NewsWomen's Coaching Initiative

Eight Women Selected For U.S. Biathlon Women’s Coaching Initiative

by Sara Donatello

Midway, UT - U.S. Biathlon announced today the eight women selected for the Women’s Coaching Initiative, providing female coaches from all Nordic backgrounds with opportunities throughout the season to integrate with U.S. Biathlon staff and teams on the ground at domestic and international U.S. Biathlon and IBU events. Each opportunity is tailored, providing a unique experience that fits with each person’s schedule. Congratulations to the selected participants!

“As a member of the selection committee, I am really excited to see the number of candidates that applied for the program,” said U.S. Biathlon National Team Athlete and Board of Directors Athlete Representative Kelsey Dickinson. “Having 19 women apply really shows that there is no lack of women wanting to coach biathlon, we just need to help provide opportunities to get them on trips and working with athletes. I really encourage anyone who didn’t make it this time to continue applying for these opportunities in the future. I am excited to see how the program unfolds this winter!” 

“We are thrilled to launch the Women’s Coaching Initiative! We had a very strong pool of applicants and would like to thank the Selection Panel for its diligence in narrowing the pool down to a group that will be really valuable to the athletes and coaches,” said U.S. Biathlon President & CEO Jack Gierhart. “This initiative was created not only to grow the population of female biathlon coaches, but to continue strengthening our culture so our athletes can thrive. We are excited to work with these eight women and look forward to what this initiative will bring to U.S. Biathlon and the biathlon community.”

Annelies Cook

Annelies has been a part of U.S. Biathlon since 2001. First as a part of the development and junior team, then the World Cup and World Championships team, competing for Team USA at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. After retiring from racing in 2016, Annelies worked for U.S. Biathlon as a part-time IBU Cup wax technician from 2017-2021, for the U.S. Paralympic Team as a guest assistant coach in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021, and most recently as a U.S. Biathlon assistant coach from 2021 until now. Outside of competing in biathlon, Annelies founded GO GIRLS, a Female Youth Programming in her hometown of Saranac Lake, New York. She currently resides in Germany, where she has also been a Biathlon Oberland Schuler coach since 2017.

Annika Martell

Annika was a competitive cross-country skier from 2011-2020 before transitioning into coaching. Following her graduation from Colby College, she joined U.S. Biathlon as a coaching intern, where she assisted and facilitated biathlon National Team Camp practices at Craftsbury Outdoor Center and built out youth program development and coach education framework. Since then, Annika has been the Cross Country Ski Coach at Ford Sayre Memorial Ski Council, Head Coach Summer Training Group at Berkshire Nordic Ski Club, Stratton Mountain School T2 Team Assistant Coach and Assistant Coach of Men’s and Women’s Ski Team at Williams College. Annika also had the opportunity to be a Trail to Gold Fellow with US Ski and Snowboard and travel as a coach and wax technician. In 2022, she attended the Cross Country World Cups in Beitostolen, Norway and Davos, Switzerland, and in 2023, she attended the Cross Country World Cups in Gallivare and Ostersund, Sweden. 

Clare Egan

Clare competed for U.S. Biathlon’s National Team from 2017-2022, retiring as a 2x Olympian, 5x National Champion, 6x World Championships team member and World Cup bronze medalist. Since 2018, Clare has been actively engaged in international sport, first on the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Executive Board, then as Athletes’ Committee Chair. Since retiring in 2022, she has worked on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Athletes Council and was the on-site athlete ambassador and anti-doping educator at the 2024 Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon, Korea, as well as a freelance international sport organization and event consultant. Fun fact: Clare is fluent in English, Italian, French and Spanish, with intermediate knowledge of Russian and German and elementary-level knowledge of Korean! 

Kate Halligan 

Kate has a long history as a member of the Nordic community, having raced for St. Lawrence University’s Nordic Ski Team where she was named Team Captain in her junior and senior years. While she was pursuing a career in law, Kate remained actively engaged in the cross-country ski world. Since 2015, Kate has coached with Mansfield Nordic Club in Jericho, Vermont and Auburn Ski Club in Soda Springs, California. Additionally, she was the head coach at the National Team Training Centre in Victoria, Australia in 2022 and was on the Women Ski Coaches Association Board from 2021-2023. Most recently, Kate has balanced her time as an Associate Attorney and volunteered with U.S. Biathlon at both domestic and international competitions, including the World University Games, IBU Cup, World Cup, Youth & Junior World Championships and Junior Open European Championships.   

Maddie Phaneuf

Maddie raced for U.S. Biathlon from 2017-2021, during which time she was a 2018 Olympian and competed at the 2017 World Championships. During her time as an athlete, Maddie was a part of launching Girls with Guns and was selected to represent Protect our Winters (POW) Rider’s Alliance. Following her retirement from racing, Maddie was named as the New York Ski Education Foundation (NYSEF) head biathlon coach and assistant Nordic coach. In 2022, Maddie received her U.S. Biathlon Official’s License and USSA L100 Coach Certificate. In 2023, she received her International Biathlon Union (IBU) International Referee License, and in 2024, she completed the IBU Academy First Level Course. In addition to coaching with NYSEF, Maddie was also selected for U.S. Biathlon’s Coaching Fellowship in 2023, spending two weeks in Europe on the IBU Cup, and had the opportunity to travel back to the 2018 biathlon Olympic venue in PyeongChang to coach Team USA at the 2024 Youth Olympic Games.  

Naomi Kiekintveld

Naomi comes from the Nordic ski community with 7+ years of experience including assistant coach and wax technician for the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center, head coach of the South Anchorage High School Nordic Ski Team and, most recently, assistant coach for the Alaska Winter Stars. She is USSS L100 Certified, having traveled as a coach for U18 NEG, Team Alaska and Alaska Pacific University’s Wax Tech team. Naomi was a U.S. Ski & Snowboard Trail to Gold Fellow for the 2022/23 season, where she traveled to Ruka, Finland and Lillehammer, Norway with the U.S. Nordic Ski Team. 

Susan Dunklee 

Susan raced for U.S. Biathlon on the National Team from 2008-2022, ending her career as the most decorated U.S. biathlete in history. She is a 3x Olympian and 8x World Championship team member with 2 World Championship silver medals and 5 World Cup medals. During her time as an athlete, Susan organized Women’s “Mini Camps” to bring National Team and top senior and junior women together for training, learning & team building. She also created Girls with Guns beginner clinics together with National Team teammates and put on events in 3 different states. Following her retirement as an athlete, Susan was hired as Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s Running Camp Director and Director of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (GRP) Run Team. She has since taken on a different set of jobs as Craftsbrury’s Biathlon Director, Craftsbury Ski Club coach, Race Organizer, Biathlon Camp Organizer, Girls on the Run coach and mountain bike coach.  

Sydney Michalak 

Sydney competed as a Nordic skier in both high school and college through the University of New Hampshire’s club Nordic program. After graduating from UNH, Sydney learned about the sport of biathlon in 2019 at Craftsbury Outdoor Center, where, at the time, she was training and competing as a rower. After becoming involved in biathlon, she worked as a Nordic ski instructor at Crosscut and with BSF in Bozeman, Montana. In 2021, she competed at U.S. Biathlon Nationals in West Yellowstone, Montana, where she placed fifth. That same year, Sydney began working as coach of the Elite Biathlon Team at Crosscut Mountain Sports Center, where she also works with masters and youth programs throughout the year. Sydney also coached on the IBU Cup during the 2022/23 season, at the West Regional Select Camp last summer and traveled to Vuokatti, Finland in November 2023 to coach at U.S. Biathlon’s on-snow training camp, continuing on to Kontiolahti, Finland for IBU Cup 1. Fun fact: Sydney has her Masters of Science in Mechanical-Aerospace Engineering! 

“I’m super excited to have been chosen for the U.S. Biathlon Women’s Coaching Initiative. I’ve had the pleasure of being chosen in the inaugural class for the Trail to Gold Grant (fellowship) with US Ski and Snowboard with the Cross Country Team and I’m excited to have the unique opportunity to be a part of the inaugural class for the biathlon program as well,” said Naomi Kiekintveld. “I think that the more tech-heavy the sport is the more unlikely women are to be working as coaches and support staff and sports similar to skiing sort of prove that. I love the waxing and ski service side of skiing and want to gain as many experiences as I can in different conditions around the world and have the opportunity to work with as many teams and people as possible. I enjoy watching and trying different methods and learning about other methodologies surrounding not only training but the service side as well. Biathlon is sort of a whole different world in terms of skiing and I’m excited to see what similarities and differences there are between cross country and biathlon and I’m proud to be a part.”

To learn more about the Women's Coaching Initiative, click HERE.