Biathlete Walt Shepard '10 Shoots for Winter Olympics
Story posted December 16, 2009
With his sights set on the 2010 Winter Olympics Games in Vancouver, Walt Shepard '10 has taken the year off to focus on qualifying for a spot on the U.S. Olympic biathlon team.
Shepard, of Yarmouth, Maine, has been skiing since he was a toddler, and says it has been a dream of his to compete in the Olympics. The biathlon — a combination of cross-country skiing and riflery — is an event he's trained for since high school.
"This will be my second attempt at what has been a lifelong goal of making the Olympic Team, and I am loving every minute of it," said Shepard upon returning from a month-long training camp with the National Team in Utah.
From there it was on to a 10-day camp in Fort Kent, Maine, and more training in Canmore, Alberta, Canada, before the first portion of the Olympic Team trials in Minnesota in mid-December. A small group of athletes will be chosen to compete in some World Cup races in January.
Shepard says final selections for the team will be made at the Europa Cup races in Germany two weeks before the Winter Olympics begin February 12.
"As far as potential day-to-day challenges are concerned, I try not to look at anything in those terms," says Shepard, keeping his eye on the prize he has sought for so long.
At 27, Shepard is the oldest member of his class. After high school, he postponed college in favor of dedicating himself to training for the sport. That included living in Fort Kent, Maine, home of one of the national team's training facilities, and competing in major biathlon events around the world.
Shepard arrived at Bowdoin in fall 2006, and as a member of the Nordic Ski Team, went on to win three national titles at the North American Biathlon Championships in Coleraine, Minn., in 2008.
"He's one of the best shooters in the country when he's on," says Nordic skiing coach Nathan Alsobrook. "And he's skiing faster than ever right now, so he definitely has a chance."
Coming off a season last year marked by illness and injury, Shepard is in fine form and says he has enjoyed his time away from the College to commit himself to this goal and is making the most of every moment.
"Win or lose, this will likely be my last year competing in the sport of biathlon," says Shepard.
"After nearly 15 years of racing, I want make sure that every experience this season is a meaningful one. I'm hoping that culminates in an Olympic berth, but if it doesn't I will at least be able to say that the year was still a success. Adopting this attitude has made the whole process much more enjoyable, and it has also facilitated great gains in my training."
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