March 29th, 2011

American Tracy Barnes Wins World Biathlon Shoot-Out

Tracy Barnes of Durango, Colorado beat the very best biathletes in the world in the Shoot-Out phase the Veltins World Team Challenge in Schalke, Germany. The World Team Challenge, held annually in the Veltins Arena, is the equivalent of the SuperBowl of Biathlon. Tracy grabbed top honors in the prestigious Shoot-Out event, a shooting competition for the top 20 biathletes in the world. In this invitation-only event, 10 women competed head-to-head in a four-stage shooting event duplicating the format for a regular biathlon race (two prone, two standing). In the final round of competition, the top three ladies from the preliminary round face off with the top three men from the mens’ first round. Tracy came in 1st for the women’s round AND 1st in the final competition!

Veltins World Team Challenge Shoot-Out

Laser Rifles Used in Shoot-Out
This year, the athletes and the 50,000 spectators at the Veltins Soccer Stadium had to adjust to something new — this was the first time that laser-rifles replaced the traditional .22-caliber rifle. The athletes received their laser-rifles on Saturday and had only one day to practice before the World Team Challenge. Tracy and her U.S. teammate Tim Burke finished 9th in the pairs mass start and 10th in the pursuit race held the same day. Tracy’s personal support team (her husband Gary and her Dad) accompanied her to Germany for this major biathlon event. [Editor’s note: While we don’t want to diminish Tracy’s accomplishment in any way, we think it is unfortunate that event organizers mandated laser guns instead of .22 LR rimfire rifles. Biathlon started as a military training competition. To change from actual shooting to “lasering” is a step in the wrong direction in our opinion.]

Lanny Barnes Stars in Mammoth Lakes Biathlon Festival
Meanwhile, back in the USA, Tracy’s twin sister Lanny Barnes traveled to Mammoth Lakes, California on friday to help with biathlon clinics for several hundred new biathletes ages 10+ and competed in a race at a new biathlon course in Mammoth Lakes on Sunday. Due to the town receiving close to 10ft of snow during the week, flights were canceled and Lanny wasn’t able to make it in for the clinic. She helped with the kids, adults, wounded warrior, and disabled skier biathlon race on Saturday and competed in an elite race on Sunday. She won the race on Sunday that was filmed by Versus and Outdoor Channel and American Trigger Sports Network. Tracy was impressed by Mammoth Lakes — she says it is evolving into one of the best high-altitude biathlon venues in the country. With over 200+ volunteers that dug out the range buried by mountains of snow, the Mammoth Lakes crew put on one of the most professional and exciting biathlon events ever run in the United States.

Mammoth Lakes Biathlon

Twin Biathletes Continue Training for Next Winter Olympics
The twins ended their seasons after those two events and will now take a two week break before starting up their training again for the 2011/2012 season. With three short years until the next Winter Oympics, the twin will be training hard in hopes of winning gold in Sochi, Russia in 2014.

Photos provided courtesy Tracy and Lanny Barnes, rights otherwise reserved by copyright holders.
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January 27th, 2011

SHOT Show Report: Lanny Barnes, U.S. Olympic Biathlete

Lanny BarnesAt SHOT Show we had the pleasure to talk with Lanny Barnes, a member of the U.S. Olympic Biathlon Team. Along with her twin sister Tracy Barnes, Lanny hopes to compete for Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Lanny and Tracy, who hail from Durango, Colorado, learned to shoot before they could ski. That is unusual in biathlon, a sport dominated by Nordic skiing specialists who typically take up shooting only after they have started winning ski races. Under the tutelage of their father, an avid hunter, Lanny and Tracy started shooting at a very young age. Lanny and Tracy were both crack shots before they became competitive skiers. Lanny still enjoys hunting in the Colorado backcountry.

Lanny Barnes

Biathlon is Hugely Popular in Europe
Lanny gave us some new insights into the biathlon game. While biathlon is not widely followed in the United States, it is the most-watched winter sport in Europe according to Lanny. We were also surprised to learn that top-level biathletes do not try to slow their heartbeats during the shooting segment of the competition. Lanny explained that the best competitors train so they can shoot with their hearts beating about 180 times per minute.

Remarkably, with that rapid heart-rate, the movement of the muzzle is more of a flutter than a distinct, heavy rise and fall. Learning to control the amplitude of the muzzle movement with the rapid heart-beat is one of the secrets to success, Lanny tells us. An ultra-accurate, fast-cycling rifle is also very important. Like most top biathletes, Lanny shoots an Ansch├╝tz with a straight-pull Fortner action. Lanny tells us that the straight-pull action has made a big change in the sport, speeding up the firing times dramatically. But since all the top competitors can shoot so quickly with modern rifles, that has put a premium on marksmanship. Miss a shot and you may have to do a penalty loop, which can change your standing from front-runner to back of the pack.

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Check out the Twins’ Website (Donations Welcome)
Learn more about Lanny and Tracy Barnes on the twins’ website, www.twinbiathletes.com. Though biathlon is a winter sport, Lanny and Tracy train year-round. This requires great commitment and dedication. The Barnes’ quest to compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics also demands a significant budget. If you wish to help Lanny and Tracy in their bid to represent the USA in 2014, you can make a donation (via PayPal) on www.twinbiathletes.com.

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