Tracy, left, and Lanny Barnes strike a tough pose with Kevin. Photo by NBC's Tina Cerbone
If you ask anyone who is a twin or even knows a twin, the question invariably comes up. Are you the good twin or the evil twin? So when I asked twin U.S. Olympic biathlon teammates Tracy and Lanny Barnes during a chat in Bardonecchia, they predictably answered in unison. One said, "I am," while the other agreed, "Yeah, she is!"
Now I'm sure you're wondering which is the so-called evil twin, but before I tell you which one claims the distinction, you should know that you don't have to be evil to compete in the biathlon, but you do need to be tough. Biathlon features a nine mile cross-country ski race and requires unrelenting marksmanship, like shooting at targets the size of playing cards over half a football field away!
Also, you may be wondering how in the world did two high school soccer standouts from Colorado end up in an Olympic sport that is part skiing and part shooting? Lanny, older than her twin by a little over five minutes, told me their father gets the credit. "He'd set up cans in the backyard and little targets," she recalls. "He started out giving us a quarter for every time we hit the bullseye but eventually we hit it a few too many times so he stopped doing that." Though quite a bit lighter in the wallet, Dad continued to encourage his girls to shoot. Now they're aiming to become the first American women to medal in the sport.
Tracy told me you have to have an attitude to be able to run on skis -- uphill -- for miles, while carrying a rifle, only to calm down long enough to zero in on and shoot several targets before skiing away. "I think it's an art," she says. "And if you don't like to fight, it is going to be a problem!" And whether it's for an Olympic medal or for a loose ball on a soccer field, fighting has never been a problem for these twins. And that's especially true for evil twin Tracy, right Lanny?