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Madison native Joanne Reid hopes to win first U.S. biathlon medal in Winter Olympics

Posted at 6:39 PM, Jan 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-31 19:39:21-05

Biathlon is the only Winter Olympics sport the U.S. has never won a medal for. Joanne Reid hopes to change that, but even she is realistic on that front.

Reid's middle name is Firesteel, which is a river in Upper Michigan near where she grew up and it speaks to her toughness.

Born in Madison, yet only living in the state for about two years, Wisconsin still runs in biathlete Reid's blood.

"My grandma still does, she lives on the same street she has for 50 years, so we lived just down the street from my grandma," Reid says.

She's the daughter of an Olympic Speedskating bronze medalist.

"I think I've seen it, once," Reid says.

And the daughter of the very modest, Beth Heiden.

"I didn't know that my mom was any sort of athlete," Reid says. "Or famous in any way until I arrived in Madison and there was a house called the Heiden Haus. I have two brothers and all three of us were standing there going, mom, why does that house have grandma's name on it?"

Reid's uncle is the great five-time gold medalist, Eric Heiden.

"I see him now and again, but you know, he's really busy," Reid says. "Doctor and real job and stuff."

A true family affair, as her mom stopped Reid's career from being derailed by jumping in.

"She has a degree in structural engineering," Reid says. "That's her graduate degree. So she has built herself a lot of the parts on my rifle. So that's kind of like one of her new hobbies is carbon fiber wrapping, molding and rifle adaptations."

Reid is a two-time Olympian and her grandpa got her into the sport. He is battling Alzheimer's and got to see his granddaughter's dream realized.

"My grandpa, this was really meaningful to me, he hung on so he died one week after Pyeongchang," Reid says. "He made it though. I don't know, probably wasn't super aware obviously by the end. But that was really special for me to do that."

Now as she prepares to compete, she has three challenges. One, explaining her sport.

"The thing is, it's not occasionally. It's all the time," Reid says. "At least 95 percent of the time you tell people in the U.S. that you're a biathlete. They go, so is that running and biking, or is that biking and swimming?"

Two, despite her cross country skiing background, she started late in life.

"You could not take a pro shooter and make them into a biathlete," Reid says. "But you can take a cross country skier and make them into a biathlete."

And three, trying to win a medal in the only winter sport the U.S. has never done so.

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