Chloe Levins: From Fairway to Biathlon Range

Vermont biathlete Chloe Levins knows how to hit a target, whether it’s shooting clean in the Youth Olympic Games pursuit or carding a 70 from the men’s tees at the Country Club of Brookline at just 15. After a stellar junior career that saw her qualify for six youth or junior world championships in biathlon, not to mention a pair of state high school golf titles plus a Vermont amateur crown, Levins is turning the page this year and moving into the senior ranks. Somehow she found time to get a neuroscience degree from Middlebury College. But her sights are firmly set on biathlon as she maps her future out to the Beijing and Cortina Olympics.

It’s a bit mind-numbing to think about the schedule Chloe Levins has led as a golfer, mountain biker, biathlete and student. But spend a few minutes talking to her and you learn quickly that she’s a very organized, focused and fun-loving 22-year-old. Biathlon is complex with myriad pathways into the sport. Chloe started younger than many, introduced to the sport at just 13. Her last nine years have been spent learning. In our podcast interview, Chloe shares her pathway into the sport and lessons she’s learned as a biathlete. Whether you’re a fan of biathlon or just like to hear a great athletic success story, listen to this episode of Heartbeat with Chloe Levins: From Fairway to Biathlon Range.
- Tom Kelly, Heartbeat Host

Training in Lake Placid with Clare Egan this summer
Clare is definitely a role model for me and I've looked up to her since we began biathlon together seven or eight years ago under Algas Shalna. So just by being in her presence, it's been a great development for my own training.

Goals for the season ahead?
Hopefully I can get myself to the IBU Cups. I've had experience on the IBU Cup in the past years. But this year there will be no Junior World Championships for me since I’m a first year senior. So just getting myself to Europe, competing in IBU Cups and getting myself the opportunity to hopefully qualify for a World Cup this season would be great.

Your first international experience was Junior Worlds in Belarus? What was that like for a 15-year-old?
It was very exhilarating. It was strange at first. Obviously, it was an interesting place to go for my first trip to Europe, not as glamorous, one might say, as Italy or Austria, but nonetheless, there were great crowds at that event and people asking me for my autograph as a 15-year-old girl at her first major biathlon competition. It was pretty funny and motivating, too. But I have great memories from that event. I was really, dare I say, lucky to to clean the sprint in that competition. Just have really great memories of being with my coach (Algis Šalna) in a country where he had trained in when he was an athlete and had so many connections.

What was the feeling like for you at the Youth Olympic Games?
You just felt the energy like the Olympic energy as soon as you stepped foot into the Olympic Village. At the racing venue, it was just so much different, so much fun. There were thousands of spectators there watching us. Just to get the chance to meet other athletes from around the world that were your age and were committed to their sports just as much as you and also attending school and balancing that kind of sport and life and student. The dynamic was really a good experience for me. I cleaned my first four stage race, which was another kind of stepping stone into the thrill of biathlon and in kind of the addiction that I think a lot of elite athletes feel when they get to clean and when everything comes together on a given day.

What’s the secret to biathlon?
Biathlon about managing your variables, whether it's yourself, the weather, the zero that you had, the ski conditions, your start time, all these different things. Who knows what's going on in your life on the day that you're supposed to perform. Balancing all those aspects of sport is a really great challenge that I'm still figuring out. Even though I've been doing biathlon since I was 13, I'm definitely a work in progress and have a lot a lot more to do. But I'm excited for it. And the thrill of hitting five, four, five when you're at your limit is second to none.

What lessons have you learned from biathlon?
The most important lesson, for me, is just to put my blinders on. Use your teammates, collaborate with your teammates, work with your coach, but also just listen to your body and listen to your mind and what it's telling you. And also, even on race day, put your blinders on. You shouldn't know how anyone else is shooting on race day. You should just be so within yourself that the flow comes naturally and everything kind of just, you know, flows out of you.

  • Strangest experience while studying neuroscience? Hint: it was alive!
  • Why she loves Antholz? (it’s the food)
  • Golf course she’s dreaming about playing? (it’s in Scotland)
  • Favorite pandemic Netflix binge? Hint: she’s up to season five

Heartbeat: US Biathlon Podcast (c) US Biathlon