From U23 to 2018 Winter Olympian: Emily Dreissigacker

In late July 2010, Emily Dreissigacker backed into the starting gate to compete for the United States at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships, racing in the women’s quadruple sculls. Tomorrow in PyeongChang, Dreissigacker will don the Stars and Stripes once more to compete for Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics — this time in the biathlon.

After a hand injury ended her rowing career, Dreissigacker hadn’t lost her competitive itch. With her family running the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, cross-country skiing seemed to be a perfect avenue to explore. A knack for shooting led Dreissigacker to compete on the IBU World Cup circuit, where she eventually earned a spot on U.S. Biathlon’s 2018 Winter Olympic Team.

U.S. Biathlon posts, “Biathlon is a sport that captures the attention and imagination of everyone who sees it. In so many ways, it is a classic Olympic endeavor — combining the most physically demanding sport of cross-country skiing with the intense precision of rifle marksmanship. These opposing disciplines collide at the shooting range. With their hearts pounding nearly three times a second, the athletes struggle to control their breathing as they shoot, knowing that every shot and the number of seconds it takes to make it, will determine who stands on the podium that day. It is this drama, combined with wonderful visual images of the competitors, which has lead biathlon to be the top rated winter sport on European TV.

In eager anticipation of watching Emily compete, we had a chance to catch up with her and ask a few questions leading up to the Games.

What have you experienced so far in training leading up to the games and what are you most excited for?

I’m most excited to race! I love this sport, and I love competing and that’s why I do this. The rest is all just a cool bonus.

Will you be attending the Opening Ceremonies? What do you anticipate?

I’m not sure yet. Our first race is the following day, so it’s something I need to discuss with my coach, but I would really like to go!

Which of the Biathlon events will you be competing in?

I will most likely be racing in the women’s sprint, individual, and relay. There is also a pursuit that you have to qualify for based on your sprint results.

Is there something about Biathlon that is a common misconception or something you wish people knew?

Biathlon is super exciting to watch! It’s actually one of the most popular winter sports in Europe. In fact, World Cup races are attended by tens of thousands of fans every weekend!

Do you feel your rowing background and experience in international competition helped prepare you for these Olympics?

It certainly made me strong. In fact, I’ve had to lose some muscle. But more than that, I think it set me up to be in a really good place mentally going into these Olympics. At the end of my rowing career, I made my peace with the idea of not going to the Olympics [for rowing], and because of that, I think I’ve been able to be much more process oriented with biathlon.


Photos courtesy of  NordicFocus/U.S. Biathlon. #OneTeamUSA

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