Team Nova Scotia is sending four females and four males to Prince George, B.C. to compete in biathlon from Feb. 15-21.
King’s-Edgehill School (KES) graduates Mackenzie Seagram and Zachary Lakes will represent Nova Scotia in the national competition along with Katrena Thomas, a Grade 11 student at the Windsor-based independent school.
Team manager Karen Jones, a teacher at KES, is optimistic the local athletes will make their presence known in B.C.
“All three of these athletes have met success at the Cadet National Championships more than once. They are disciplined and consistent in their training,” says Jones, who noted that team was selected based on the results of previous competitions.
Jones says biathlon is a demanding sport that requires rigorous training.
“Biathlon demands a lot of fitness and focus and the coaches have dedicated time and effort to their training plan over the years. Biathlon is not a sport that can be mastered quickly,” Jones explains.
Biathlon combines cross-country ski racing with target shooting.
“The criteria for Canada Games selection is tough and complete commitment is necessary. Starting at the end of last season the athletes followed a training plan given by the head coach,”says Jones.
“They needed to maintain their goals when the going got tough and keep the focus for the games even though the horizon seemed distant.”
Thomas, 17, was encouraged to give biathlon a try after taking up cycling at KES.
“I got skiing pretty fast because it is like skating, but shooting is always the thing that I’m working on the most,” says Thomas, who has competed in four national tournaments through cadets.
Thomas finished nationals last year with a silver medal after racing up a level. She will be aiming for personal bests in the shooting range and on the racetrack at the Canada Games.
“It’s exciting, nerve-racking a bit but exciting because my team is my family now. We spend so much time together.”
Mackenzie Seagram, 19, joined the biathlon team at KES in Grade 8.
“I like that it’s hardcore and at my high school there was just a nice group of athletes there who wanted to work hard and were very welcoming,” the Acadia University student recalls.
Seagram, a member of Acadia’s cross-country running team, has attended her fair share of tournaments for running, soccer, rugby and biathlon, but the Canada Games will be a bucket list experience.
“This is definitely the coolest and it’s multi-sport, which is, I think, what makes this so unique,” Seagram says.
She says it’s important to be internally motivated in a sport like biathlon.
“There’s so many different factors at play that when something does go wrong, I’d say the hardest thing is to be in that mental state of mind that you can still push yourself.”
Biathlon, Seagram continues, is the most mentally challenging sport she’s trained for.
She says the coaches are always there to give the athletes an extra push when it is needed, and she’s excited to see how her team compares to the competition at the Canada Games.
“I’m really excited just to be surrounded by like-minded, hard working athletes. I think it will be nice just to be in the community of people who have worked so hard to get there.”
Zachary Lakes, 20, hopes to place within the top ten in his races.
“It feels amazing being able to be at the Canada Winter Games, just to be able to say I am having this experience is awesome,” he says.
Lakes, who is originally from Wolfville, is determined to make the most of his time in B.C.
He plans to push himself on the track, and meet some news friends between competitions.
“I love biathlon because it is so different than anything I have ever done. Plus, I love the look on people’s faces when I tell them I do it, many have no idea what it is.”