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A Biathlon Competitor Preps For The Games

Our Pre-Beijing Chat With Dani Aravich

Backcountry partners with the National Ability Center (NAC) around our shared mission of breaking down barriers to the outdoors. Based in Park City, Utah, the NAC empowers individuals of all abilities from across the globe through outdoor recreation. To support their work, we feature stories about adaptive athletes and serve as an outfitter of NAC athletes and guides.

Our friend Dani Aravich is back with us to chat about her experience competing in Tokyo and her preparation for the Winter Games. After competing in track during the Summer Games, her focus has switched gears to Nordic skiing for Beijing. Read on to find out how she’s training with the National Ability Center, what her hopes are, and how she’s using her experiences to drive her forward.

So, how did things go in Tokyo?

Things did not go as I expected in Tokyo. The experience was tough, emotional, and had some road bumps. I was not happy with my race, and it took me some time to process how I felt about it.

Did you learn anything you’ll apply as you prepare for the Winter Games?

I am so grateful that I had that experience in Tokyo because I think it will better prepare me for Beijing. I now know how to overcome some of the negative and overwhelming emotions that coincide with such a huge sporting event. I hope to better prepare to deal with the pressure of the high-stakes event.

The last time we talked you were focused on track & field—how has your training changed to focus on Nordic skiing?

So many more training hours! My track training was about 10 hours a week, whereas my ski training is up to 20 a week!

Are you gravitating toward one sport more than the other? 

I can’t say which sport I will prioritize over the other in the future. My focus is solely on Nordic skiing and biathlon until Beijing is over, but after that, I will have to re-evaluate where I stand with track.

What does your training regimen look like right now?

Six days on, rest day on Mondays. Two intensity sessions on skis a week. One two-hour-plus ski. Two weight lifting sessions a week, always starting with plyometric circuits to work on balancing on one leg. One on-range biathlon session a week doing ski combos.  One strictly shooting session a week. Few shakeout jogs. Depending on if my knee flares up, might do some indoor spin bike in place of a different workout!

Wow! Has the pandemic affected your training at all? 

It’s certainly made training a little trickier. With competitions being canceled or postponed and very specific regulations regarding COVID-19 procedures, we have to be more creative with our training and prioritize some things over others.

What about the lack of snow in the Mountain West—has that impacted your training?

I was racing in Canmore, Alberta, Canada in November, and the snow was wonderful there. When I returned to Bozeman, MT, where I now live and train, I struggled with a lack of snow—frustrating since we rely on snow so much for our sport. This meant more indoor training on roller skis.

What’s your biggest training priority?

I really need to focus on shooting under pressure. In comparison to most biathletes, I have very little experience racing, so any chance I get to shoot is an opportunity to get better.  I want to be the best female standing Para-biathlete in the world by Milan 2026.

Do you have anyone you would consider a mentor?

My teammates Oksana Masters and Kendall Gretsch are gold medalists in summer AND winter sports. They have set a high standard of excellence for being dual-sport athletes. I admire their work ethic and their passion for highlighting women in sport.

What are you most excited about for the Beijing Games? 

I am so excited to continue to progress in the sport, and I hope to be competitive in the field, but I also want to be realistic. I have only been Nordic skiing for two years, so I need to be patient and enjoy learning the process. Beijing will be a great step in the direction I want to go in my career, but Milan 2026 is where I will be ready to tear it up.

What events will you ski in this Winter Games?

Sprint biathlon, sprint cross-country, middle cross-country, and maybe a relay!

What makes this different from other adaptive competitions?

The Games are the ultimate test for adaptive athletes. They are the culmination of years and years of training summed up in one electric competition. 

Read how the Games went for Dani HERE.