South Shields snow queen Amanda prepares for biathlon season

Amanda Lightfoot on the range in Ruhpolding
Amanda Lightfoot on the range in Ruhpolding

South Shields snow queen is preparing for her next competitive season.

Biathlete Amanda Lightfoot spent a day training with the Swedish team as she prepares to head back into this winter’s competition which sees her compete in front of crowds of up to 30,000 on the continent.

Amanda Lightfoot in shooting training.

Amanda Lightfoot in shooting training.

The 29-year-old, whose father William and mother Maureen still live in the town, joined the army’s Adjutant General Corps as a clerk at the age of 16 and decided to give the winter sport a try while she was serving in Iraq.

The training session with her personal coach Wolfgang Pichler, who is the Sweden head coach, saw Amanda practice classic roller skiing and shooting at Ruhpolding’s Chiemgau Arena, in Germany.

Amanda is the only woman on the Great Britain biathlon team.

The sport involves skiing and shooting.

Amanda Lightfoot at the IBU SBWCH in Otepaa.

Amanda Lightfoot at the IBU SBWCH in Otepaa.

She said: “It is really great to train with the Swedish women; each one is super awesome at something like fast shooting or uphills.

“It is really cool to have a team like that to train with, where you can learn from each other.”

The training day was part of a two-week camp, which was Amanda’s second with the team this summer.

She’s set to take on another later this month, also in Ruhpolding, as well as a snow camp just before the season begins.

Amanda on far left with her Swedish "teammates" during a training camp in France.

Amanda on far left with her Swedish "teammates" during a training camp in France.

She added: “I think having a team to train with, for me is the difference between improving or not.”

Amanda say she was saved by Wolfgang after the British Bialthlon Union ran low on funds and was forced to let team coach Walter Pichler go.

Amanda, who is a corporal in the British Army, said: “I felt so privileged and lucky that he would consider working with me. I got so lucky with Wolfgang; he literally saved me. Since then, we have been working together. Now he is with the Swedish team, so he just sends me the plan, I do the training, see him occasionally and it works well. Still, it is amazing that I am training with one of the best coaches in the world.”

She added: “It is not the training. The hardest thing is being away from my family and friends for such a long time. It is the same for most biathletes.”

Amanda Lightfoot in Ruhpolding.

Amanda Lightfoot in Ruhpolding.

Words and pics from Biathlonworld