Initially when I was first enrolled in the Jackrabbit XC ski program in my hometown of Red Deer, Alberta, it is safe to say I was not a huge fan. “Can’t I just go downhill?” In a family of avid downhill skiers, we would get up at the crack of dawn most weekends and make the 3.5 hour drive to Lake Louise to get our fix. Soon enough I began to love cross country skiing and traded in my snow pants for spandex.
The ’98 Alberta Winter Games in my hometown kicked off my interest in biathlon and 2 years later I moved to my current home and site of the Biathlon National Training Center, Canmore, to train fulltime. Thinking at the time I would only give it a try for a year or two, 13 years later it has been a joyous ride.
With any long career there have been mountains and valleys. Earning my first World Cup medal in 2006/07 spurred me for higher goals, however a bout of mononucleosis and a lumbar disc protrusion, almost ended my career. Though it severely affected me for the next couple of years, I was driven by the possibility that I would get to represent Canada in my own back yard at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Something that will stick with me forever was a trip back to my elementary school the summer before the Vancouver Games. Asked by a former teacher to come and speak with her students. The outpouring of emotion and overwhelming support I received from the staff and students was gratifying and energizing. To see the light in the students’ eyes as I spoke to them about my experiences, my goals, and the fact that I came from the very room they were sitting in, put me over the edge. I knew that I wasn’t just doing this for myself, but I had a whole family of supporters. (Ok, perhaps it was my hot pink rifle that caused the spark in their eyes, but they were excited nonetheless).
Though I successfully achieved my goal, and had the privilege of walking into the Olympic stadium in Vancouver with a maple leaf on my back, I was left with wanting more.
Sochi isn’t about attending as a 3rd time Olympian. It’s about fierce determination and perseverance to get back to podium performance level. Back with a former coach who helped me achieve success early on in my career and a hunger to once again to be one of the world’s best, I continue to do all in my power to be in the best shape of my life for the start line in Sochi.
Being a 24/7 amateur athlete isn’t as glamorous as one might think. Multimillion-dollar endorsement deals are fiction not reality for most amateur athletes working to their way to the top. Life as an amateur athlete is unlike that of a professional. I have to pay to represent my country and pay to be a part of the World Cup team….something I gladly do. However, I could use a little help. To be part of the team I need to pay $8500 this year, which doesn’t include the long list of other costs. From training equipment to ammunition, physiotherapy, chiropractic treatments, sport psychology, food and rent, the bills quickly add up.
Your support for helping me fight for a podium finish is a journey I’d like you, your family, friends and community to be a part of. I’m going to be in Sochi and I hope you will be there with me!
Here is a little taste of one of my my givebacks for all my great fans...