Heartbeat: US Biathlon Podcast

At an early age, biathlete Kelsey Dickinson’s family moved from Utah to Washington’s famed Methow Valley. The rich nordic culture of the community helped her forge a path in biathlon that took her from Washington to Sun Valley to St. Scholastica and Craftsbury. In this episode of Heartbeat, Dickinson talks about the nordic culture in the Methow Valley and her lifestyle as a globetrotting athlete with the U.S. Biathlon Team.

Show Notes

Dickinson is a fascinating young athlete. She was just six when her parents followed family friends in a move to Winthrop, Wash. at a time when the community was starting to make a splash as a premier nordic center in America. Cross country skiing became a way of life, with junior racing and high school as she forged her path in the sport.

For Dickinson, her joy of shooting came early on an impromptu range. And while she followed her skiing dreams to Sun Valley after high school, she always kept biathlon in the back of her mind. She was recruited by biathlete and coach Chad Salmela to ski at St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn. and quickly discovered another cultural hotbed of the sport in the Midwest.

Biathlon ultimately became her sport direction, moving her way up the ranks from biathlon Junior World Championships to becoming a regular on the IBU Cup. In early January, she'll be one of a select group of U.S. athletes battling for the final Olympic spots for a spot in Beijing.

One of the influencing factors in Dickinson's career has been women coaches, going back to her days in the Methow Valley and continuing on at St. Scholastic with Maria Stuber. She's channeled that passion into an organization, the Women Ski Coaches Association, which works to develop, retain, and advance women in ski coaching leadership.

What is Heartbeat: US Biathlon Podcast?

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.

Heartbeat S2 Ep4 Kelsey Dickinson TRANSCRIPT
Tom Kelly: [00:00:00] Kelsey Dickinson, welcome to Heartbeat, the U.S. Biathlon podcast. Great to have you here.

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:00:05] Yeah. Thanks, Tom, for having me. I'm happy to be here.

Tom Kelly: [00:00:08] Now I know I appreciate you taking time today. It's been a busy day. You actually are racing. You're out at Craftsbury right now and in the middle of your IBU Cup trials. And how is how are things going out at Craftsbury for you?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:00:21] Good. We just had the first day of racing. Craftsbury always puts on a great race, the snow, the skiing was terrific. The grooming was amazing. It was a beautiful day. You know, probably temperatures in like the mid 20s and sunny, not a lot of wind. So you couldn't have asked for better conditions. I had a very solid race. I was very happy with it, especially after coming off of two weeks in Europe and needing some time to recover from that. So I'm happy that I feel like I've bounced back.

Tom Kelly: [00:00:54] Now you're bouncing around a little bit right now. You just spent the first couple of weeks of the season on the IBU Cup. Over in Europe, you're back at Craftsbury for the trials. No going home to Washington for Christmas. Hopefully, you're going to be spending your Christmas over in Europe, right?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:01:10] Yeah. The plan tentatively is to go to Ramsau in Austria for Christmas. But yeah, it's hard to get home back to the Methow. It's a bit of travel in the wrong direction.

Tom Kelly: [00:01:22] Well, it's a nice base in Craftsbury. I know it's worked out well for a lot of the U.S. biathlon athletes. Let's talk first about your goals and ambitions for this season. This is an Olympic year and everyone has different levels of expectations and ambitions. But how did you approach this 2021-22 season in terms of your goals and things that you anticipate accomplishing this season?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:01:45] Yeah, you know, I think this season when I when I approached setting goals, I focus a little bit less on my objective goals and a little more on my process goals and just tried to bring things back to to what I enjoyed about the sport and how I felt like I could grow in it. You know, I'm coming off of the last two years having a pretty significant back injury that prevented me from training and competing at a very high level. And so, you know, just being able to race a little bit last year, given the pandemic, given my injury was more than I ever could have expected. And so this year coming into it, I just wanted to try and build back but build back even better than I had before and really use this as an opportunity to see what I could do and not take anything for granted. And just kind of. You know, really aspire to be the best biathlete that I could be.

Tom Kelly: [00:02:42] When you when you talk about process goals, Kelsey, how does that overlay into your ultimate objective goals and how how do you make those to work together?I

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:02:54] It's really easy to get caught into thinking about certain races and certain, I mean, to be fair, yes, being a high level athlete means that you need to perform well at certain times. But I think for me, if I'm doing the things right and at the right time, then the rest will kind of take care of itself. So sure, like I definitely have the goal of making the Olympic team this year. I really would like to raise a World Cup. I've gotten close a number of times and have still yet to do that. But process goals for me look like, all right, like where can I improve? Where like, how can I make my shooting time faster? How can I bring? Last year, my goal was to be an 80 percent shooter in this year. It's like, All right, how can I? What can I do to be a 90 percent shooter? And looking at those details that when they all come together, that's what gets you to those race benchmarks that you're looking for.

Tom Kelly: [00:03:48] Yeah. When you look back at your results over the years and I'm kind of getting to the importance of shooting, the importance of skiing and how you create that balance. But what have been the things that have made the biggest difference for you when you've had success in the past? Has it been your shooting? Has it been your skiing or has it been the good combination of the two of them on a given day?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:04:12] And I think it's always kind of is dynamic. Like we joke in the biathlon world that sometimes when you're skiing really well, you're not shooting very well and vice versa. I think historically I've been able to kind of rely on my shooting. It's been consistent. I feel like I've always been a pretty fast shooter, although I've been working to be even faster. And I feel like while I might not always be the best shooter in training, I have a good sort of execution mode that I can find for races.

Tom Kelly: [00:04:47] Yeah. Let's talk about your career and just to preview it a little bit. It's fascinating to look at what your pathway has been. You grew up in the Metro Valley in Washington, one of the great hotbeds for skiing in America. You went on to the program in Sun Valley. You ended up at St. Scholastica College in Duluth, another great ski program. And now you're basing out of Craftsbury. So you've been able to hit some of these really great places during your career. But let's go back to the beginning. And how did you first get into skiing back in Washington?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:05:22] Well, I think it was primarily daycare or child care for my parents like they would. I remember being, you know, I was like five. I don't think the Nordic team really had a program for kids that young. But it kind of started for myself in a couple of my friends. We would just get dropped off there and our snow suits and our skis, and we would just ski. So that's kind of when I started skiing. And, you know, my parents have always really loved skiing. We moved to the metro because of Sean and Laura McCabe, who are really dear friends of my parents. And they had said, like, look, you know, I was born in Salt Lake City. We were living in Park City and they're like, look, this is going to be a really amazing place to raise your kids. You should come here. So that's sort of how I started skiing and then being part of the nordic team was just like, what we did, you know, it was just kind of like. It was just my parents coach. It was kind of just an expectation. I can't say that I really liked it. I was actually really I was the back of the pack, which I think I was very competitive and I did not like being last in every race, but I was certainly last in most races. But getting to have role models like Sadie Bjornsen and Casey Kutz and you know, and Erik and, you know, just other people around me, I feel like I had a really good peer group of people that were a little bit older than me and my same age that were really into it. So by the time I became a J2 and we started going to ski camp in the summer, that's when it clicked for me and I was like, I want to be good at this. This is what I want to do. And so then it kind of took off from there,

Tom Kelly: [00:07:06] You know, as you look back on it now and you've gotten a little bit older. One of the things for me that really makes some of these places around America so distinctive over time, and I look back to Putney, Vermont, back many years ago. Sun Valley is another example. These places where there is this amazing culture for nordic skiing and that really is what grew up in the Methow Valley, isn't it?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:07:28] Yeah. I mean, I think that there's just a lot of really strong skiers there and people that are really invested in the community. We don't really have a local alpine hill. But the trail network there is amazing. Like, I can't think of anything else I would want to be doing even now. Like skiing in the Methow is my happy place. So I think just having a lot of families, you know, having that kind of critical mass of families that weren't really it wasn't it wasn't a competitive thing. It was just like, This is what this is, what we do after school. You know, it's not like, I think I'm lucky. I feel lucky that it wasn't something that I was needing to do to be good at initially. It was just for fun. You know, we would build jumps, you know, like Flash Clark, would you just go out with a shovel and just, you know, we wouldn't even ski that day. We would just go off jumps. But then I learned how to be really comfortable on my skis. We would do downhill practice. You know, it was just very … about loving the sport and having it be sort of a life, a lifestyle sport.

Tom Kelly: [00:08:33] And you actually got into biathlon while you were there, and I know your range may not be that sophisticated, but it was functional and it was enough to get you into the sport and understand shooting.

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:08:44] Yeah, the range has definitely come a long way now. Betsy actually has a Oh, I'm going to at least eight to twelve point range now at the local high school. She that was a big project that her and Casey did to get that going. But when I was there, when I first started doing biathlon, it was like Saturday or Sunday. We woud we would all trek out there. We would have to go all our sleds up and pull them out to the range and set them up. It took, you know, it took most of the day to do a biathlon practice, but it was just fun. I just remember like having snowball fights and I just I did it because I wanted to hang out with my friends. And it was, you know, it wasn't a very intense environment, which I also kind of liked and. Yeah, so being able to just be I think the mentor has done a really good job of creating a space where people can do both where you can ski and then also learn the skills of biathlon on the side because I think that really is valuable later and later in your career.

Tom Kelly: [00:09:50] So as your competitive career progressed, you ended up at Sun Valley for a few years, and how did how did you land there and what did that add to your pathway?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:10:01] Yeah, I think that, you know, there was another girl on the team that the year before or a couple of years before had done the same thing where she did her part of her senior year in Sun Valley. I think just to like ski with a different with a, you know, I wouldn't necessarily say more competitive club, but I think at the time, maybe they were having a little bit. They had a larger critical mass of like girls skiing that we're doing really well. And, you know, I was a moody high schooler. I wanted to do something different, so I decided I wanted to do that as well. And that was sort of the time where I was starting to have better results. And really, I really wanted to kind of go somewhere and feel like I was really starting to do something for my skiing competitively. And, you know, and I didn't do biathlon, they didn't have any support to do biathlon. And at that time, I was just sort of like, I don't know if I'm going to end up doing biathlon. I just want to ski. I want to be a really good skier and I got a lot better. I like showed up by far the slowest person there and then just kind of worked really hard and started having some good results as a junior that I hadn't really had before. And so I ended up staying there for most.

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:11:18] For my senior year, I actually ended up going home to graduate from my local high school just because I wanted to graduate from there. But I went back then the next year for a post-graduate year because I ended up well as a long story. But I ended up having a concussion right when I was supposed to decide when I was going to college and couldn't. And so I ended up just being. I had been considering a gap year and I was like, Oh, I'll just take that. And then at the end of that gap year, I got really bad compartment syndrome and had to have surgery. And after I had surgery, I was at home recovering. I was really bored because I couldn't really do anything, and I decided to start shooting just for fun to like, entertain myself. And we had a biathlon target in the backyard of when we wouldn't go to the range out in Mazama, we had just one target in the backyard of a friend's house. And so I would just go there with that and just shoot and then I was like, You know, maybe, maybe I'll actually try and do biathlon this year. And that was I had decided to go to Scholastica, and I knew Chad was would be supportive of that. And so I was made the goal of making World Juniors that year, and I didn't actually make World Juniors, but I make

Tom Kelly: [00:12:29] World juniors with cross-country or biathlon

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:12:32] Biathlon. You know, after I had surgery in the spring of 2012 and then I went to school in that fall and I was shooting all summer because I couldn't because I didn't have a lot else to do, given how because I had all eight of my compartments released. And and so then, yeah, I was like, Oh, I'll try and make World Juniors for biathlon that year. So.

Tom Kelly: [00:12:56] What prompted your initial decision to go to St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota, long ways from home?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:13:02] Yeah, well, I was always planning on, you know? I mean, Washington doesn't really have a wall, a wall I used to have a or Whitman used to have a cross country program, but that had gone defunct by the time I was wanting to be in college and I knew I wanted to ski in college. And when I was in Sun Valley, it was sort of like everyone was going out east. Everyone was looking at the Ivy League schools like Dartmouth and Middlebury and Bates and I was too. But then I had Brian and Caitlin Gregg sit me down and they were like, look, you need to look at the Midwest like it's it's really growing. It's a really good place. You're going to get a lot of support. The racing opportunities are awesome, and the Midwest is just a really it's a really cool place to be a skier. And I was like, OK, sure. So my dad and I went on a college tour. We went to all the places and I just like I really connected with Chad. And that was one of the other things Brian and Caitlin had told me was they were like, Chad has a really up and coming program. You really want to be a part of it. And I really connected with Chad. I really connected with the team. They just immediately made me feel like one of them. And I just felt like at home there, you know? And so then I decided to go to Alaska, you know, after some, after all applications and decision making and all that. And I have to say, I'm very happy with that decision. And I fell in love with the Midwest like, I'm so happy. I got to live in Duluth for almost six years on and off, and I just couldn't have imagined not having that experience in my life.

Tom Kelly: [00:14:39] Yeah, it's being a native Midwesterner myself, I know what you're talking about, and it's the culture for Nordic Sport, it's just rampant there, isn't it everywhere you go?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:14:49] Yeah, I mean, I remember going to watch like a J.V. High School race, you know, where I grew up, it was all club racing. We didn't really like Oregon had their own kind of high school program, but we didn't have any high school racing outside of our clubs. And I remember going to a JV race and it was like not even room. There was no markings and they were just kids like racing and jeans and cotton sweatshirts. And I was like, This is like, this is what skiing is about. This is what it should be. It's just anyone can do it. You know, it's everyone was doing it. It wasn't. It wasn't just for like the dorky kids like it, you know, like it had been. I felt like at times when I was going to high school. So yeah, it was really special to see that

Tom Kelly: [00:15:33] Be part of it is really a way of it is really a way of life. There was was Chad then influential in eventually maybe pointing you a little bit more towards biathlon after college?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:15:46] Well, so Chad was my coach for like. Well, you know, I actually ended up taking a little bit of time off in the middle of college to pursue biathlon. And Chad was my coach for the first part of that. And then when I came back, Maria Stuber had taken over. So I kind of had two different college coaches. And I think though, the thing that they both did was they supported me to do biathlon because it meant, you know, sometimes I had to miss college races. And if I was, you know, it's a lot to ask a coach to let one of your scoring athletes just go off and do something else. But Chad has always, you know, and he did this with Paul, too. He's always playing. He saw he had such a vision for the long game like he knew that he could have sure done something different with their training. That might have made us faster in the moment, but then burned us out later. And I remember having a conversation with him where he was like, Look like I wanted to set you up with a development you needed so that you could be successful after this because he saw that I wanted to do that. And then similarly, with Maria, she was just unwaveringly supportive of me during some very challenging times where I was trying to pursue biathlon, and it wasn't going very well at times, you know, and she she just was kind of like, We're going to we're going to get through this, we're going to do it. And then she ultimately is the one that pushed me to come to crossbreed for the summer before my senior year of college, I joined the team, and that's when I really connected with Chris in the community and decided that I wanted to come here after college.

Tom Kelly: [00:17:20] How long have you been at Craftsbury now?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:17:23] That's a great question. I started here while I was here the summer of 2017, and then I started full time, the spring of 2018. So I feel like with COVID, I'm just have no sense of time. Like it's like, this will be my fourth year, right?

Tom Kelly: [00:17:43] Yeah, it's I mean, the number of years isn't so important, but what I wanted to get to is it again, well, we talked about earlier with the culture in the Methow Valley. You have a really amazing culture at craft spring, particularly for a biathlon. It's been a little bit of a melting pot for different athletes to come together. You had a great program during COVID, you were able to keep something going. How important is that been to you as an athlete making her way up to the top to have a home like that where you have other athletes and facilities to really help your development?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:18:16] I mean, I wouldn't be doing biathlon if I wasn't here. I mean, financially, it's very challenging to support yourself and I. I don't know how I could have done it otherwise. So I'm very grateful that I can be here and also I think it's really important, especially when you're developing athlete kind of on and off the bubble and you know, you make some trips, you don't make others. It's really easy to get roped into thinking that your self-worth depends on if you're making teams or not. And to have a home base where it doesn't, where they're going to support you, regardless of how you're performing and they believe in you is super empowering. So I think that having this really awesome training group, having the rowing team in the cross country team and the biathlon team and having a lot of athletes. Working really hard towards different but also common goals, I think for me is super exciting because I'm all about team like I just nothing gets me more fired up than feeling really supported by my teammates and being able to support them. So.

Tom Kelly: [00:19:21] Yeah, you make some really good points about it. I want to talk about the IBU Cup and for those who may not be familiar with it. Can you give us just an initial description of the IBU Cup, the importance of it and how it fits into the overall world of biathlon competition?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:19:37] Yeah, I would say it's a little misleading because it's called the IBU Cup and the World Cup is called the BMW IBU World Cup, so people often get a little bit confused. But my how I would describe it is it's basically a tier of racing that goes on right below the World Cup that is kind of the feeder for a role for the World Cup. So athletes are often going up and down depending on results, and it's a way for kind of developing athletes to kind of start racing, get some experience and then be able to transition more seamlessly into the world to World Cup racing. The level of competition is incredibly high. Oftentimes, people who are in the top 10 on the IBU Cup will go and be in the top 10 on the World Cup the next weekend. And the depth of especially, it seems like even in the last two years, the depth of competition has really increased for that. You feel like what? I feel like a good race for me now doesn't necessarily guarantee like you're going to be in the top 10 or something. So it's I think it's just really a testament to to the level of competition and the depth that I've seen just in the, you know, I've been I think the first IBU Cup trip I qualified for was maybe in 2010, 15 or 16. And just since then, I feel like it's really the level of competition has come up a lot.

Tom Kelly: [00:21:05] Is there anything that you can attribute that to? Is this just indicative that the sport is just getting bigger and deeper across the board?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:21:13] Yeah. And I feel like smaller nations are starting to do better. And then the bigger powerhouse nations, yeah, I think there's the level as a whole is really increased. I mean, it's always been at a really high level. Don't get me wrong, it's not to devalue where biathlon has been in the past, but I just think that. The yeah, just the depth of it is just really increasing. And you see a lot more younger athletes just. You know, that's where they they're coming in really, really fast, really successful, but the national teams will sometimes keep them down from the World Cup just so they can get a little more experience. So I think you get a little more of that where you have like major talent that's sort of being cultivated before they're kind of thrown to the wolves. And so you do see some of that too.

Tom Kelly: [00:22:02] What is life like on the tour? You've just come back from two weeks. I think you had stops in Sweden and Norway on that trip, but what is life like on the tour?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:22:13] It's sort of like a traveling circus is probably the best way. It's the most. It is the most traveling circus when we're all in the airport trying to get on the same flight and there's just 50 people from like every team is there and you're just, you know, everyone, you know, it's like, you see everyone, you're like, Here we go again. So that's sort of and

Tom Kelly: [00:22:32] You've all got 10 bags ...

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:22:33] Yeah, exactly. It's always a mess. But I, you know, especially because I've been more consistently on the IBU Cup now like this this year, going to Sweden, especially after last year being a little bit truncated with COVID. I just felt like I was seeing all my friends again. Just like, you start to recognize more people and then you start. I think in the last few years we've really made an effort to become friends with other teams and talk to other women. And just and I know the men are too and just like, create some connections because I think it's a little hard when we're not, we're not always consistently over there like we miss this third IBU Cup and we're traveling from a lot farther. So we're not over there in the summer and just trying to create relationships, I think is really important. So I feel like now I know a lot of people from a lot of different teams and I've become pretty close with some of them. And that's been really, really fun to get to see all your friends over in Europe.

Tom Kelly: [00:23:34] This might be a difficult or a subjective question, but do you feel that there's a growing respect for the biathlon program in America as you relate to friends from other nations and they watch what we're trying to do here in America with the sport?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:23:48] Oh, for sure. And and, you know, for good or for bad. I think a lot of that actually. I mean, we've had better results for one, but I think our sponsorship by Maloja. Our partnership with Maloja has really transformed the image of the team. We went from kind of, I don't know it has just been ... I've made a lot of connections with people based on the fact that I'm sponsored by Maloja when, you know, when we're over there. And that was something that I never really had before. So I think that's been a big benefit of that relationship. But I also think we're doing a lot better. Like two years ago, we had someone in the flowers every weekend for the first half of the season. So I think we're definitely getting a lot more respect. You're seeing we're having good results on the World Cup, and I think people see I think people are understanding that we're a small nation or we're a small program, but we're increasingly able to produce results with with less resources. And I think that that's garnered a lot of respect.

Tom Kelly: [00:24:57] Well, I love the point that you've made there. And I think just as a little bit of an outside observer with the Maloja partnership now for the last couple of years, you really look like a team. You look like a great team. I mean, everybody looks uniform. You know, it's a great program. And I think partnerships like that really do tend to bring people together and build respect, as you said.

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:25:18] Yeah, I think that it just it's really cool to see your teammates out there and not just have it be like the Adidas kit that everyone has, you know, it's just like it's something that's unique, which I think is really cool.

Tom Kelly: [00:25:33] Cool. I want to move into a little bit of a different territory. You have your philosophy major and you have also been very engaged in sports psychology and the mental aspects of sport. How important is that? I think particularly with a sport like biathlon where I think as spectators, we can see how important it is that you have a good mindset. But tell us a little bit about your emphasis on sports psychology and how that's helped you as an athlete.

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:26:00] I mean, I think it's great that you bring this up. I think that the mental aspect of sport and is very important in biathlon, but very important in all sport. And I think the work that I've done on my mental health. You know, with sports psychology, both performance related and just life related has been probably the best thing I've done for my career. So I think it's incredibly important. I'm really happy to see that more and more athletes are speaking up about the importance of it, and it's getting more more national attention because I, you know, I look back at the athlete I was when I was younger, and I sort of I, you know, I'm like, I wish I learned all this sooner because I feel like I could have avoided a lot of suffering. That was kind of unnecessary if I had just had a little bit more self-compassion or just the ability to have a little bit of space and not get too attached to results and to attach to things. So I think that it's been a really big gift to get to work on that.

Tom Kelly: [00:27:03] Cool. The other area I know you've been very active in is women and coaching, and this is something that those of us who've worked in ski sport for many years, we know that it continues to be a very big issue. Tell us a little bit about your work with women and coaching and what you see in the future and how you can maybe impact that.

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:27:22] Yeah, I think that getting more women into coaching and skiing and you know, this could be alpine biathlon, cross-country snowboard, even, you know, I mean, just more women in coaching is incredibly important to elevate sport as a whole because we've seen, you know, there's been a lot of studies done in business showing that having women, women's voices and women that aren't afraid to speak up that are sharing their opinions just elevates it. The industry as a whole. So I with my former college coach Maria Stuber, we started this organization called the Women Ski Coaches Association, and our mission is to recruit, develop, advance and retain women in positions of ski coaching leadership. And I just, you know, I think I think for me as a young female athlete, I grew up and moved into a sport where there just weren't a lot of women in any roles in coaching and support roles. And and not that there's nothing wrong with any of the men that were there, but I just think I would have really benefited from having having another woman there to, you know, to, like, show me that I could do it and like to help support me because I think that there are some cultural things in skiing that we really need to fix. And I think that having more women in that space is going to help balance things out a bit. So I just think it's one of the most important things, and I have a lot of friends now. You know, a lot of teammates that are moving on from their competitive careers and they're taking on coaching roles. And I just want to help them succeed and give them the support that they need to be the best coaches that they can be. And I feel like this organization, we've been able to start doing that and it's been really cool to see the support that we've gotten even just in the first few years that we've been going. So, yeah,

Tom Kelly: [00:29:21] Is it a bit of a kind of a recruitment and advocacy outreach? Is that the primary thrust of this now?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:29:30] Yeah, I mean, we sort of we have a lot of buckets we call them. So like right now we have a gender equity proposal that we're working on with U.S. Ski & Snowboard to reach sort of equal quotas on for like volunteer positions on trips and camps for women. And then on the other hand, we're doing educational stuff where, you know, we've had a couple of webinars now that have been successful and we have some other projects coming down the pipeline that are geared towards developing like career development opportunities and networking. So I think we're trying to, you know, we're not trying to focus on one area or trying to see the whole spectrum of the top, top down, bottom up kind of advocacy, how that can help.

Tom Kelly: [00:30:18] Kelsey, if someone wants to get involved to help your, or there's a female coach who wants to find a pathway. Is there a place that you can direct them to get more information or to get in touch with you?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:30:30] Yeah, I mean, we have a website, it's called women ski coaches dot org, and you can email us at women's coaches at gmail.com. I run the email most of the time, so you'll probably be hearing from me. And you know, we have membership tiers, but we don't want costs to be a barrier for anyone trying to get support. So that's another great thing that they can. Anyone can reach out to us about. But the, you know, buying into the membership allows us to do our programming and, you know, send out content to our members.

Tom Kelly: [00:31:06] Cool, and for those of you listening to the podcast and don't have the ability to write down the address right now, we'll put this into the show notes and you can find that at U.S. Biathlon dot org. We're going to move into our final segment now. It's a little section that we call on target with a few questions to learn a little bit more about you and what you like, Kelsey. First of all, a simple question I ask everybody you as an athlete have had an opportunity to go to venues all over the country and all over the world. Do you have one venue that really sticks in your mind as a real favorite to you? Maybe it's because you've got a good pizza there, or maybe you had a great result, but one venue that's really a favorite for you.

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:31:42] I would say that it has to be Sjusjoen, Norway. That's where I had my first IBU Cup podium back in 2019, and I've also had some of the worst races of my life there. So it's just been a very memorable place and it's always really cozy and it's right before Christmas. So I just have really great, some really great memories about being there.

Tom Kelly: [00:32:05] It's a great little town that's not too far from Lillehammer, right?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:32:08] No, it's just like 20, 15, 20 minutes up the road.

Tom Kelly: [00:32:12] Yeah, yeah. And then you as an athlete, I know you travel a lot and you've had an opportunity to see a lot of places around the world. But if you set biathlon and ski competition aside, do you have a favorite place that you've either been to or you would love to go to?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:32:32] Well, and my teammates will all me, my favorite place in the world is definitely the metaphor, which it's cool that you can say that about your hometown and specifically the metro in the winter, I would say it's a pretty special place, but oh man, I have a long bucket list of places I want to go. I really enjoy backcountry skiing and rock climbing, so I think I'd love to actually go on vacation to the Alps or some of these places that we go and we're just down in the valley and you look up at the mountains and you're like, Man, wouldn't it be nice to go ski there? And I would love to visit places like Iceland or South America and get to do some traveling and see different cultures down there.

Tom Kelly: [00:33:15] You know, you bring up a good point as an athlete, you get to go to these amazing places, but you oftentimes don't have time to do kind of the fun things you'd really like to do.

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:33:26] Yeah, I definitely I mean, there's lots of times where I'm like, Man, I have to go sit in the hotel room and recover instead of like going on a hike up a beautiful mountain or something. So, yeah,

Tom Kelly: [00:33:38] So I know that art is really important to you. Do you have any art project that's really memorable or special to you that you've been involved with?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:33:48] And yeah, I mean, I really enjoy block printing. Art helps make me feel connected to a family friend of ours who passed away, who was my art teacher in high school, Sean McCabe, and he was a really big influence on my life. And so and block printing was one of the things that he taught us. So I always really enjoy the time I get to do that. I like to make cards, which then helps me feel connected to the people. I love that I can send them cards that I made. It's a little hard to take all of that on the road, so I usually try and just bring some drawing or color pencils with me. But I think having a creative outlet is really important. If you're a creative person or just having an outlet in general, that's not specifically sport related. When you're on the road, it's really important.

Tom Kelly: [00:34:37] And then lastly, you're involved in biathlon right now, you've been an athlete all of your life, if you had to sum up what biathlon and what being an athlete means to you in just one word, what would that be?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:34:50] I thought a lot about this, and I could think of a lot of sentences,

Tom Kelly: [00:34:56] But no sentences allowed.

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:34:59] I, you know, I think that the word that really kind of sticks out to me is teacher because I feel like biathlon has both taught me a lot about life, but also been the vehicle for which through which I have learned a lot about myself and been able to mature and become more self-aware. And I think. I, you know, I'm glad that I've had the experiences that I've had doing biathlon because I think they've made me more of a compassionate person. And so I'm happy to have had that gift.

Tom Kelly: [00:35:31] And then one last thing. It's the holiday season, would you like to just send a holiday greeting out to all of the fans of the U.S. biathlon team here on Heartbeat?

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:35:41] Well, of course. Happy holidays, everyone. I hope that you all have snow wherever you are and that you have a wonderful holiday season in New Year.

Tom Kelly: [00:35:53] Kelsey Dickinson, thank you so much, it has been a joy to talk to you here on heartbeat. All the best to you this holiday season and throughout the entire ski season coming up ahead.

Kelsey Dickinson: [00:36:03] Thanks, Tom.