Senior biathlete bursts onto the Olympic scene


Keenan Schember

Senior nordic skier Amanda Kautzer has found even more success in biathlon, having already qualified for the Youth Olympic Games.

Amanda Kautzer, a senior at BSM, has become quite the successful biathlete over the last few years.  The biathlon combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.  Kautzer recently qualified for the Youth and Junior World Championships (YJWC) and the Youth Olympic Games (YOG).  The YJWC competition will run from January 25-February 2 in Cheile Gradistei, Romania.  The YOG will be held in Lillehammer, Norway, with opening ceremonies happening on February 12 and the races running through February 21.  Both qualifications are huge accomplishments and everyone at BSM will be cheering for Kautzer along the way.

Amanda has been an important part of the BSM nordic ski team since she was a freshman and also trains with her club team, Loppet Nordic Racing.  In her first season of biathlon competitions, Amanda traveled to Presque Isle in Maine.  She worked hard in her first season to learn the ropes and prepare for future competitions.  “My first season of biathlon was pretty uneventful.  I went to Maine, for Youth and Junior World Championship Trials, with the expectation that I would make mistakes and learn a lot, so I had a better chance of qualifying the next year,” Kautzer said.

In her second season, Amanda traveled around the United States for more Trials and Championships.  She went to camps, including the Biathlon Nations in March and the North American Rollerski Biathlon Championships in August.  Both of those camps were in Jericho, Vermont, and she attained podium finishes at each.  That season she also participated in the YJWC Trials.  The trials were supposed to be held in Anchorage, Alaska, but were instead switched to Grand Rapids, Minnesota, because of a lack of snow.  The trials consisted of three consecutive days of racing with only the top four men and top four women in each of the youth and junior age categories qualifying for the YJWC.  Competing last year in Belarus, Kautzer placed 39th out of 90 athletes.  “For my first international race that was a huge success for me, but I have my sights set higher for this year,” Kautzer said.

This season she went to the YJWC Trials in Anchorage, despite the weather not being ideal for skiing and shooting.  She flew out Christmas Day and raced Monday, December 28, through Wednesday, the 30th.  She placed 3rd, 4th, and 2nd.  On the first day the 7.5K sprint was held, but it rained for most of the day and it was quite windy, which affected everyone’s performance. The 10K pursuit was held on the second and the course had to be adjusted because there was hardly any snow to ski on.  The last day consisted of the 6K sprint, but once again the weather and the course were not ideal.  “The course was icy and fast from rain the night before, and they had to adjust it again to move around a hill that had completely melted, and a puddle the size of a swimming pool in the middle of the course,” Kautzer said.

As stated before, Kautzer still has a lot of this season left and is looking to do very well in her upcoming competitions in Romania and Norway. Right now, Kautzer is planning to go to college and continue skiing and doing biathlon in her free time.  She is also thinking about possibly taking a gap year to focus more on biathlon or looking into the National Guard because of their biathlon program.  “Another choice is putting biathlon on pause until after college, and just skiing.  Right now, I am not making any decisions until I hear back from [my colleges],” Kautzer said.

For Kautzer, biathlon has become a big part of her life.  She loves to race her heart out and she enjoys meeting new people as she travels the world.  “My favorite part of biathlon is that feeling after a really tough race.  There are so many days in biathlon that don’t go well.  Your wax can be wrong, you’re not focused, the zero is off target, you’re tired, or a million other things, each that can mess up a race.  But when it all comes together it is such an amazing feeling to know that the hours and hours of training you’ve done have paid off,” Kautzer said.