by KRIS CANTRELL
The "Girl On Fire” is taking on the snow, and this time she’s a willing participant.
Only months after being airlifted from the 75th Hunger Games, the world’s most beloved archer will compete in the 52nd Olympic Games. Katniss Everdeen will ski and shoot for the people of Panem in three different Biathlon events: the 7.5KM Sprint, 10KM Pursuit, and Mixed Relay.
(The Biathlon is basically a race where you a ski a bunch, shoot at targets with a rifle, and ski more if you miss.)
What should we expect from an athlete who almost bled to death after a dagger to her shooting arm? Can Katniss actually make the transition from archer to marksman? When was the last time she stepped into a pair of skis? Has she spent all of her downtime eating Peeta’s pastries?
These are all valid concerns for your average Olympic athlete, but not Katniss. This is a girl who learned to kill, swim, and tie knots in just a few days. Katniss could bring home some hardware with her bloody arm dangling from a nearly-severed shoulder.
7.5 KM SPRINT
Katniss takes gold here. Write it down.
Early reports from Panem hint that Everdeen’s bow skills translate well to the rifle, but she’s still struggling on the skis. No worries. The 7.5KM Sprint is the shortest skiing distance (about 4.5 miles) of Katniss’s two individual events.
I expect Katniss’s quickness to help her develop into a decent skier. ‘Decent’ should keep her within striking distance between shooting stages. From there, her elite marksmanship will create the separation she needs to win.
Everdeen’s skiing progress will decide where she finishes in the 10K. If she’s closer to ’terrible' than ‘decent', she’ll struggle keeping up. That shouldn’t be the case though.
Katniss is a quick learner with some of the best trainers in the world. She’ll come to Sochi as a formidable skier and her shooting skills should cover other sins. I expect Katniss to keep up with the pack, but just miss the mark.
The Mixed Relay promises to create the most drama for viewers at home. Everdeen’s feelings for teammate and co-anchor Gale Hawthorne have been well-documented. Their relationship and her newlywed's reaction to every moment before, during, and after the relay should be must-see TV.
Side note: What kind of victory dessert will Peeta whip up for the team? Will we get a shot of Peeta and Gale eating cupcakes together? Would that be weird? Does Peeta feel like less of a man essentially being a trophy husband? Is extended post-race coverage of a single Olympic event even a thing?
Oh yeah, and the race itself should be good too. As usual, Everdeen will play a pivotal role in Panem’s success. Her leg is only 6 KM long, which means less skiing and more shooting. That, and her obvious chemistry with Hawthorne should produce a gold medal for the duo from District 12.
Kris hasn't read Mockingjay yet, so don't spoil for him. Follow him @KMCantrell.