Unless you have been living in a bubble, you know the 2014 Winter Olympics are in full swing. There are some amazing American athletes with high hopes of bringing home the gold, but Tracy and Lanny Barnes, USA’s twin Olympian biathletes, were making headlines well before any American stepped foot in Sochi. While only Lanny will be competing in Sochi, it is by no means because her twin sister, Tracy, was not deserving of representing the Country. Tracy was originally the one who earned a spot on the team. Due to an extremely disappointing illness during the trials, Lanny was not able to perform to her full potential and didn’t make the team. Tracy completely shocked her sister with, what was more of a demand than a request, that Lanny take Tracy’s spot on the Olympic team and head to Sochi. It is one of the most selfless and inspirational things a person can do. Lanny reluctantly agreed, and now she sits in Sochi waiting for her chance to make not just America, but mostly her sister proud of the opportunity in front of her. I was lucky enough to be able to catch up with Lanny and ask her a few questions about life in Sochi, as well as just a bit about who she is aside from being an Olympic Athlete, which if you love to hunt and fish, you may be surprised to learn how much you actually have in common with an Olympian.
Lanny describes the vibe in Sochi as full of excitement, even more than usual for the Olympics. She said the Russian people are so excited to have the Olympics in their home country that she hasn’t seen a single Russian who isn’t singing or dancing. The atmosphere of the Olympics allows Lanny to find motivation just about anywhere. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of where she is and how big this moment is. This is on top of motivation she pulls from family, friends, and sponsors back home. “This year I also have double the motivation because of what Tracy did for me.”
Being a couple kids that grew up doing lots of sports and activities outside, they also learned to shoot at an early age from their father, who was a big time hunter and shooter. “So when we discovered biathlon, it seemed to be the perfect fit for two girls who liked to shoot while on the run.” Thus far, that discovery has taken them on a 15-year journey of dedicating themselves to a training and competition schedule so rigorous that it leaves them no time for a job, but training 6 days a week, twice a day, year-round, which is what Lanny says it takes to stay competitive with their European counterparts and to be able to make it to the big stage she has in front of her now.
The dedication put into becoming the Olympic athlete Lanny is today is amazing, but it’s her answer to my question asking what she would be doing with her life if she wasn’t a biathlete that will strike a chord with many of you and give you a glimpse into the “other” passion of this female Olympic Biathlete. “Too bad hunting isn’t an Olympic sport because I would probably be doing that. Hunting is my biggest passion, but I love art as well, so I’d probably try and be an artist to support my hunting J.” Even the most hard-core hunters out there will respect how proud she is that everything she does is DIY, no guides, no tree stands, just 100% spot and stalk. She doesn’t care about bagging the biggest animal out there. She is content with just getting to be out there experiencing things in nature that most people only get to see on TV.
In hearing about how intense her biathlon training is, I couldn’t help but ask if she has ever thought about biathlon training as the ultimate hunting training. “I have always said that hunting has made me a better biathlete and being a biathlete has for sure made me a better hunter. Because of biathlon I have the confidence to run as hard as I can up a hill above 12,000 ft and take a good ethical shot even if my heart is beating out of my chest. It has also allowed me to be calmer under pressure of the hunt and more relaxed when I have to take a good shot on an animal.” Mastering the art of relaxation is the best piece of shooting advice she would give anyone. “From target shooting to hunting big game, if you can find a way to relax, you will be a lot more successful.”
So as you can see Lanny is not just representing The United States, but also the outdoor lifestyle that we all love. She is an open supporter of hunting, fishing, and the outdoor lifestyle, so let’s all rally together and root on a fellow sportsman, American, and amazing Olympic Athlete.
Please check your local listings for dates and times of Lanny’s upcoming races at http://www.nbcolympics.com/tv-listings#14
For more information about Tracy and Lanny, Twin Biathletes, please visit them at http://twinbiathletes.com/Welcome.html