High school senior Amanda Kautzer’s favorite activity was once an alternative training exercise for the Norwegian military. Biathlon is a winter sport that combines skiing and rifle shooting, and one that took Kautzer all the way to the junior world championships in Minsk, Belarus, last February.
“[The experience] was kind of an eye-opener. The competition is so much harder,” says the Plymouth resident and Benilde‒St. Margaret’s School senior. “My coach told me to expect to be in the bottom third, so I was very excited to be in the top half. My top individual place was 39th.”
Her involvement in the sport stems from a combination of her own Nordic skiing experience (she was the Section 6 individual Nordic ski champion) and hunting trips she’s taken with her father since she was a young girl.
“Piotr Bednarski was my coach for Nordic skiing, and he was also the head of development for the Minnesota biathlon team,” Kautzer says. After being exposed to the sport through Bednarski, she started training and in December 2014, qualified for the junior world championships that took her to Europe.
“It was amazing to go over there and see how other people train. It made me set my goals a lot higher for the coming year,” says Kautzer, who hopes to qualify for the January 2016 world junior championship in Romania and the youth Olympic games in Norway in February 2016.
Sharing her passion for the outdoor lifestyle is also important to Kautzer. She volunteers with the Loppet Foundation to bring skiing and outdoor lifestyles to ethnically and economically diverse families. “I really enjoy being able to share [skiing] with little kids and seeing them light up,” she says.