Interview: Piotr Bednarski
March 7, 2001
To say Piotr Bednarski is a busy guy would be an enomorous
understatement. Piotr is a U.S. Biathlon regional coach, running
the Minnesota Biathlon Community Olympic Development program.
We first contacted Piotr for this interview back in late February,
shortly after the Minnesota High School Nordic State Championships.
- Skinnyski: At the Minnesota State High School Championships
last week, there were a large number of Minnesota Biathlon
skiers. Can you give us a quick run down on the skiers who
competed in the State Meet that are part of Minnesota Biathlon?
Bednarski: There were approximately 30 Minnesota Biathletes
competing in the state meet. Anders Osthus was the most
notable, winning the Men's pursuit. Others that placed
near the top were Steve Scott (6th Pursuit), Evan Ray
(10th Pursuit), Ben Byrne (12th pursuit), Sonne Nordgren
(7th pursuit), and Jenny Ester (12th skate).
- Skinnyski: How many athletes (total) participate in
Bednarski: The Minnesota Biathlon Community Olympic
Development Program includes 58 juniors, 8 seniors, approximately
12 masters and 14 coaches statewide. The junior category
is pretty much at 50-50 split girls to boys.
- Skinnyski: It seems that Minnesota Biathlon has been
well represented at a number of area races this season.
Andy Erickson won the Snowflake race last weekend, Dan Campbell
won the 35K Mora, and back in January, Ryan Cameron just
barely lost the La La Palooza race before winning at Baker
Shaker. Any master plan here, or are the skiers just having
fun between the January season and the big biathlon races
Bednarski: The master plan involved Ryan, Andy, and
Dan competing on the World Cup this season, rather than
skiing locally, so no, that really hasn't been part of
the plan. Fortunately, Andy qualified to compete on the
Europa Cup team (B level World Cup) so was able to compete
in Europe during January. It is nice for the guys to race
well locally - its great for some visibility for the program
and good on the ego. Dan, Ryan, Andy and Ben Kremer are
gearing up for the North American Championship and the
US Nationals in late March. Dan will go on from there
to the XC Spring Series in April.
Andy, Dan and Ryan will be competing in two major relay
events in March- one at the Noram Championships and one
at the US Championships. We are definitely looking to
win both Relay events, as well as get on the podium in
all four of the individual events.
- Skinnyski: Dan Campbell appears to be having a fantastic
year this season. Besides winning the 35K Mora Vasaloppet
(by a sizable margin), he was the top area skier in the
NorAm freestyle race. Any big secrets or tips behind Dan's
success this season?
Bednarski: Danny is skiing super well this year, no
question. He did have a great training year- lots of on
snow time in June, September and November- lots of plyos
and upper body specific strength- and in December some
hard interval training. Dan is able to recover from hard
training very quickly. He had an increase in training
hours this year, especially in the intensity and specific
strength area, and has tolerated it amazingly well. Now
he just has to solidify his shooting.
Does he have any secrets? - yeah- he never complains-
its NEVER too cold, too early, too windy, too hot, too
icy, skis too slow, etc... Tough guy, very high motivation.
- Skinnyski: What events are left in the biathlon season
Bednarski: Well, locally we have our State Championships
this weekend March 10-11 at Camp Ripley. This is also
open to juniors who have would like to see what biathlon
is all about.
As far as National events, our senior men will be travelling
to the North American Championships in Canmore, March
15-18, and then on to the US Nationals in West Yellowstone,
The US World Junior Team will be competing in the Europa
Cup Final next weekend in Switzerland, and then on to
Hanty-Mansisk, Russia for the World Junior Championships.
The Youth Team (17 and under) will be competing at the
Swedish Nationals in Solleftea, Sweden, March 30-April
We had number of athletes qualify for the World Junior
Team this past week at our Jr Nationals in Ft Kent, Maine-
Brian Olsen (Bloomington) and Emily Klemp (Duluth) qualified
for World Juniors, while Bill Snellman and Carolyn Treacy
prequalified through their race results on the Europa
We also had a large group that qualified for the Youth
Team (17 and under) that will be travelling to Sweden
at the end of March for the Swedish Nationals:
Sonne Nordgren-Stillwater, MN, Missy Gadacz-Elk River,
MN, Jana Eidem-Bloomington, MN, Adam Van Staten-Duluth,
MN, Kurt Farchmin-Duluth, MN, Ben Byrne-Grand Rapids,
MN, Anders Osthus-Duluth, MN, Steve Scott-St. Paul, MN,
Evan Ray-St. Paul, MN and Tom Secord-New Brighton, MN.
- Skinnyski: Andy Erickson was part of the 1998 Nagano
Olympic squad. Who are some of the other strong candidates
from the Minnesota group for the 2002 Olympic team?
Bednarski: Andy Erickson is definitely a strong candidate
for the 2002 Olympic Team- he's had a lot of international
experience having competed at the World Junior Championships,
twice at the World University Games, World Cup, and of
course the Olympics. Our Minnesota senior men's field
is very deep and we have a number of athletes that have
a solid chance of making the Olympic Team. After the World
Team Trials in January, Andy Erickson was ranked 7th,
Ryan Cameron 8th, Dan Campbell 10th. Also ranked in the
top 20 were Jacob Beste, Brett Piper, Ben Kremer, and
John Kurtz. Bill Snellman of Stillwater is a junior this
year and has been finishing consitently in the top 10
on the Europa Cup- he is a possible contender as well.
What most people don't know is that Minnesota already
has a number of women on the U.S. World Cup team right
now. This year Andrea Nahrgang (Wayzata), Kara Salmela
(Duluth), and Jill Krause (St Cloud) all qualified for
the World Cup team. Carolyn Treacy from Duluth is currently
the #1 ranked junior, and she also has a legitimate chance
of making the US Olympic Team next year. Carolyn has consistently
been placing in the top 10 in Europa Cup competitions
this year, and we are hoping to see her on the podium
at the World Junior Championships.
- Skinnyski: Minnesota Biathlon is hosting a "try out
biathlon" type session at Camp Ripley in March. Is the session
open to all ages, or mainly juniors? Also, it's listed as
a two-day camp. Can a skier come for just one day?
Bednarski: The March 10-11 races are open to junior
novices only- Skiers can compete one day or two- they
just need to preregister by email. Unfortunately we just
don't have enough rifles to accommodate all ages. We already
have 31 novices pre-registered, and this is a lot of people
to keep an eye on for instruction and safety.
- Skinnyski: Any other camps or biathlon events planned
for the area in the upcoming months?
Bednarski: Our big "Try Out" event is our Recruiting
Camp which is at Camp Ripley, April 27-29. This is a chance
for juniors age 13-17 to see if they like the sport. It
is a "try out" from the coaches' point of view also, because
we can only accept approximately 20 new athletes to the
program a year. So the athletes will learn a lot about
biathlon and training in general, and they will perform
a number of physical tests to give us an idea of what
they are capable of- their strengths, motivation, and
mental toughness. Athletes should go to our website at
http://members.aol.com/esecord/ or email email@example.com
for more information.