FORT KENT, Maine — Many of the coaches at the U.S. and North American Biathlon Championships were pulling double or even triple duty this week at the 10th Mountain Lodge.
For Betsey Devin Smith, on top of coaching, waxing and training, there was perhaps the most important of jobs — mom.
Smith was attending the event as a coach for a single-skier team — her son — 18-year-old Casey Smith. Both are from Methow Valley Biathlon in Winthrop, Wash.
“It can be an interesting dynamic,” Devin-Smith, the 2009 U.S. women’s master gold medalist, said. “Sometimes I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut when I go into ‘mom mode,’ but it happens.”
Devin-Smith has coached cross country skiing since her son was 9 and was excited to introduce the sport of biathlon into her region’s already strong Nordic program.
“Casey and I have been learning the sport together,” she said. “Because not many people in our area knew about biathlon I quickly became the local expert.”
Devin-Smith said she enjoys working with the youth of her area and that biathlon is a nice “carrot” to offer in training.
“They get to shoot a gun after skiing around the course,” she said with a laugh.
Devin-Smith said she does her best to take the “mom” hat off when her son is on the course, but she can never totally separate herself from the role.
“I’m nervous when all the kids shoot,” she said. “But maybe I’m a bit extra nervous when Casey shoots.”
Smith won the youth men’s sprint Thursday and came in fifth in Saturday’s pursuit race.
“At first I saw her as both mom and coach,” Smith said. “But it’s OK, I don’t mind having her around at all.”
Devin-Smith concedes it’s probably not always easy as a teen to have his mom around, but added, “I’m kind of the mom figure to a bunch of the skiers.”
Part of that, Devin-Smith said, is making sure her athletes are strong on and off the course.
“These are student athletes and the student part comes first,” she said. “It’s a real incentive for them to get their homework done and this sport really helps them develop focus and good study habits.”
And, coach or not, every so often the mom just comes out.
“When he wins I probably gush more as a mom than as a coach,” Devin-Smith said. “It’s just hard not to be proud.”