PM360 recently spoke to Andrew Erickson, Innovative Market Team Director at Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc., about what it was like to compete in the Olympics.
PM360: How did your journey to becoming an Olympic Biathlon athlete begin?
Growing up in Minnesota, I found a way to embrace the cold and long winters. Biathlon, the combination of rifle marksmanship and cross country skiing is a bit odd, but historically it originates in Nordic countries (Minnesota being rich in Scandinavian heritage). It definitely challenges the “best of” in the endurance athlete world. But it all began when I started cross country skiing as a winter pastime with my family. Then, when entering middle school, an opportunity presented itself to join the high school cross country ski team.
It was at the age of 16, after watching the 1992 Albertville Olympics, that I was determined to make the U.S. Olympic Team. But it wasn’t until the summer after I graduated high school that Biathlon became a part of my everyday world. I owe immense gratitude to the U.S. Olympic Biathlon team coach for seeing something in my skiing and for having faith that if he added a rifle to my training, my Olympic dream could become a reality.
Did anyone besides that coach help you reach your dream?
To make this path to the Olympics, there were so many people that impacted my success—high school coaches, club coaches, national team coaches and teammates. I was also blessed to have parents that did everything in their power to provide me the resources to make it. My dad even took the bus to work (over an hour), so that I would have a car to attend different trainings.
Which Olympics did you compete in?
I competed in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan and was the 1998 Olympic Trails 20km Champion. Internationally, I was middle of the pack. I made the Olympic team at the age of 21. At that point, if I would have continued full-time training, I could have progressed and eventually become a top 20 athlete in the world. However, I choose to go back to school and pursue an education and met my beautiful wife—no regrets!
What was the overall experience like at those games?
From the Olympic village, to the opening ceremonies, the high-security levels, the intensity of training and the level of media coverage and racing, the emotional intensity of the Olympic Games is surreal. I remember the closing ceremonies like it was yesterday. You could let go of the intensity of the games and reflect with your family, coaches and teammates on the path that was traveled. That evening will be imprinted on my mind forever.
Do you still enjoy any Biathlon activities? How do you fill your spare time now?
I enjoy spending as much possible time with my son William (6) and my wife Lindsay, ideally in the outdoors. Our favorite activities are hiking, skiing or biking. My son, who has been alpine skiing since the age of two, will start competitive ski racing this year. Let’s just say, I’m having a hard time containing my excitement for the start of his racing season!