United States

Biathlete Maddie Phaneuf Postponed College in Pursuit of Winter Olympics

Virginia native started shooting at 15

In her pursuit of making the U.S. Biathlon National Team, Maddie Phaneuf, 22, decided to hold off on college to dedicate her time to training.

Today, Phaneuf is a member of the U.S. team and is set to compete in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Born in Fairfax, Virginia, she lived most of her early childhood in Seneca, South Carolina, where she was a competitive swimmer until she was 8 years old. Her family moved to Old Forge, New York, when she was 8, where she learned how to ski. Her first winter at Old Forge was her first experience with snow, and she fell in love. She then skied competitively all through high school, competing at Eastern Regional and Junior National competitions.

Phaneuf didn’t get into biathlon, a sport that combines skiing and rifle shooting, until she was 15, when she first picked up a rifle. Since then, she has been training for biathlon.

During her senior year in high school, she went to trial races for the Youth/Junior World Championships but didn’t make the team. When she graduated high school, she was determined to make the team, so she held off on college and moved to Maine to train and become a full-time biathlete.

In her first international competition, she shot clean, even in windy conditions, and finished in fourth place. After posting great results internationally, the United States Biathlon National X Team invited her to join them for the 2014-2015 season. She had three Top 10 finishes at the 2016 Junior World Championships. Phaneuf made her World Cup debut and continued to show potential on the international circuit, and was named to the U.S. Biathlon National A Team for the 2017-2018 season. She placed third in the Olympic team Trials and will represent Team USA in her first Olympic Games.

Besides skiing and shooting, she also enjoys rock climbing, canoeing, music, coloring and hiking.

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