NBC Olympics.com - Biathlon beginnings
Before she ever considered picking up a biathlon rifle Clare Egan's athletic life could be best described as nomadic, which is not unlike the life she now leads.
The many twists and turns which led her to biathlon go something like this: cross-country ski raced as a teenager in Maine, after graduating high school she attended Wellesley College - where they had no ski team - to run outdoor track and cross-country, started her own ski club at Wellesley, became Wellesley's first All-American in outdoor track, took a year off from track to study abroad in Switzerland and Italy, returned home from Europe, qualified for the NCAA cross-country skiing national championship as an individual in 2010, finished in the top 30 at those national championships, transferred to the University of New Hampshire to use her remaining year of eligibility to run track as well as ski on the Wildcat's varsity team, started her graduate studies in linguistics at UNH and was named the MVP of the UNH women's Nordic team.
To build on her cross-country success at national championships after the 2010-11 season was up, Egan applied to and was accepted into the respected Vermont post-collegiate club team - based at an outdoor center owned by two former U.S. Olympic rowers - known as the Craftsbury Green Racing Project. At Craftsbury, she was asked to train at a level she had never experienced. According to Egan, her transition into the life of an elite cross-country skier was a significant challenge.
Two full years after moving to Vermont, and now 25 years old, Egan was asked if she would like to learn to shoot a biathlon rifle. Her teacher was biathlon Olympic gold medalist Algis Shalna, who competed for the Soviet Union in the relay at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics. Inspired by the World Cup biathlon successes of her Green Racing Project teammates Hannah Dreissigacker and Susan Dunklee, Egan made the decidion to become a full-time biathlete. She raced in her first biathlon race in 2013.
Still in the hunt for her first World Cup or World Champs podium, Egan raced in her most successful World Championship races in 2017. She finished three of her four individual races in the top 25, while helping the U.S. women's relay team to a 14th place finish.
On the World Cup, two 8th place finishes in the mixed relay during the 2016-17 season account for her most successful races.
"Lesson number one from Algis [Shalna] was, 'Do not try to hit the target.' Once he explained it, it made sense."
Egan will compete in her first Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
On her blog, Egan recounted her Olympic qualification in the post titled, "Biathlon Nightmare, Olympic Dream." She explained the difficulty in celebrating her qualification to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team after she, as she put it, "finished my worst race in years."
"I felt anything but triumphant, Egan wrote.
"I had just finished my worst race in years, I was leaving the first trimester of racing with fewer World Cup points than I've had in any other year, and I took zero pleasure in Emily [Dreissigacker's] bad race. I was sick and tired."
A trip home for the holidays in December helped lift Egan's spirits as she looks ahead to turning her World Cup season around and her debut at the Olympics.
Egan has a masters in linguistics and can speak five languages. In addition to her biathlon preparations for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, she is working on her Korean.
On social media, she proudly displays her whimsical love for the stout-bodied, mud-loving, cloven-hoofed mammal, better known as a pig. It all started when her grandmother gave Egan a stuffed pig as a gift, which she promptly named Hildabeast.