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"calling the shots" -Chloe levins '20-

Anyone asking Chloe Levins ’20 how she spent the summer before her senior year at Middlebury College might want to find a chair—even the abbreviated version is going to take a while.

The Rutland, Vermont, native devoted the month of July to training with the U.S. biathlon team in Europe, pursuing a passion Levins hopes will lead to a spot on the Olympic team for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, China. Not content to sit idly in August, she won the Vermont State Women’s Golf Association Amateur Championship, running away from the field for an eight-shot victory.

2019 Junior World Championships in Osrblie, Slovakia.

This peripatetic lifestyle is old hat for Levins, who has been juggling the worlds of golf and cross-country skiing since she was a child. The added demands of pursuing a degree in neuroscience at Middlebury have only sharpened her focus and honed her time management skills.

“I was spreading myself too thin and I had to make some choices,” Levins said of her years at Middlebury. “I wanted to play golf because (college) would be my last chance to play competitively. I also knew that traveling with biathlon is something I was planning on pursuing as well.”

2016 U.S. Nationals in Fort Kent, Maine.

Levins’s success in both sports illustrates how well she has made her choices work. In golf, she is a two-time medalist at the NESCAC Championships and in 10 tournaments over the last two seasons has finished in the top 10, winning medalist honors three times. She also is only the second player in program history to qualify for the NCAA Division III Championships.

Levins’s biathlon career evolved out of her time as a Nordic skier. She raced at the Junior World Championships as a junior and senior at Rutland High School and at the Youth Olympics in 2016.

“I had a very good season (in 2016), and the U.S. national (biathlon) team noticed me and placed me on the developmental team,” she said. “I was just starting my trajectory internationally in my final years before coming to Middlebury.”

2018 Junior World Championships in Otepää, Estonia.

Levins’s Middlebury College roots run deep. Her father, James, skied for the Panthers and graduated in 1975. Her brother, Jimmy, a 2011 graduate, was a four-year member of the Nordic ski team and excelled on the golf course, earning All-NESCAC honors three times and helping Middlebury win two conference championships.

(L-R): Jim '75, Jimmy '11, Grandma Widman, Chloe '20, Keely '13, Augie and Mary Anne.

Sister Keely earned her degree in 2013 after notching nine top-25 races in Nordic skiing. In golf, she was instrumental in Middlebury’s 14th-place finish at the 2013 NCAA Division III championships and was runner-up as a senior at the NESCAC Women’s Invitational.

Chloe tees off during the 2019 NCAA Women's Golf Championships.

With that foundation, becoming a Panther was a no-brainer for Chloe.

“I didn’t go on a single college tour,” she said. “I was lucky because Jimmy and Keely paved the way for me here. I’ve been emulating them and what they did for a good long while.

(Middlebury College - Chris Spencer)

“I had a conversation with Jimmy while he was at UVM in medical school. He said, ‘Chloe, the education you will get at Middlebury is unmatched, and the relationship you will have with your professors can’t compare at any other institution.’”

Levins’s mother, Mary Anne Levins, would take her toddler along when she played golf—Chloe remembers having a putter in her hands at age two and hitting shots at age four.

“I’ve never had a lesson, and I didn’t begin keeping score until I began playing competitive golf in high school,” Levins said. “My mom . . . instilled in me that golf is a lifetime sport. It’s a character sport, a sport of etiquette and respect, and it is a privilege.”

It’s also a sport that demands mental toughness, something Levins summoned during the Vermont’s Women’s Amateur. She had entered that competition only once before, when she finished second as a 16-year-old, and she hadn’t played a round in three weeks when she played in the tournament last month at Middlebury’s Ralph Myhre Golf Course.

Chloe sinks a putt during the Vermont Women's Amateur. (photo courtesy of Austin Danforth - Burlington Free Press)

“Honestly, I had no expectations coming into the week,” Levins told the Burlington Free Press. “I wasn’t sure how I would respond to being under the gun.”

Levins had a seven-stroke lead heading into the final 18 holes of the 54-hole tournament but saw that advantage shrink to two shots on the front nine. That’s when she steadied her game and pulled away to victory over the final holes.

“I was too comfortable,” Levins told the Free Press of her early hiccups. “I needed to feel pressure—I thrive under pressure. Once the lead got down to two shots I was like, ‘OK, now we’re back on. No one’s giving this to you. You have to go take it.’”

2018 Open European Championships in Ridnaun, Italy.

Mary Anne was also instrumental in her daughter’s early involvement with Nordic skiing through her involvement as a volunteer for the northeastern Vermont division of the New England Bill Koch Youth Ski League. Chloe watched the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics with some of her Koch League friends and was hooked on biathlon.

“Every dramatic characteristic of sports that you can think of is in biathlon once you understand how it all works,” Levins said. “Being a young cross-country skier, I knew the level of physical exertion they were doing while shooting, and I was even more impressed as a 12-year-old.”

2018 Junior World Championships in Otepää, Estonia.

As Levins’s interest in biathlon grew, she began working with Olympic gold medalist Algimantas Shalna of Lithuania.

“I trained at the Army barracks in Jericho, and I had huge support from my family when I was learning the sport. My mom used to drive me from Rutland nearly two hours each way twice a week to allow me to train.”

2018 Training Camp in Dobiacco, Italy.

Competing on the junior circuit during her teenage years took Levins around the world, with competitions in Italy, Norway, Germany, Slovakia, and Belarus. She hoped to earn a spot on the 2018 U.S. Olympic team in PyeongChang, South Korea.

“I got myself into good enough shape to ski fast enough to make it, but it came down to how well I could shoot,” Levins said. “It ultimately came down to a couple of missed shots that determined whether or not I was going.”

Opening ceremony at the 2018 Open European Championships in Ridnaun, Italy.

The goal now is Beijing in 2022, when Levins hopes to join the growing ranks of Vermont Olympic biathletes.

On the immediate horizon is her final year at Middlebury, with an academic regimen Levins hopes will prepare her for a career in medicine.

“I am really interested in the brain/computer interface where you can control prosthetics by just thinking,” she said. “Helping Paralympic athletes and others with prosthetic limbs gain function would be really rewarding.”

Golf takes center stage this fall, while biathlon grabs the spotlight over the winter.

2017 Stage 1 Olympic Qualification race in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

“My professors and the College have been extremely helpful while I am away,” Levins said. “They have allowed me to do work while on the road and away from campus. That has been a huge help.

(Middlebury College - Brett Simison)

“I want to invest fully in qualifying (for the 2022 Olympics) and performing well. I don’t want to scrape my way onto the team; I want to be fully immersed and a contributing member. I also have hopes of playing golf at a high level and attending medical school at some point.”

With Levins’s history, odds are she succeeds on all fronts.

Chloe has her eyes focused on both her final year at Middlebury, while her future plans following college aren't too far off.