Tracy Barnes gave up her spot on the U.S. Olympic biathlon team to the one person who has been with her every step of the way — her twin sister. Two days later, Lanny Barnes searched for words to describe her sister's selfless act of love.
"It shows if you care enough about someone, you're willing to sacrifice everything," Lanny Barnes said. "This is her dream, what she's been talking about her entire life. It shows true Olympic spirit. The Olympics are not always about gold medals, she showed that with her decision."
Tracy flew home to Durango, Colo. on Tuesday. Lanny Barnes stayed in Italy to continue training for Sochi. "It inspires me to push that much more, not only just for my country but for her as well," Lanny Barnes said Tuesday in a telephone interview.
The trials for the U.S. biathlon team ended Sunday in Italy. Because Lanny Barnes was sick with a miserable cold she was unable to compete in all the selection races. After the team was named late Sunday, the sisters went on a walk, where Tracy Barnes told her sister about her decision. She was declining her spot so Lanny could be named to the team in her place. Lanny said no, but after plenty of tears, finally relented. "She realized how much I wanted to do this for her," Tracy Barnes said Tuesday during an East Coast layover.
Tracy felt that Lanny deserved it more, that if not for an illness her sister would have made the team. "She had a stellar year," Tracy Barnes said. "She just had a bit of bad luck getting sick. I would have loved the opportunity to represent my country but it means more to me to give Lanny that chance. I think she'll do great things."
At 31, this will likely be the final Olympics for either Barnes. The sisters competed together at the 2006 Torino Games, but only Lanny made the 2010 Vancouver team. Lanny attributes her success in those Games to her sister. She placed 23rd in the 15-kilometer individual event — the best showing for an American woman since 1994. Face painted, American flag draped on her shoulders, Tracy ran alongside her sister during the race, cheering the whole way. "She would pass and give a little wave," Tracy Barnes said.
However, in Sochi, Lanny will be without the one person who made the trip possible. Given the expense, and scarcity of hotel rooms, Tracy will be cheering from home, perhaps with her face painted and an American flag draped on her shoulders, for the one person who has been with her every step of the way.