Moats earned her position on the team as the team’s point leader for the IBU Cup and Open European Championships. She came to biathlon after competing in ski jumping at the world...


Vincent Bonacci: World Champs Debut

The IBU Biathlon World Championships in Oberhof are underway, with a U.S. Biathlon Team mixed with veterans and rookies. One of those newcomers, Vincent Bonacci, earned his spot with a strong season including an 11th in the sprint at the Open European Championships. The Utah native spoke with Heartbeat about his pathway in the sport and what he hopes to take away from his experience in Oberhof.


Tara Geraghty-Moats: Back to Biathlon

Two years ago Tara Geraghty-Moats was the number one women's nordic combined skier in the world when she made the call to return to her biathlon roots. Today, she's making her way through the IBU Cup, World Cup and now World Championships in Oberhof. The Vermont native who trains with Craftsbury Green tells her story of biathlon to ski jumping to nordic combined and back to biathlon on Heartbeat.


Fede Fontana: Inside the Wax Cabin

At any BMW IBU World Cup, the wax cabin is the heart and soul of the competition. U.S. Biathlon's legendary service technician Fede Fontana takes Heartbeat listeners behind the scenes inside the wax cabin in Antholz just hours before the competition to give us insights into his background and the role of his service team.


Sarah Lewis: World Comes to Lake Placid

This week 1,500 athletes from 50 nations are competing in Lake Placid at the biggest multisport winter event in America since the 2002 Olympics as the Adirondack village takes on tones of its own 1980 Games. On the eve of the World University Games, International University Sports Federation Deputy Secretary General Sarah Lewis talked to Heartbeat about the Games and FISU, a global organization that brings the world of college sport together internationally.


Matt Dougherty: Biathlon and Books at PSC

A small college just outside the Olympic village of Lake Placid is starting to shake up the biathlon and nordic ski world. U.S. Biathlon has named Paul Smith's College its Official Higher Education Partner. PSC coach Matt Dougherty talks with Heartbeat about the vision for the new program, as well as the upcoming FISU World University Games.


John Farra: Building the Biathlon Base

A key component of U.S. Biathlon's 2030 strategic plan is building the biathlon base. Olympian John Farra knows that landscape well. His new role as sport development director is focused on growing and supporting clubs, innovating talent ID and transfer and building education for coaches. Just a few months into the role, he talks enthusiastically about the support he's seeing in the field.


Armin Auchentaller: Season Preview

S3 Ep5 - Armin Auchentellar Tom Kelly: [00:00:00] And today, Heartbeat is taking you to the heart of Vuokatti. Finland. The training camp for the US biathlon team. Armin Auchentaller, the head coach for the men's and the women's team. Armin, thank you for joining us on Heartbeat. Armin Auchentaller: [00:00:13] Thank you. Thank you for inviting me. Tom Kelly: [00:00:16] So tell us about the conditions in Vuokatti. It sounds like training has been going very well. Armin Auchentaller: [00:00:21] Yeah, well, Vuokatti has provided a lot of manmade snow from last season, from the snow farming. And we had since [00:00:30] we arrived to Finland, nine kilometers, nine K of mammoth snow. And it's it's it was awesome. Made it look like it looks like it was one of the better places in Scandinavia this season. So we were very lucky to choose, actually, this place to go to. Tom Kelly: [00:00:49] Tell us a little bit about the snow farming for folks who might not understand this. This is actually snow that has been preserved from last season. How does that work? Armin Auchentaller: [00:00:59] Yeah, [00:01:00] they produced the snow over the over the winter. Of course, when temperatures are are the right ones and deep. So they produce it and they they make a huge snow pile. They cover it with wood, wood chips, wet chips, and basically they cover it also with a special material and preserve it over the summer. And once it's time, usually [00:01:30] here in Vuokaiit in Finland, they put the snow out around the end of October to make sure that people can train and ski early, fairly early on. Tom Kelly: [00:01:43] Do you have other teams training in Vuokatti right now? I imagine that the whole world is looking for good tracks to to ski on. Armin Auchentaller: [00:01:50] Yeah, actually, we had the German biathlon World Cup team here, man and woman. So we had actually good training conditions along with them. And [00:02:00] our athletes actually could ski with them and look what they do. And so was the Japanese team was here. Some Ukrainians are here. It's it's a good training environment. Tom Kelly: [00:02:14] Good and training has been going well for the team. Armin Auchentaller: [00:02:17] Trains is going really well. So far. We have done good work. Last weeks, ten days and everything is [00:02:30] going in a good direction. Tom Kelly: [00:02:31] So far. Good. Well, let's talk about your background, Armin. You've recently taken over as both the head men's and women's coach. You've been with the U.S. team a couple of times and we'll get to that. But let's go back to your growing up in Italy. You had the great opportunity to grow up and really the heart of biathlon in Antholz, Italy. Tell us about growing up and how you initially pursued your passion as an athlete in biathlon. Armin Auchentaller: [00:02:57] Basically, I started skiing for three [00:03:00] years and until we have slopes, the alpine slopes, but close by, But we have also a lot of cross-country, cross-country possibilities. And then around around when I was like eight or nine years old, I started basically with cross-country skiing and with nine, ten years around there. I don't remember actually. Well, it's a long time ago, but that's where I started with biathlon [00:03:30] early on, early on. Tom Kelly: [00:03:32] Good. And how did you progress as an athlete? What level did you reach? Armin Auchentaller: [00:03:36] I reached a national team level and I raised my last two years on the European Cup, which is the IBU Cup from from the modern times. So that's where where I ended up and was not a long career, but career with a lot of experiences, good experiences, which [00:04:00] I can use now as a coach. Tom Kelly: [00:04:03] How did you make it into coaching? I know a lot of athletes choose to go that route. Was this something that you had wanted to do to become a coach and to lead others with the experience that you'd gained in your...


Chloe Levins: Bouncing Back

Amidst all the biathletes training at Soldier Hollow in October, one stood out. After being sidelined for nearly the entire Olympic season with complications from COVID, she was bouncing back strong with a smile on her face heading into the 2022-23 season. Heartbeat sat down with Levins at the end of the camp as she prepared to get back to Europe with a healthy body and strong mental attitude.


Deedra Irwin: Olympics to Remember

A year ago, the Olympic season was a great unknown for Deedra Irwin, an up-and-coming biathlete. Perseverance and consistency paid off, as Irwin earned a trip to Beijing where she recorded the best finish ever for a Team USA biathlete. Irwin spoke with Heartbeat at the end of the October pre-season camp in Utah's Soldier Hollow, eager to take the momentum into the IBU World Cup biathlon tour.


Legacy of Leadership: Max Cobb

For over three decades, Max Cobb's leadership of U.S. Biathlon set a standard for Olympic sports organizations helping lead the sport to success and a solid future. As he prepares to take on leadership of the International Biathlon Union, Max talked with Heartbeat about his career, his philosophies of positivity in leadership and what he sees in the future for one of the Olympic Winter Games' most fascinating sports.


Achieving IBU TD Certification - Sara Studebaker-Hall

Growing up as a cross country ski racer in Idaho, Sara Studebaker-Hall didn't give officiating too much of a thought. But a helpful mentor pointed her in the right direction after her two-Olympic career with U.S. Biathlon. Today, she's the first U.S. woman to achieve IBU technical delegate certification. Here Sara's story and her encouragement to others on how to follow their pathway


A Distinguished Career: Leif Nordgren

In his World Cup finale at Holmenkollen this year, Leif Nordgren was hoisted onto the shoulders of his teammates, celebrating a distinguished career that took him to three Olympics. Leif talks to Heartbeat about his pathway to biathlon and what a decade on the international tour meant to him, and his plans to remain with the Vermont Army National Guard as a pilot - as well as the excitement of watching from Beijing as wife Caitlin gave birth to their first child back in Vermont.


Susan Dunklee-Clare Egan: A Sport Well Served

Both Susan Dunklee and Clare Egan had their share of top international results. But as they retire from the international tour to pursue the next chapter of their lives, both will be remembered most for the spirit and leadership they brought to biathlon. In this episode of Heartbeat, we'll hear from Susan and Clare as they ski down memory lane, speak to their futures and take us inside their own legacies in the sport.


Beijing Recap

The Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games provided some strong highlights for the U.S. Biathlon Team. Heartbeat explores Beijing with US Biathlon High Performance Director Lowell Bailey and recaps highlights of the Youth and Junior World Championships at Soldier Hollow with Development Director Tim Burke.