UAF Athlete Profile: Anna Hjelmevoll
Taking part is not enough: A young rifle shooter and her long way to the top
By Annika Foerster
Sun Star Reporter
If there is one consistent thing about rifle shooter Anna Hjelmevoll, it’s that she always stays focused on her target – on the range and off. While constantly changing her place of residence and her surroundings, the 21-year-old native of Norway always keeps an eye on her goal of becoming a successful athlete.
“I was 13 years old when a classmate had been given a small trophy for shooting,” Hjelmevoll said. “I immediately knew I wanted one of those. And I got it.”
The competitive drive she first exhibited as a teenager persists. When Hjelmevoll enters the shooting range, she’s all business.
“I just have to be good at it,” she said. “I have a goal and I have to reach that goal.”
Hjelmevoll only remembers one time when she failed, and she still sees this incident as the most embarrassing in her whole career as a shooter.
“It was my first European Championship,” Hjelmevoll said. “I had a really good season and then I shot my worst result ever. I was second to last and I still don’t know what happened back then.”
Her failure made her stronger and encouraged her to pursue her career as an athlete. And her athletic ambitions led her far from Ulvik, the little Norwegian town where she grew up. She moved to a smaller town, Mooss, to attend the American College of Norway.
“At the college, we were only about 60 students, but we partied a lot together,” Hjelmevoll said. “So, my freshman year was just how it is supposed to be.”
When the University of Alaska Fairbanks offered her a scholarship her sophomore year, she did not hesitate and took the chance to join one of the few rifle teams in America. Due to her career as a shooter, Hjelmevoll has lived far away from home since she was 16 years old. Her team colleagues had always been like a family for her. Among the UAF Nanooks, she has found her place.
“I am the foreigner in the team,” Hjelmevoll said. “There has always been somebody from Europe on the rifle team and this year, it is me. My team is always mocking me because of that, but it is so much fun.”
Her team is not the only reason Hjelmevoll likes being part of the Nanooks.
“My big hero is the shooter Matthew Emmons,” she said. “He also went here to UAF and I admire him a lot. Most of all, because he is always smiling when he is done with shooting.”
Following Emmons’ example, Hjelmevoll takes her training seriously. The Norwegian spends 12 to 15 hours each week at the shooting range. The remaining time is reserved for her studies. She takes courses in English and political science. Although her major is still undeclared, Hjelmevoll already knows exactly what she wants to do after graduation.
“I want to work for an embassy and I like to travel all around the world,” she said. “And my work has to be something productive.”
Hjelmevoll can imagine working for the United Nations Organization, Save the Children or another international organization. What counts for her is to have a goal and go for it. In her career as a rifle shooter, she has already planned the next big step.
“The Olympic Games in 2016 are my greatest dream,” Hjelmevoll said. “I know that it is a little unrealistic, but shouldn’t everybody have a dream which is worth dreaming?”