Corey Cogdell's road to London included more than two weeks living alone in a camper in the Arizona heat this month, a temporary home on the range that paid off Sunday when the Eagle River woman clinched the country's lone Olympic berth in women's trapshooting.
The 2008 bronze medalist who grew up hunting in Alaska and bagged her first moose at age 18, Cogdell won the U.S. Olympic Trials with three days of consistent shooting at the Tucson Trap & Skeet Club, the place where she camped.
Down by six shots after a match last fall that constituted the first half of the Olympic selection process, Cogdell rallied to win by 10 shots.
She conquered her nerves to turn what had started as a tightly contested battle on Friday -- five women separated by eight shots -- into a romp on Sunday.
"It's been amazing. Very, very stressful," Cogdell said Sunday in a phone interview. "I think this is the most stressed I've been in four years. It feels nice to have it over."
Cogdell, 25, lives and trains in Colorado Springs, Colo., but decided she needed to relocate in order to get used to the desert heat and the shooting range where the Olympic team would be decided.
"That was definitely a big sacrifice for me," she said. "I'm fortunate enough to have some really good family friends that let me borrow their truck and camper, so I've been living at the range in a camper for basically the last three weeks. I moved to a hotel for the match.
"I've been training in 100-degree heat nearly every day, so I'm thankful all those sacrifices paid off."
Her living arrangements allowed her to escape Colorado's unpredictable spring weather, which includes rain and even snow. It also let her become comfortable at the Tucson shooting club's new Olympic facilities, which have only been in place for about two years.
Only one of her competitors made a similar choice to spend advance time in Tucson, and that person arrived long after Cogdell did.
"I knew I would be able to train consistently and get adjusted to the heat, because it was brutally hot here," Cogdell said. "The range facilities are new so no one had a homecourt advantage, and I thought it would be really important for me to feel comfortable and confident on the range."
Though Arizona didn't throw rain or snow at her, it did serve up wind. When competition began on a blustery Friday last week, Cogdell was prepared.
"I knew as soon as we heard there would be upwards of 20 mph winds and gusting winds that would give me a chance to create some separation and make up those targets," she said. "There was a great opportunity there with the bad weather and I wanted to take advantage of it."
Sure enough, Cogdell shot 91x100 Friday to go from six shots down to two shots up.
She followed that with a 94x100 on Saturday to build her lead to five shots.
On Sunday, she hit 47 of 50 targets early in the day to take an eight-shot lead into the 25-target finals that evening. There, she shot her lowest score of the Trials, a 21, but still managed to stretch her lead to 10 shots.
Consistency carried her. In the 10 rounds before the finals, Cogdell fired 232x250, posting six 23s, three 24s and one 22.
Cogdell said Friday's performance was key. Even though wind makes targets move in unpredictable ways, Cogdell didn't let the conditions faze her.
"I shot consistently in the wind, and that's not easy by any means," she said. "They were swirling everywhere. There was a crosswind going left to right and a little tail wind as well, so it was pushing the targets around.
"That kind of weather can be demoralizing, especially if you miss one or two. It's easy to freak out a little. So to stay mentally tough is really important. It's really easy to get really tense, to tighten up, and that makes everything worse because you want to stay nice and loose and relaxed in the wind, which in your mind is counter-intuitive. So you're fighting natural instincts."
Cogdell had her share of misses that day, but she didn't let them get to her.
"A lot of people get anxious. They get angry or frustrated. The whole match I didn't get angry or frustrated. I just laughed it off."
Reach Beth Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.