Aiming to qualify for the U.S. team - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Aiming to qualify for the U.S. team

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JERICHO, Vt. -

The wheels are turning for these athletes both physically and mentally at the North American Rollerski Biathlon Championship in Jericho.

"You're pushing as hard as you can on skis to the point that you're breathing really hard and you're almost seeing spots. Then you need to calm down turn off that 'go go go' mode and get into a zen-like zone for shooting," said Susan Dunklee of Vermont. For Vermonter, Susan Dunklee, the pressure is off, as she races to practice before rounding the track for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

"Olympics are a life long dream. My father went to both the Innsbruck in 76 and Lake Placid in 1980 and I grew up in a skiing family," said Dunklee.

And Lowell Bailey from Lake Placid also crosses the finish line with more training under his belt, as he prepares for his third shot at an Olympic medal.

"My first Olympics was more of the spectacle of it and the lifelong dream coming true. The second one was a lot more serious and wanting to be the top in the world. And I came up a little short in Vancouver for my goals and I feel more prepared and at a higher level this time around," said Bailey.

Saturday, racers from across the country hit the track for a chance to qualify for the U.S. Team in the 2014 Olympics. Event organizers say there's a strong history of biathlons in this region as well as strong cross-country skiing programs here. For racers like Annelies Cook, becoming an Olympian comes down to her race time.

"It's something that a dream you have when you're a kid. It's something you fantasize about and then when it starts to become a reality and you really feel like 'Oh, this could really happen,'" said Cook.

And Vermont National Guard member Winn Roberts hopes there's a spot on the team for him too.

"It'd just be one of those once in a lifetime achievements where you get to represent your country, family, and National Guard unit," said Roberts.

Whether for a qualifying spot or another chance to practice, these athletes are aiming for the same goal. The opportunity to represent this sport and their country in the next Olympic games.

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