When the Olympic Games open in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Friday, a recent ATLAS graduate will be among the U.S. athletes, competing against the best of the best.
One month after receiving a graduate degree in Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICTD) from CU Boulder’s ATLAS Institute, Joanne Reid was named to the 2018 US Winter Olympic team for biathlon, a sport that combines target shooting with Nordic skiing. The mentally and physically challenging sport is popular in Europe, but less known in the United States, Reid said.
“I would take any of my teammates medaling as an excellent day,” Reid said in a Skype conversation from her training camp in Tyrol, Italy. “I’m not going to say it needs to be me. For the United States to win a medal in biathlon would be an unbelievably beautiful day.”
Reid isn’t the first Winter Olympian in her family—far from it. Her mother, Beth (Heiden) Reid, and her uncle, Eric Heiden, both competed in speed skating in Lake Placid in 1980. While Beth came away with a bronze, Eric won five gold medals, which remains the most gold medals won by any Winter Olympian at a single edition of the games.
Competing on the CU Buffs ski team 2010–13, Joanne distinguished herself in Nordic skiing as the 2013 NCAA freestyle champion. She didn’t take up biathlon until 2015, inspired when her grandfather passed down his rifle to her.
Coming from such an athletic family, it’s fitting that she focused the culminating project of her graduate work on sport—specifically, on the challenges faced by today's female athletes who compete and train in an ever-present media and social media spotlight.
“As athletes, we are so dependent on the media to survive. And we’re also affected by it, because we are females in a very male-dominated sport,” said Reid. “This project is very personal to me.”