Goessling sets his sights for the topAs the sun melted snow away every spring, Maura Goessling said her son, Raleigh, would pile up what was left in the shade. It was there, she said, her youngster would ski for hours.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
As the sun melted snow away every spring, Maura Goessling said her son, Raleigh, would pile up what was left in the shade.
It was there, she said, her youngster would ski for hours.
Raleigh Goessling now trains hours away from the old Esko home he grow up in, as the 21-year-old is seeking to become a world-class biathlete and a future United States Olympian.
Biathlon, a Norwegian-originated sport that combines Nordic skiing along with shooting a .22-caliber rifle at a target, is a difficult challenge. Most races can be up to 20 kilometers — or over 18 miles — while competitors then need to extract their shotgun and hit 90 percent of their usual 20 targets. The more misses you have, the more additional meters you then have to ski.
“I’ve been at this for a while; it’s my passion,” said Goessling Tuesday night in a phone interview following a training session in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. “I’ve had the rare privilege to have a supportive family, coaches and community members to be able to pursue this opportunity of mine. I’m just very thankful.”
Thanks to a garage sale, Goessling got his first pair of skis in kindergarten when his mother and father, Steve, purchased them.
“He’s had them on ever since,” said Maura with a laugh over the phone in their new hometown of Yarmouth, Maine. “He did a couple of ski lessons and just continued to stick with it and has always worked very hard. Anywhere he could ski — he’d ski.”
“You’d always see him in his zone skiing in the backyard,” said Steve, who has traveled to Finland to watch Biathlon. “He’s very dedicated. And he always wished for snow on his birthday.”
Dedication is what led Goessling to the Minnesota State Nordic Ski Championship as an Esko senior in 2010, while the five-year Cloquet-Esko-Carlton varsity member balanced being on the World Junior Biathlon team for five years traveling the globe.
With a more vigorous training regimen nowadays, Goessling added up his Biathlon training to 2,040 hours — or 85 full days — since high school. He’s also honed his skills from Alaska to Maine, as well as Canada and all across Europe, including Italy, Germany, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic. He hopes the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, will be added to the list soon.
Goessling said his top race was two weeks ago in Whistler, British Columbia, when he placed third in the North American Biathlon Championship pursuit ahead of a Canadian Olympian.
“That was the race,” he said. “I knew I could go for Sochi.”
Former CEC teammate Matt Rengo, now an Esko junior, said he knew Goessling was special when they first met back in 2010.
“We’d go out to ski five kilometers and Raleigh would ski 20,” recalled Rengo. “I remember he’d get early release from school to go ski, then he’d help us, and then go ski some more.”