Wissler 2nd in Biathlon Nationals

Bella Wissler ‘23 at the biathlon range in Lake Placid (photo provided).

Bella Wissler ’23 recently placed 2nd in her age group at the Biathlon National Championships in Lake Placid. Biathlon is a winter sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.

In a biathlon competition, athletes are required to Nordic ski a loop then go into a range to shoot 30 targets as quickly as they can using a .22 caliber long rifle. There are larger targets about the size of a dinner plate and smaller targets the size of a ping pong ball. When you shoot at the larger targets you are standing and when you shoot at the smaller ones you are in prone position, laying on your stomach. Each shot you miss you must ski a penalty lap, adds time to your race. 

Wissler started as a biathlete from a young age going to kids programs her grandparents brought her to. From there she began going to Dewey Mountain Ski League in Saranac Lake, where she learned skate skiing and racing. She then had the opportunity to train at a biathlon camp at the Olympic Training Center, which led her to further pursuing the sport and eventually training full time. 

Bella trains six days a week, usually resting on Monday. During the summer her training is most intense and during the winter the training is less intense as she prepares for competitions.

Going forward Bella is hoping to continue training with her coach in Vermont who is an Olympic gold medalist. For her next goal she states, “My soon goal is to go to junior worlds over in Europe, I would qualify for that in December.” After worlds, she hopes to join the International Biathlon Union World Cup, which has season-long competitions and is the highest level of competition for biathlons, even bigger than the Olympics.


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