Olympic biathlete promotes healthy living at Parley’s
The Parley’s Park Elementary gymnasium was filled with children running in place along with speaker and U.S. Olympic biathlete Susan Dunklee as she demonstrated to them what it’s like to compete in her event.
A biathlete must not only be an expert cross-country skier but an expert with a rifle, so Dunklee had students ski in place, stop, breathe in and out and shoot an imaginary rifle. The students applauded as Dunklee concluded her demonstration.
She spoke at Parley’s Park about her road to the Olympics and all of the hard work she has done to get to Sochi, Russia.
"I was hoping that they would get a sense of the Olympics as a shared celebration of something we all love, which is sports," Dunklee said.
Dunklee leaves for Russia in two weeks to begin the competition season leading up the winter sports world’s most prestigious event: the Olympics. Dunklee is one of three U.S. biathletes to have already met the qualifications for nomination to the U.S. Women’s Olympic biathlete team, and like any true athlete, she is excited to begin competing.
"We spend the whole winter on the road, because the World Cup has about 10 different races," Dunklee said. "Each week we are moving to a different place."
Dunklee is also a captain of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Team for Tomorrow, and her appearance at Parley’s Park was to help promote an active and healthy lifestyle to the children.
According to Dunklee, the Team for Tomorrow is comprised of 10 to 15 Olympic athletes who are interested in giving back to the community and to people in need.
"One of the ways we can give back to the community is either to visit the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs or schools," Dunklee said. "So I’m going to do a couple of different events in the coming weeks that I am really excited about."
She is also a part of a team back in her home state of Vermont called the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, a group of post-collegiate cross-country skiers, biathletes and rowers who give back to the community by promoting life-long sports and sustainability, she said.
"We want to continue to have snow," Dunklee said. "I still want there to be snow 50 years from now, for my kids and grandkids, and that is definitely being threatened."
Dunklee said her love of sports and healthy living comes from being raised by two expert athletes. Her parents were both on the University of Vermont cross-country skiing team, and her father competed in the 1976 and 1980 Winter Olympics. They got her on a pair of skis at age two, and she hasn’t stopped skiing since.
Two weeks before she graduated college, after participating in collegiate cross-country skiing for four years, Dunklee received an email from the U.S. Olympic biathlete team. She said they told her that if she dedicated her life to skiing for the next two years they would teach her how to shoot a rifle.
Dunklee accepted the offer, and after falling short of the qualifications for the last Winter Olympics, she is now ready to represent the U.S. in Russia next February.
She told the students that she never would have made it to the Olympics if she had not been disciplined, active and healthy. She said she hopes that students at Parley’s Park Elementary and across the world can become enthusiastic about doing the same.
"I would like to get them thinking of healthy lifestyles, being active, enjoying the outdoors and eating well," Dunklee said. "Park City is one of my favorite training camps of the year, so it was just fun to be able to share my experiences and my passions with the kids this time around."
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