Durango biathlete Tracy Barnes did what she needed to do over the weekend to make the U.S. Olympic team. And then she made a huge sacrifice.
With her twin sister, Lanny, next in line, Tracy turned down her Olympic spot.
“In honor of friendship, cooperation and sacrifice, I declined my spot on the Olympic team,” Tracy Barnes wrote in an email to family and friends Monday morning.
So now Lanny Barnes, 31, will make her third trip to the Winter Olympics. She was officially named to the U.S. biathlon team late Sunday, along with four other women and five other men.
In 2010 at the Vancouver Olympics, Lanny placed 23rd in the 15-kilometer individual event – the best showing for a U.S. woman biathlete since 1994.
“I can’t even begin to describe what it means to me that Tracy made such a huge sacrifice for me,” Lanny Barnes said in an email to The Herald Monday afternoon from Italy. “We have been training together every day for the past 15 years and I know how hard she has worked to make this team.”
Tracy and Lanny both competed at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
The twins have always worked as a team, whether it was training or setting goals. Both obviously had an eye on the Olympics, but Tracy made the decision because it was more important to her for Lanny to realize her goals.
“It’s just really a selfless thing to do,” said the twins’ mother, Deb Barnes, in a phone interview Monday, minutes after she’d gotten off the phone from talking to Tracy, who is in the process of making her way back home from Europe. “She was fine with the decision.”
The trials for the U.S. biathlon team, a long process that began in 2013, ended Sunday at a race in Ridnaun, Italy. Because Lanny Barnes was sick and unable to compete, she did not have enough trial results to make the team, although her overall results likely would have placed her ahead of her sister.
Meanwhile, Tracy Barnes took 10th in a 7.5-kilometer sprint race in the International Biathlon Union Cup race – an excellent result, and, if it is the end of Tracy’s biathlon career, a good way to go out.
Said Tracy in her email: “Yesterday I was named to the Olympic Team! I cannot think of any greater honor in the world, save one. ... (Lanny) is having a stellar year and I for one want to see where she can take it ... what heights she can climb to.”
Said Lanny: “Tracy selflessly gave me her spot and told me to go to Russia and bring her back the medal in the individual. ... I am going to do my best to represent Tracy, Durango and our awesome country and bring home that medal for Tracy.”
Tracy Barnes lives in Durango with her husband, Gary Colliander, a Durango Nordic race team coach. Deb Barnes said that because of Tracy’s heavy travel schedule, the couple haven’t been able to spend much time together. Going to Sochi, Russia, for the Olympic Games would have meant another month apart.
“Tracy’s a pretty amazing young woman. She’s thought this through,” Deb Barnes said. “This is where she wants to be.”
This story has been changed from its original publication to correct Tracy Barnes’ motivations for declining her Olympic spot.