Pulaski’s Irwin claims Team USA’s best ever Olympic finish in biathlon

Deedra Irwin crosses the finish line during the women's 15-kilometer individual race at the...
Deedra Irwin crosses the finish line during the women's 15-kilometer individual race at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)(Kirsty Wigglesworth | AP)
Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 7:47 AM CST
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BEIJING (WBAY) - A Pulaski native has made history at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Deedra Irwin claimed Team USA’s best ever individual finish in biathlon.

“Just ... wow ... still crying ... OLYMPICS,” Deedra tweeted.

Irwin finished seventh overall in her race.

She celebrated her performance by eating KFC in bed and then Goldfish crackers while getting a massage.

Watch our full 20-minute interview with Irwin below:

Pulaski's Irwin embracing emotions of best American performance in Olympic biathlon history
Irwin placed 7th overall in the women's 15 kilometer individual biathlon race.

Action 2 Sports profiled Irwin prior to the Olympics. Irwin grew up running cross country, took up Nordic skiing with the Ashwaubenon team in high school, and added the rifle component of biathlon just 4 years ago. She thought she was at the tail end of her professional skiing career at that point, but is now an Olympian in the biathlon.

“Biathlon is a combination of cross country skiing and precision shooting,” Irwin explained. “You have to be able to ski fast and then flip the switch as you come into the range and become a professional precision shooter. In prone (lying down) you are shooting at a target the size of an Oreo and standing you are shooting a target the size of a CD-ROM, if anyone knows what that is anymore.”

She started here in Northeast Wisconsin, first putting on a pair of skates in Ashwaubenon.

“All I can take credit for is putting skis on her the first time, but she definitely made herself,” Bernie Rocheleau, her former coach with the Ashwaubenon Nordic Ski Team said.

“So I started Nordic skiing my sophomore year of high school, about 16 years old, way behind the curve for most people I am competing against who started skiing when they were 2 years old,” Irwin said. “No one in my family every skied. So I got introduced to it from a couple of my cross country teammates from Pulaski High School.”

It didn’t take long for the new sport to capture her heart.

“I just fell in love,” Irwin said. “After that, it was a huge challenge for me. I came home from training one day, had dinner, and went to bed right away. My mom was like ‘are you ok?’ And I was like, ‘I am tired!’ And it was like the first sport that ever made me tired. I could run all day. And she was like, ‘you’re going to stick with this, this is going to be good for you.’”

While the accomplishment is big, its one that hasn’t surprised her family one bit.

“As a mom, you always see potential in your kids in whatever they do. But I mean, there’s no stopping her. I mean, the only one that’s in her way is her,” Jennifer Irwin, Deedra’s mom said.

Brillion company Ariens is a sponsor of the U.S. Biathlon Team. Irwin and Paul Schommer of Appleton are part of Team USA.

The team of Schommer, Sean Doherty, Clare Egan and Susan Dunklee finished seventh in the mixed relay Saturday.

The U.S. Biathlon team has never won an Olympic medal.

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