Tag Archives: Biathlon Canada

Brittany Hudak: The Interview!

Brittany Hudak is a Canadian para biathlete. The 24-year-old from Prince Albert competes in the standing races and made her World Cup debut in 2013. She was born without the lower part of her left arm and was inspired to pursue para nordic sports seriously after meeting Canadian para cross-country skier Colette Bourgonje. She has already competed at the Paralympic Games in Sochi 2014 and is looking forward to the next Games in PyeongChang in March 2018. As well as racing in cross country and biathon she is also studying for a degree in social work.

You can follow Brittany on Twitter: @brittanyhudak93
and Instagram: brittany_hudak

Why did you become a biathlete?

I grew up on an acreage in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan so I had shot paintball guns and pellet guns as a kid. I mainly aimed the paintball gun at my older brother and then shot army men and old pop cans with the pellet gun. Then I first tried the biathlon rifles when I was 18 and immediately loved it! I guess I always enjoyed shooting, so the idea of combining skiing and shooting was appealing to me.
I also like how every race can feel so different and it’s always exciting. I find I just keep coming back for more because of the challenge. I knew I would never be bored in this sport! Plus, shooting is FUN! Also, I really like nature. Skiing in all different places really makes me happy.

How do you assess last season? Were you happy with your performances?

Last season was difficult for me. For those that don’t know, I struggled with injury last season. I had anterior compartment syndrome which proved to be a challenge in getting through my skate races. The symptoms were the worst in my biathlon and skate races so luckily, I had classic technique races I could compete in as well. Sadly, many of my performances were below what I would have hoped for but I was still able to set a goal for each race. Even though sometimes that meant my goal was to just shoot clean or work on race strategy, I felt like I always did my best.
On a positive side, I was able to really work on the mental aspects of sport as well as my shooting. I actually found that with my skate technique being put on the back burner due to injury, I put a lot more focus on improving my shooting. I had some of the best shooting I’ve ever had in my races last season, so I was thoroughly happy with the progression I made with my ability to shoot over the year.

The World Cup returns to Canmore this season. Are you excited about racing at home? Do you get nervous or feel extra pressure racing in Canada?

It’s pretty rare that we get to race in Canada on our circuit so I’m really excited about racing at home. I’m a little nervous to be racing at home just because I know there will be so many people rooting for us so I would really like to perform well. That being said, I know that I will be able to feed off the home crowd energy and push a little harder while out there on the tracks.

What are your plans for summer training? Is there anything specific that you would like to improve?

The first part of my summer has been easing back into training while recovering from surgery. May and June consisted of a lot of biking since that was the mode of training that I was first able to do after surgery. For July, I will be hanging around Canmore, AB. for training. My first training camp with the team will be in New Zealand for three weeks in August. This camp is on snow so I’m really striving for improving my ski technique. Since I’ve only been skiing 5 years I still put a significant emphasis on refining my overall ski technique and efficiency. Then again this appears to be a sport where you’re always working on your technique so I would say that is mainly my focus for the summer months.

Are you excited about the up coming Paralympic Games? What are your goals for racing in PyeongChang?

The Games are coming up really fast which has me both excited and anxious! I’m excited to race at the Paralympic Games but I’m amazed at how fast the four years leading into the Games went by. I remember having so many goals in mind and now that the time is fast approaching, I’m reassessing some of those goals and fine tuning a bit. I think my main goals for the Games are to have performances that resemble my true ski ability. As simple as it sounds, I’m really striving to have races that are the best of my ability. More specifically I’m really hoping to do well in the long-distance biathlon. Shooting clean in this race is very important and I would say with my shooting results in this discipline last year, I would love to shoot clean in this race at the games. Really hoping for good shooting results at the Games!

Can you describe for my readers (who probably don’t follow much para-biathlon) how you shoot with one arm?

So how it works for shooting with one arm is we are allowed to have a stand that the stock of the rifle can rest on while we shoot. Since many of the athletes have one shorter or no arm at all, we need something that allows the barrel to be pointed in the right direction. This stand has a spring attached that flexes in all directions. The rules are that the spring must be lined up straight while shooting and not being forced in any direction.
The easy part for us in biathlon is that we approach the range and our rifles are brought out to the stand with a magazine loaded.

Do you train alone mostly or with your teammates? Do you ever train with the biathletes from the IBU team?

While I do love to be social, I would say for the majority of my training I do it on my own. Depending on the day, I will train with my teammates or coach Robin McKeever. If I’m training in Canmore, I will have shooting practices with my teammate Mark Arendz and will often do intensity sessions with him as well. If I’m away on a training camp, then I definitely train a lot more with my teammates. I do put an emphasis on training alone for some sessions so that I can tune in to what I’m doing and really spend the time I need to work on something specific.
While I don’t specifically train with the biathletes like Rosanna Crawford, I do see them on the trails quite often! It’s really inspiring to get to be around so many high level skiers in one place!

Canada has a really good para-nordic team. Do you get help from your country in term of funding and support like coaching/physios/wax techs etc? How does it work?

Our team has been fairly consistent with producing results, so this in turn has led to a rewarding amount of support and funding. Our training centre is based out of Canmore so all our support staff are here as well. We have access to our national team head coach Robin on a daily basis as well as physio, massage and wax techs. As long as we produce results, our program will continue to earn funding that goes to cover the costs of getting support like physio, wax techs, coaching and travelling to competitions. We are ever so fortunate to have such amazing staff because I think it helps keep the team progressing forward with their goals.

More and more of your fellow athletes are doing both a winter and summer sport now. Have you ever considered turning to the ‘dark side’ of summer sport? What sport would you do?

I’ve considered trying to do both a winter and summer sport. I think it would be cool to compete in shooting for a summer sport. I’ve looked into it a bit and found a few different options for shooting categories. I don’t think it would hamper my training for cross-country or biathlon either so that’s a bonus! Other than that, I would choose swimming as another sport. In Saskatchewan, I lived near many lakes so swimming has always been a passion of mine. I don’t know any technique for swimming but I just love being in the water.

What are your hobbies away from biathlon and cross country?

Does university count as a hobby? Just kidding. I do take online courses for a degree in social work which takes up a fair amount of my time but I enjoy many things. If it’s something outdoors, you can count me in! Whether it’s hiking, fishing or swimming I have a real passion for the great outdoors so you can often find me wandering outside. Or perhaps reading an interesting book and writing my genius ideas in my journal.

Does your rifle have a name?

Strangely enough I haven’t named my rifle.

Describe yourself in three words.

Goofy, adventurous, determined

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite track: I don’t think I could ever pick just one!
Favourite shooting range: middle of nowhere Saskatchewan. Technically not an official range, but doesn’t that make it more exciting?
Lucky bib number: 93
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Myself… I think I’m hilarious.
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Mark Arendz…he’s single ladies.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Being able to travel the world with a ski bag and a rifle.

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Megan Tandy: The Interview!

tandy

Megan Tandy is a Canadian biathlete from Prince George in British Columbia who currently lives in Germany. She was born on the 10th of September 1988 and is part of Biathlon Canada’s A Team. Last season was her best so far achieving her best finish to date. She is really looking forward to the coming season where she will be able to compete in a home World Cup in Canmore.

You can follow Megan on Twitter: @meganTandy88
You can like her Facebook Page: Megan Tandy -Heinicke-

Why did you want to become a biathlete?

Because I wanted to shoot! I first tried biathlon with my local club when I was 12. I had already done cross country ski lessons and one day when I was skiing with my family we saw the biathlon team practising. The coaches let me try it, standing targets from the prone position with a rest, but nevertheless I was so stoked to hit 5 for 5. I just thought it was the coolest thing ever. Bragging rights at school for sure!

Last season was your best ever finishing 11th and getting another 9 Top 30 finishes. How pleased were you with how the season went and what are your goals for this season?

I was really pleased with the season. During the last year there have been a lot of changes in my life: I separated from my ex-husband last summer and going through all the stress of a separation with a young child has been difficult and exhausting. That being said, last season I found myself feeling more confident than I have in years, more motivated and surrounded by so much positive energy and support. Basically, I was delighted and surprised to have such a good season despite everything I had going on in the background. My goals for next season – TOP 10! I was quite close to breaking into the Top 10 last season and this year I want to shave off those extra few seconds 🙂

You currently live in Germany. How does that help you and where do you train? Do you miss not being able to train with your Canadian teammates?

Training in Germany works well in some ways – there are a lot of athletes and a lot of great training facilities within a small area – at least compared to Canada! Training conditions are great. I split my time training in Ruhpolding, where I have world class facilities and world class athletes to train alongside, and Klingenthal, where I mostly train alone but enjoy the long, peaceful training sessions. I definitely miss my teammates – I was able to join some of my team for 2 weeks this July and it was great! Training is not about having fun per se, but I do miss the social aspect sometimes. I am looking forward to joining them again this winter.

How does your funding situation work? As you don’t train at the Nordic Centre in Canmore could this cause you problems in the future in terms of getting funds from Biathlon Canada?

This is a tricky situation for me. Not being a resident at a Canadian National Training Center caused me not to receive federal funding for 4 years which was a huge challenge. Without a top 8 finish at World Championships this year I will not meet the ‘out of country’ qualifications to receive funding. It is disappointing but the funding situation will determine whether I am able to continue racing until the 2018 Olympics or not. I am so grateful to the private sponsors who have made it possible for me to come this far, but even this can be tricky as a Canadian spending so much time overseas.

Describe your typical race day. What time do you get up? What do you eat? etc

Usually I get up early on race days. I am always too excited and too nervous to sleep in – even if my race isn’t until the evening. I am one of those people who can literally eat ANYTHING and feel fine. As a junior athlete I sometimes started races after having eaten a chocolate bar or something weird. These days my race day food is pretty boring: coffee, juice, porridge and often boiled egg.

What are your strengths as a biathlete and what are your weaknesses? Do you have anything that you specifically want to improve before next season?

I am definitely a better shooter than skier. I feel like my biggest strength on the shooting range last season was mental, even at exciting moments like the last bout before hitting 20/20 in an Individual race or being in 2nd position in the women’s relay, I was really good at focusing on the next target and not letting my own excitement distract me from my job. My ski technique is the biggest thing I need to improve – I am just not a natural glider so I need to work really hard on having good glide and good balance while skiing.

Sportspeople are famous for being superstitious. Do you have any superstitions? Do you always put your right/left ski on first or wear the same underwear on race day?!

I am actually not superstitious at all. When I was younger I sometimes told myself that if I had a good bib number I would have a good races or something but nowadays I am pretty practical and boring – the only thing I believe in is myself on each day and my ability to bring together a good performance, or not.

How excited are you that there will be a World Cup round in Canmore this season?

So excited! Canmore is ‘’only’’ about 700km from my hometown Prince George, BC which feels like nothing compared to most of our races here in Europe. I can’t wait to race at home with Canadian fans and my own family there to watch. It is also a wonderful way to build excitement about biathlon in Canada. Biathlon isn’t the most popular sport and we haven’t always had a lot of exposure at home since the 2010 Olympics despite amazing results from our team last season.

Does your rifle have a name?

No…that is so sad, I should probably think of one. I just call it ‘rifle’.

Describe yourself in three words.

Stubborn, stubborn and stubborn. Just because I can be a bit of a perfectionist.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Ruhpolding
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Pursuit
Favourite/best race of your career so far? 11th place Sprint result in Ruhpolding, or my 10/10 relay leg in the Sochi Olympics
Favourite food: Warm, fresh bread or possibly gummy bears depending on the day
Favourite singer/band: …my boyfriend in the shower when he thinks I’m not listening!
Favourite film: Pride and Prejudice
Favourite TV show: Orange is the New Black

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