Twin soccer players, Lanny and Tracy Barnes were looking for a way to stay in shape during the off season when they were introduced to biathlon.
Since then, the 28-year-old twins have competed in numerous World Cup competitions in Europe, the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. Now they are preparing to compete in the 2014 Olympics in Russia.
“We travel the United States and Europe attending training camps,” said Lanny Barnes, who gave talks and demonstrations in Havre over the weekend. “Then we also compete for five to six months on the World Cup Circuit in Europe.” With a rigorous 11 1/2 month training schedule, getting away isn’t easy for the athletes, but they do manage to squeak out a little time to see family and make special appearances for their sponsors.
“We’ve been trying to come up to Havre for the last five or six years to meet Renelle,” said Barnes.
Renelle Braaten, the founder and owner of Enell Sports Bras, has sponsored the twins for the past five or six years. “We really believe in their product,” said Barnes. “Training as hard as we do, we need the support that her bras offer.” While training, the twins work two to four hours in the morning and two to four hours in the afternoon six to seven days a week.
Although downtime isn’t normally in their schedule, Barnes was able to take a few days to visit Havre and the Hi-Line while her sister Tracy spent time with her spouse.
“It’s Tracy’s second anniversary,” Barnes said.
“They have worked out some time here and there to spend with each other, which isn’t easy.” Excursions to the Blaine County Wildlife Museum, Havre Gun Club, Havre Middle School and the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line with Braaten are a few of the highlights from her visit.
“We went to the Havre Beneath the Streets today,” said Barnes. “It was really neat to see that.” Barnes and her sister originate from Durango, Colo., and have been outdoor enthusiasts their entire lives.
“Growing up, we did pretty much any outdoor activity we could find,” Barnes said.
The sisters enjoyed downhill skiing, basketball and mountain biking, but their real love when they were young was soccer. That changed when they were introduced to biathlon. They knew they had found a sport that truly suited them.
“We used to dream of going to the World Cup for soccer,” Barnes said. “Now we compete in the World Cup biathlon circuit.” Biathlon is a cross-country skiing and shooting competition: The athletes ski a two kilometer loop, enter the range and shoot at five targets in either the prone or standing position and then repeat this sequence until having skied and shot for the course requirements.
“This sport combines the physically demanding sport of cross-country skiing with the precision of shooting,” said Barnes. “You have to be able to control your body and hit the targets, or more distance is added to your next loop.” The sport originated in Scandinavia as a method of hunting, then was used during wartime to protect the Scandinavian borders and was eventually used by the U.S. military in World War II to defeat the Nazis.
“After that it was converted to a competition and became an Olympic sport,” Barnes said.
While popularity of the sport is gaining in the United States, it is hugely popular in Europe.