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Wild Shot: Struggles and successes in biathlon and cross country skiing


Mon, Sep  17, 2012 - By Mike Muha

As a high school student in Alaska, Andy Liebner won seven Junior Olympic medals. He joins the US Coast Guard but gets sent to Marquette, Michigan to train in Biathlon because of his athletic ability. In 2003 he finishes 2nd in the US Armed Forces Skiing and Biathlon National Championships, then takes a 5th and 6th the following year at the US Biathlon National Championships. He also raced in International Biathlon Union (IBU) Cup races, getting more IBU points than any other American that year.

Finally the the US Biathlon Association (USBA) signs him up -he's committed to biathlon. But a calcium deposit lead to knee surgery - and although he's recovering well and is all packed are ready to head to Lake Placid he gets an email from the USBA saying his invitation has been revoked!

What's an aspiring biathlete to do? He head to Europe to train with the best!

He sends a letter to every ski and biathlon training center in the world and ask if he can train with them. He gets invitations from several and accepts one from an accredited biathlon club in Austria. And so begins the adventure.

Wild Shot: Struggles and successes in biathlon and cross country skiing covers Andy's travels through Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland, Crete, Greece and a disastrous trip to Australia. In his travels, he trains, races, deals with visa issues, faces deportation, gets a job with Holmenkol, becomes a wax technician on the side at IBU races, has car problems, housing problems, money problems, lost luggage, and a forever missing or confiscated biathlon rifle. He can't race in any IBU races because the USBA won't assign him a slot - even though slots are open. But he does race in many FIS races and national championships throughout Europe.

This is living on the edge, just getting by.

Of course it's not all work, effort, and pain. There's fun with the Norwegian Biathlon National Team doing "extreme skiing" in deep snow with everyone laughing hysterically.

And there's the red tape: the USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) needed to know where he is every hour ("In my van down by the river") and negotiations to get support from the USBA, and forever working the visa system just to be able to stay inn Europe and ski.

All through the book, Andy keeps a can-do spirit and overcomes adversity to make lemonade out of lemons and have the adventure of his life. Andy is an engaging author and the book is a great read. I recommended it to get you motivated for this coming season!

You can get Wild Shot: Struggles and successes in biathlon and cross country skiing at or from Jeff Potter's Out Your Backdoor website. You can also get a Kindle edition from Amazon.