Tag Archives: Canmore

Nils-Erik Ulset: The Interview!

Photo Credit: Biathlon23!!!

Nils-Erik Ulset is para-biathlon legend! The 36-year-old Norwegian has competed in 5 Paralympic Games from Salt Lake City 2002 to PyeongChang 2018. He has won biathlon medals at four of those Games including gold in Vancouver in 2010. He has 10 World Championship medals three of which are gold. He was born with a genetic condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease that affects the muscle strength in his legs. He has also been a World and Paralympic Champion in cross-country skiing.

Follow Nils-Erik on Instagram!

Why did you become a biathlete?

I have an older brother who started biathlon, and of course since he was a role model for me I had to follow in his steps.
(His brother is John Ola Ulset who represented Norway at IBU World Cup level.)

How did you assess last season? What were you happy with and what disappointed you?

Last season was a little up and down. The good races were very good winning world cup races, taking a medal in the world championship and finishing second in the overall cup. But my main goal was the world championship sprint and being so far from the podium in this race was a disappointment.

The first World Cup this season is in Lillehammer! Are you excited about that? Do you know the course there well?

It will be awesome starting the World Cup in Lillehammer. I know the area well since I lived for 7 years in Lillehammer, but I think we are going to use the FIS world cup tracks which I haven’t tested out yet. But I know they will be tough!

Are you focusing only on biathlon now? Will you do any cross country races this season?

Yes, I’m only focusing on biathlon now. I’ll never do cross country World Cup races again.

How does your impairment affect your skiing?

I have maybe 25% of normal muscle strength in my lower legs and my balance is very bad. So for me the hardest parts are flat areas where you benefit from having good balance. Also very soft(spring) conditions and icy tracks is some thing that I can struggle with.

What have you been doing for summer training? Are training with any of the IBU biathletes this summer?

This summer I have been focusing much more on strength training, a lot of roller skiing and some trail running.
I’m doing all my training camps with the Norwegian development (B-team), this is something that really suits me and helps me a lot in pushing forward.

When Norwegian biathletes retire they seem to become your coach! Lars Berger then Martin Eng. Who will coach you this season – L’Abbe Lund, Svendsen or Bjoerndalen?!!! Seriously though what is it like having ex-biathletes as your coach? How have they helped you?

Well actually Lars Berger is back again as my coach and in previous seasons, especially towards PyeongChang I got a lot of help and advice from Ole Einar. It’s great to have the possibility to ask these athletes for advice and to learn from them.

What are your goals for this season?

The main goal this season is the biathlon World Championships in Østersund.

Do you have a job? If so how do you fit your training around it?

I work part time in a sports shop that specializes in mountain sports like ski mountaineering, climbing and trail running.

Do you have a favourite track? Where is it and why?

My all time favourite tracks are Natrudstilen Sjusjøen, Canmore, Whistler Olympic Park and Nordmarka Surnadal. All these tracks really suit me and my strengths, and are located in really nice places.


Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present/IBU or IPC) and why?

Ole Einar Bjørndalen (of course) and Martin Fourcade. They are both amazing athletes who always push themselves forward and are ahead of everybody in their development as athletes. They are fair athletes who also take a clear stand for clean and fair sports.

Does your rifle have a name?

No I’ve never named any of my rifles.

Describe yourself in three words.

Stubborn, curious and childish.


Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Lukas Hofer
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway
Favourite shooting range: Martell
Lucky bib number: Any
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Gregory Vovchinskiy
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Mark Arendz and Benjamin Daviet
Best thing about being a biathlete: You get to ski around and shoot.

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Kyle Barber: The Interview!

Kyle Barber is a Canadian para biathlete and cross country skier. The 27-year-old who lives in Sudbury, Ontario has been racing since 2016. He was born with underdeveloped and missing fingers on both hands, known as symbrachydactyly, which means he skis without using poles.

Follow Kyle on Instagram: k.barber.para.nordic
and Facebook: Kyle Barber ParaNordic/Biathlon

Why did you become a Para nordic athlete?

It all started from a Paralympic talent search held in Toronto, Ontario in early 2016. I went to Toronto, performed a few athletic tests and the results stated that I would be good at either cross country skiing or cycling. I chose cross country skiing because of the biathlon aspect to it and my hunting background. I met the previous Canadian Para Biathlon Coach, Kaspar (Wirz), and my current Ontario Coach, Patti (Kitler) , shortly there after and the rest is history.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with and what disappointed you?

I assess last season as a success! I managed to gain WPNS points during the World Cup in Finland. I was not toohappy with my results at World Championships in British Columbia but I was able to shoot my first few clean rounds at in a race at World Championships. Currently I keep comparing season to season and so far it has all been a climb upwards.

What was it like competing at a home World Championships?

Competing on home soil for the World Championships was the best part about last year’s season. To have the local support and fans cheering me on around the race course really helped me keep going. I was not a fan of what seemed to be continual uphills because of skiing without poles.

You have only done a few biathlon races so far. How did you find them?

Biathlon and cross country skiing is tough! I have had a very short career thus far and I am still learning lots everyday. Biathlon is a challenge that seemed to be winning but I am not giving up on it and looking forward to performing better this upcoming season.

You have Mark Arendz and Brittany Hudak as teammates in standing biathlon. Do you get to train much with them? Have they given you any advice?

Unfortunately I do not get a lot of training time with my 2 teammates, who live in Canmore Alberta, but they are more than willing to answer my questions and let me bounce tactics off them. I do however get to train with Collin Cameron more as we are both living/training in Sudbury.

What are your plans for summer training?

Actually Collin and I just finished a training camp with our Canadian Biathlon coach John Jacques here in Sudbury. We are also getting ready to head to the Snow Farm in New Zealand leaving July 31st for 2.5 weeks. I will continue training at home while having 2 more camps in Canmore prior to the Norway World Cup in December.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I am stubborn. I consider that to be both a strength and weakness due to the fact I will not give up. It just all depends on the situation and how it looks when I take a step back and look at the bigger picture. My 2 biggest weaknesses while racing though is wearing glasses and trying to keep my hand/only finger warm. Since I only have the one thumb and terrible circulation, I can not wear contacts and it is hard to feel the trigger when my hand has gone numb.

What are your goals for this season?

My goals for this season are to keep improving my skiing and shooting techniques. This will entail in having better performances and results all around.

Do you have a job? If so how do you fit your training around it?

I work 40+hours a week depending on a lot of variables. Fortunately this job can be physical and I am always working outdoors. When it comes to training my coach and I make it fit, make it work and by far, make it count!

Do you have a favourite track yet? Where is it and why?

Currently my favourite track is in Canmore due to the fact of the surrounding picturesque mountain scenery. I have been told by many that this might change come August.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present/IBU or IPC) and why?

I thoroughly enjoy the time spent with my teammates. They all have great personalities and quite honestly I am not too familiar with or about others.

Does your rifle have a name?

It does not.

Describe yourself in three words.

Stubborn haha, challenge seeker, opportunist.

What the best thing about being a biathlete?

Everything!

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Maddie Phaneuf: The Return!

Photo courtesy of Maddie Phaneuf.

This season I am revisiting some of the biathletes I have interviewed in the past to see what has changed for them. The first ever interview on this blog was with US biathlete Maddie Phaneuf so she was the obvious choice to start with!!! 🙂

Follow Maddie on Instagram.
Check out her website: https://www.maddiephaneuf.com/

We last spoke nearly 5 years ago!! What has changed for you since then?

So much has changed! I think I may have still been living in Maine the last time we spoke, or had just recently moved to Lake Placid. Either way, since then I’ve mostly been training full time for biathlon, I took a mini break this past season (from August – March) and lived in Boulder, Colorado during that time and didn’t focus on training. Then this March I moved back to New York State and have been training again full time for biathlon. I’m back in Lake Placid, living on my own and training with the local ski club, NYSEF.

You have recently opened up about having PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) caused by the Olympics. What happened and why did you decide to about it publicly?

Basically I got really sick during the Olympics right when I was told I would finally be racing. I was beating myself up about it for months following the Olympics, and chose to go to therapy to get better. I decided to speak up about it because I know a lot of fellow athletes struggle with mental health issues, but not a lot of people actually talk about it publicly. I hope that speaking out gives others the courage to seek help.

How have you been dealing with it?

Mostly therapy. Also realizing what I need in my everyday life to keep a good balance between sport and life. For me that looks like having my own space (a house) where there’s no sign of professional sport, and I can mentally check out from training. I also have a lot of friends who aren’t teammates. Overall, just having a good balance between training and everyday life.

What advice would you give to other athletes who might have similar issues?

The biggest advice would be: You’re not weak if you ask for help. Honestly, I should’ve been going to therapy since high school, it just took me until my absolute breaking point to finally seek help. Also, know that it’s not your fault if you feel depressed/anxiety/any other mental health issue – mental health is an illness.

The US women’s team was fantastic last season. Does that inspire you to get back out training and racing to be part of it?

DEFINITELY!! I watched every race this winter when I was away from the sport, and I missed racing so much. Watching them crush it at World Championships, and leading the Women’s Relay for 3/4 of the race was so inspiring. I was so happy and proud of my teammates this season, and I’m very excited to be back on the training grind and can’t wait to race alongside them in the coming seasons.

What are your plans for summer training?

So I’m back in Lake Placid, NY training full-time with NYSEF. I’ve been training since the last week of April, and have been having a lot of fun and have been feeling great so far! I’ll be doing a lot of rollerskiing, shooting, trail running, strength training, mountain biking, and everything in between! I’ll be traveling down to North Carolina for a week in August to spend time with my family for vacation, which I’m very excited about because there are beautiful beaches down there! But yeah, nothing too crazy for me this summer, just training in New York.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think strengths would be shooting well under pressure, fast shooting speed, and being able to move past bad races. My weaknesses are usually slower ski speed, balance, and wanting to go mountain biking or rock climbing during my rest days!

What are your goals for this season?

To have fun and be happy. Also to race internationally on the IBU Cup and World Cup. I’d love to see myself racing at World Championships this winter, but I have no expectations for my first season back since taking last winter off 😉

Is Canmore still your favourite track and Franziska Hildebrand your favourite biathlete?

I still love Canmore, but I think Antholz may be my current favorite. My favorite biathlete to watch race is Hanna Oberg because she’s so strong on the range.

Does your rifle have a name yet?

Haha not yet! I need suggestions…

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Canada
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Marketa Davidova’s unicorn rifle!!
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway’s always looks classy
Favourite shooting range: Martell, ITA
Lucky bib number: I don’t have one!
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Sarah Beaudry
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Regina Oja – she gave me her clothes when my luggage didn’t arrive in Estonia!
Best thing about being a biathlete: Traveling the world and meeting new people from other countries.

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Aidan Millar: The Interview!

Photo courtesy of Aidan Millar.

Aidan Millar is a Canadian biathlete from Canmore. He was born on the 1st of December 1995. His career best result came last season in Soldier Hollow where he finished 20th in the Sprint in his first season as a World Cup athlete.

You can follow Aidan on Instagram.

Why did you become a biathlete?

I grew up skiing from a young age and when I was 9 I got to try biathlon for the first time. At the beginning I definitely liked the shooting way more but now I would say I prefer the skiing.

Your best result came last season, 20th place in the Men’s Sprint in Soldier Hollow. Tell us about the race.

Having raced three World Cups and not been able to put together a great race I was just focusing on executing what I could and not worrying about the result. I just paced my skiing well which was important with the altitude and a challenging course. With it being a windy day hitting targets was very important and I was very focused and was able to knock them all down. Up until the last shooting I knew I was having a good one but didn’t know how good until one of our techs told me I was close to a top ten. The last lap I gave everything I had, unfortunately I slipped down the order a bit but was still stoked with the result.

What was it like getting to compete at a home World Cup in Canmore?

It was an amazing experience. At the start of the season I didn’t think at all that I would get that chance. So to somewhat unexpectedly get the chance to race at home in front of friends and family was very special.

How do you assess last season overall? Were you happy with it? Was there anything you were disappointed with?

Last season went really well. I saw big improvements in both skiing and shooting and an improvement in consistency. Most of my goals were around the IBU Cup so to be able to accomplish those and get a chance on the World Cup was sweet. Initially I was disappointed with my shooting on the World Cup so I’d like to see that improve for this coming season.

There have been big changes in the men’s team this season with retirements and a change of coach. How has that affected you?

Everything is new to me as this is my first year on the team but so far things have been going well. We have good team dynamics with everyone getting along well. The coaches are great and already I’ve seen some good improvements.

I read that you have had some issues with concussions. Has that affected your biathlon career?

There was a period of about 4 years where I missed 1-3 months a year of training due to concussions. I was never really able to build a good base for training so my ski speed and stamina suffered. Now with 2 really good years of training I feel like I’m back on track and heading towards where I want to be.

What are your plans for summer training?

This summer we will be mostly training in Canmore taking advantage of all the great training opportunities in the area. At some point in August we will have an intensity block at lower altitude and mostly likely a fall camp in Whistler.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I would say my biggest strength would be my downhill technique. I find I can usually make up time there. My biggest weakness is probably the consistency in my shooting.

What are your goals for this season?

This year I’d like to be consistently in the top 40 on the World Cup with maybe another top 20.

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

My favourite track would probably be Antholz. The downhills are twisty and not just straight, the climbs aren’t ridiculously steep and the views aren’t too bad either.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

When I was younger I watched Emil Hegle Svendsen and Simon Schempp a lot. They were both at the top so I tried to learn from what they were doing.

Does your rifle have a name?

Unfortunately not.

Describe yourself in three words.

Disciplined, Introverted, Jokester

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Aita Gasparin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Russia World Championships
Favourite shooting range: Obertilliach
Lucky bib number: Don’t have one
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Scott Gow
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Anais Bescond
Best thing about being a biathlete: You get to do what you love while travelling the world.

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Scott Gow: The Interview!

Scott Gow is a Canadian biathlete who was born in Calgary on the 6th of November 1990. He was a member of the Canadian team who won their first Relay medal at the World Championships in Oslo 2016 finishing third. He has represented Canada at Youth, Junior and Senior levels and his best finish to date is 14th place in the Individual race at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. His younger brother Christian is also a biathlete.

Like his Facebook page: Gow Brothers Biathlon


Why did you become a biathlete?

I became a biathlete because when I tried the sport for the first time, I loved it so much I knew I wanted to keep training and practicing to become one of the best in the world.

How do you assess last season on the World Cup? You got a PB in Annecy and got to race in the Mass Start. What was that like?

Last season was my best season yet. I had a lot of personal best results, including at the Olympics, and had the opportunity to compete in the Mass Start. I’m happy with how I performed and it always feels good to see a hard summer of training pay off.

You went to your first Olympics in PyeongChang. What was that experience like? Tell me about finishing 14th in the Individual, were you happy or a bit gutted about the miss on the last shoot?

The Olympics was an amazing experience. The atmosphere of the Games, the athletes, the venues and everything else is over the top and catered to the competitors. It’s a very special experience to spend 2 weeks training and competing with all of Team Canada. The highlight of my Olympics had to be the 14th place. On the one hand I’m thrilled with the result and it’s the best I have ever performed, so it is hard to be upset, but on the other hand if I had hit my missed target then I would have achieved an even higher level. I’m sure I’ll wish for that shot for many years to come.

You won World Championships bronze in the Men’s Relay in Oslo. What do you remember about that race? How did it feel to stand on the podium with your brother?

The World Championships bronze was very special. It was my first medal, I achieved it with the rest of my team and I was sharing the experience with my brother. Oslo was an excellent atmosphere and the race was so exciting from start to finish. I still wonder sometimes how we did it.

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan up until December?

Summer training has been fairly normal for me. Most of the training has been in Canmore, and I’ve had two training camps: one in eastern Canada in Quebec and one in Park City, USA. The first camp is a low altitude, high intensity training focus and the second is a high altitude, volume focus. For the fall training I’m staying in Canmore where I will ski on Frozen Thunder and then prepare to leave for Europe mid November.

What are your goals for this season?

My goals for the season are to build on last year’s good results and increase my consistency. I would like to see consistent top 20 results with some top 10’s in there too!

What’s it like training, competing and travelling with your brother? Do you get on well?

Travelling with my brother is great. He is like a piece of home I can take with me everywhere I go. We get along very well.

Is it true that you want to study medicine after biathlon? Have you always been interested in that?

I have always been interested in medicine, and my focus in school is to still pursue that career. It’s just taking me a very long time.

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

My favorite track is in Antholz. It’s a beautiful place, with great food surrounded by mountains. It also reminds me the most of home so I like it for that reason as well.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

My favorite biathlete is Ole Einar Bjorndalen. I had his poster from the 2002 Olympics on my bedroom wall when I was growing up, and I always saw him as the greatest biathlete ever.

Does your rifle have a name?

I do not have a name for my rifle. Maybe I should think of one?

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Switzerland
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Michael Roesch
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): France
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Favourite biathlon siblings (not yourselves!): Bø brothers
Lucky bib number: 24
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Roesch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Anais Bescond
Best thing about being a biathlete: Skiing all winter.

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Christian Gow: The Interview!

Christian Gow is a Canadian biathlete who was born on the 28th of March 1993 in Calgary. He was part of the team who won Canada’s first ever relay medal at the 2016 World Championships in Oslo when they took bronze. His best finish to date on the World Cup is 21st in the Pursuit. His older brother Scott is also a biathlete.

Like his Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GowBrothersBiathlon/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I decided to compete in biathlon after trying it out at a Summer camp at Canada Olympic Park in the summer of 2001. I had so much fun at the camp and I was offered a chance to join a program in the fall, so I signed up and have been loving it ever since!

You were 21st in the Pursuits in Oestersund and Oberhof. Why are you so good in the Pursuit? Is it your favourite event?

I think the pursuit suits me well as a racer. I perform a lot better when I am able to ski with other people and I can manage the pressure of shooting in a group. I would say the pursuit is my favourite event, it is fast-paced, exciting, and the reason for several of my best results!

You went to your first Olympics in PyeongChang. What was that experience like? Were you happy with your performances there?

The Olympics were an incredible experience. I feel so fortunate that I was able to go, I have memories from there that I will never forget. I was happy with my Individual and relay performances, not as happy with my Sprint.

You won World Championships bronze in the Men’s Relay in Oslo. What do you remember about that race? How did it feel to stand on the podium with your brother? Also do you just perform well in places that start with ‘O’?

I feel like I remember every detail of that race, it was such a special and amazing day. I remember being really happy with my opening leg and getting more and more nervous the longer that we stayed at the front. Being on the podium was the best experience ever, and sharing it with my brother made it even better. Haha, I have never thought about it, but maybe that’s what it is!

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan up until December?

We have been in Canmore for most of the Spring and Summer except for a last minute camp out to Quebec because the smoke from forest fires was so bad. It has been routine training with a focus on volume in the earlier months. Our focus now is shifting more towards intensity and getting ready to race.

What are your goals for this season?

My goals are to continue building on my season from last year. I had a really good season with several new personal bests and I would like to continue that trajectory.

What’s it like training, competing and travelling with your brother? Do you get on well?

It’s great having Scott on the team with me. We get along really well and it is nice to always have each other for company.

What are your hobbies away from biathlon?

I like to read, play video games, and mountain bike.

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

I really like the course in Obertilliach (another O 😉 ), I have good memories racing there. On World Cup my favourite venue is probably Hochfilzen. Its a beautiful area and almost always nice weather.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

Ole Einar is my favourite biathlete. The first thing I learned about biathlon when I was starting was that he was the best in the world and so I always looked up to him.

Does your rifle have a name?

It does not.

Describe yourself in three words.

Outgoing, personable, dedicated.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): France
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Favourite biathlon siblings (not yourselves!): The Fourcades
Lucky bib number: None
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rosch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Simon Fourcade
Best thing about being a biathlete: Travelling the world and doing what I love.

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Derek Zaplotinsky: The Interview!

Derek Zaplotinsky is a Canadian para biathlete and cross country skier. He races in the sitting category and recently competed at his first Paralympic Games in PyeongChang. He lives in the awesomely named Smoky Lake, Alberta (which is the second best name for a lake!). He was paralysed in a motocross accident in 2006 when another bike landed on him. He initially tried hand cycling but made the smart decision to change to biathlon.

You can follow Derek on Twitter: @Derek_zap
Or Instagram: Derek_zap

Why did you become a biathlete?

Growing up in a small rural town in Alberta, shooting was something we enjoyed as kids. First with the pellet guns and then big game hunting. In all honesty I started cross country skiing because I wanted to do biathlon. I thought biathlon would be a fairly easy sport to compete in, with my experience with guns, but was I mistaken. I learned quickly it’s a lot harder than it looks. Biathlon is a sport that motivates me, I want the accuracy and speed while dealing with the heart rate and breathing.

PyeongChang was your first Paralympic Games. How did you find the experience overall?

The experience was overwhelming, but enjoyable. You train and prepare for years, but nothing can describe the feeling being there. You are competing against the best athletes in the world and the intensity level is high. I was proud to be representing my country and hopefully I’ll have the chance to experience this again in 2022.

Were you happy with your performances in Korea?

In all honesty, I was bummed with my performance. I went into the Games feeling good with my skiing and shooting. In the Biathlon sprint and 15 km cross country I was pleased with the 9th place results and was looking forward to putting it all together for the rest of the races. When it came to the middle distance biathlon I felt my skiing was good but my shooting was not consistent. Prior to the sprint cross country race I came down with a sinus infection, which definitely ended up hurting my performance for the rest of the Games.

Are you looking forward to the World Championships in Prince George? What are your goals for that event?

Yes, I did the Canadian Winter Games there 4 years ago and had some great results so I’m hoping it’s my good luck track. Without the extensive travel and no time difference to adjust to I would like to have a podium finish.

Do you still do summer training on a chair nailed to a skateboard or have you upgraded your equipment? 😉

Ha, Ha , Ha, not anymore. Upgraded and now use roller skis, works much better for shooting and simulates the position.

What are your plans for summer training?

A busy summer – there was a camp in Bend in June, I just got back from 3 weeks at the Snow Farm in New Zealand. It was good to be back on the snow, it helped break up the summer training. We have a camp in Mammoth Lakes in September, and I will make the 5 hour trip to Canmore for biathlon training as often as I can. If not at a camp, I ski around home following a daily program designed by my coach, along with a weekly strength program.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths – I would have to say would be my determination, and my competitiveness.
Weaknesses – I over think things and like to consistently play around with my sit ski, looking for the perfect fit.

What are your hobbies away from cross country and biathlon?

Really there is not a great amount of time for extra activities, if time and the weather works in my favor I enjoy boating with friends and snowmobiling in the mountains after the end of the season.

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

Finsterau, Germany. I had my best results of my career there so I can not wait to go back.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

Dorothea Wierer, with Emily Young a close second. She’s like the sister I never wanted.

Does your rifle have a name?

No name, we still aren’t close friends, but I’m working on that.

Describe yourself in three words.

Focused, determined and sarcastic.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Italy
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Marketa Davidova. Who doesn’t love unicorns?
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Sweden
Favourite shooting range: Canmore
Lucky bib number: Haven’t found it yet.
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Brittany Hudak
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Mark Arendz
Best thing about being a biathlete: Travel

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Steve Arnold: The Interview!

Steve Arnold is a British para biathlete and cross country skier. He was serving with the Royal Engineers in Afghanistan in 2011 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device and lost both of his legs above the knee. He initially started in sport as a hand cyclist but saw the error of his ways when he was introduced to Nordic skiing in 2017. He has also competed at the Invictus Games and was Vice Captain for the British team at the last edition in Toronto in 2017.

Follow Steve on Twitter: @stevearnold79
Check out his website: stevearnoldsport.com
He is on Instagram too: Instagram.com/stevearnold79

Why did you become a biathlete?

After finishing with GB Para Cycling in Dec 2016, I wanted a new challenge and Nordic/biathlon was a sport I’d never done before. I knew it was hard physically and technically but I wanted to see that for myself and see if I could push myself to the standard required to race for GB.

How hard was the transition from cycling to biathlon and cross country? Are there any similarities or are they very different?

Obviously the climate change was a little bit of a shock to the system going from a summer sport to a winter one but the most difficult bit has been learning the technique of moving the ski around on the snow. It’s also different muscle groups from the cycling so going from a lot of chest and arm work to back/lats and triceps has been an interesting challenge in the gym. (I’m not a lover of gym work!)

How do you assess your progress so far in para nordic? Are you happy with how it’s going? Have you identified areas which you need to work on?

After just one season I can’t really complain about my progress, I know there’s still plenty to learn on the technical side and I do need a bit more explosive power for the sprint races but with just being in the sport for a little over 16 months its been a good start with exciting times ahead.

You missed out on the Paralympics in South Korea. Does that motivate you more to make it to Beijing or will you just go season by season?

Not going to South Korea did hurt but its definitely made me start this four year cycle well. I’ve looked at how I can improve as an all round athlete and be at the top of my game in four years time. I also think you need to look at it season by season though, set yourself realistic goals, don’t be afraid to try new things in the first couple of seasons and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just looking at four years away for me would be mentally draining and I think it would take the enjoyment out of it.

What are your goals for this season?

Consistently be in the Top 15 in all Cross country/Biathlon races.
Know which distances I’m going to prioritise for 2019/20 by the end of this season.
Handle the ski better.
Improve in the sprint races.(explosive power)

What are you doing for summer training?

I’m currently working with GB Para Canoe to make me stronger and have better core stability, but along side that I’m back on the bike and Mountain board (roller skis) getting the miles in. Also plenty of time in the gym, soon the team will be out in Oberhof in the snow tunnel so looking forward to being back on snow.

You were in the Army. Does the shooting you learned there help you with biathlon or not?

Not really. Although the Marksmanship principles are the same it’s very different shooting an air rifle to a 5.56mm rifle. For one there is no kick back on the air rifle, you are only shooting 10 metres and the target is tiny. Put that all together with it being a race I’d say put me back on the front line anytime.

British Olympic and Paralympic snow sports are merging. Do you think that is a good thing for the para nordic team?

I think this is a great thing to happen to our sport and team to be training with the best British winter athletes in this country with great facilities and knowledge can only be a good thing.

You were Vice Captain of the British team last year at the Invictus Games. You must have been really proud of that. What was that experience like? Will you compete this year?

Being VC last year was incredible and I’m still very proud and honoured to be able to have been a small part of helping people change there lives for the better. It was amazing to see first hand how powerful sport can be in helping people. I wont be competing this year but I am the athlete representative on the UK Delegation Board so it’s been great to still be part of the Invictus Games in a small way.

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

I would have to say so far it would be Canmore in Canada. It’s just set in a great place and the town is incredible.

Does your rifle have a name?

No

Describe yourself in three words.

Honest,funny,fearless

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): CANADA
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): GB
Favourite shooting range: OBERHOF
Lucky bib number: 24
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: TRYVGE LARSEN (NOR)
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: COLLIN CAMERON (CAN)
Best thing about being a biathlete: You’ll never know how hard it is until you try it.

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Ian Daffern: The Interview!

Photo Credit: Les Berezowski Photography.

Ian Daffern is the head ski technician for the Canadian Para-nordic team. He has been to five Paralympic Games with the team starting in Salt Lake City and continuing all the way to the Winter Paralympics this past March in PyeongChang. He oversaw the skis for the 14 athletes who won a record 16 medals including 4 gold medals in cross country skiing but more importantly 1 in biathlon! 🙂

You can follow Ian on Twitter: @skiingwithian

Why did you become a ski technician? How long have you worked with the Para-nordic team?

I have been working with the Canadian Para-nordic team for 17 years. In the fall of 2001 Brian and Robin McKeever were looking for a ski technician to help them prepare and compete in the Salt Lake City Paralympics. They had just started with the team on the Para World Cup circuit and needed more ski and wax support on the race days. Since I had experience coaching at the same ski club and was friends with Brian and Robin it was a natural fit and as they say the rest is history. Five Paralympics later and I’m still excited to help as best I can in support of the Para team athletes quest for Gold.

The Canadian Para-nordic team had an amazing Paralympics. How did it feel to contribute towards that success?

Yes it was an unbelievable Paralympics for the team. It was amazing and very satisfying to see Canadian athletes on the podium everyday knowing the wax room technical plan and hard work since Sochi to prepare specifically for Korea was paying off. I have to thank my wax team of Laurent Roux, Bruce Johnson and Bjorn Taylor for believing and contributing to my personal Paralympics wax room goal of trying to have the best skis of the field for every race.

Can you describe what your typical day was like in PyeongChang?

A typical race day started with a 6am alarm followed by breakfast in the village food hall and a 7am bus to the race site. At the site we would check out the track conditions, have a quick discussion about the weather, snow and temperatures and start to prepare and plan the ski and wax testing for the morning prior to the athletes arrival. Once athlete skis, wax and structure selection was made the skis were prepared for racing just before the athletes start time. We had a runner who would bring the skis to the start line from the wax room. Strava records were broken everyday. 😉

Once the races were over, the afternoon was spent prepping, grinding and testing athletes skis for the next day races. Almost every night, due to the athletes success, the wax team would often go to the medal plaza for the 6:30pm ceremony followed by dinner back in the athletes village. After dinner there would be an athlete team meeting followed by a coaches / technicians meeting to go over the next days assignments usually finishing up by 10-11pm each night. Luckily Bruce is an expert at making cappuccinos on a wax iron so we were never short on caffeine!!

What is it like waxing in the cross country relay when you have someone racing two legs? What can you do to the skis in such a short time? Is it a bit stressful?!

It’s more of an adrenaline rush knowing you only have about 6-7 minutes to prep a pair of skis between relay legs. This was the case when Brian and Collin Cameron won bronze in the relay in Korea with each skier doing 2 legs. With the dirty snow conditions the main goal is to clean the skis right away and then apply a layer or two of the best testing flouro liquid or puck as quickly as possible. We were lucky to be able to bring a bench close to the exchange zone so it was fun to be in the thick of the action.

Are you excited about the World Championships coming to Canada? Will you have a wax advantage on home snow?! 😉

I am very excited to have the World Championships this upcoming season in Prince George. Head Coach Robin McKeever and I did a site visit in April to ski the trails and learn more about the conditions we can expect. I think and am hoping we will have a wax advantage since I plan to do some pre World Championship testing and we are familiar with the cold February conditions and snow in Canada. Some of the athletes on our team have competed on these trails before so they know what to expect. It will be a great event with challenging trails, a world class biathlon range and a enthusiastic organizing committee.

Are there any differences in waxing for para cross country than able bodied?

For a skier like Brian who is at a high level as an able bodied skier there are no differences. In classic skiing, grip waxing can slightly change for one arm or no arm skiers depending on the snow conditions as one pole or no poles can effect the amount of grip wax needed to climb the hills. Testing and waxing skate skis for the visually impaired and standing classes would be the same as for an able bodied program.

The biggest difference for sure would be in the sit ski category where there are many factors to consider such as whether the sit skier will use the tracks or race outside the tracks, the fact that the skis are always on the snow, the ability of the sit skier to control the skis on corners and on downhills etc. Most of the testing for sit skiers is done by the sit skiers whenever possible so they can test not only for speed and free glide but also their ability to turn and control the skis on corners. In a pinch though if time is tight one of the techs or coaches can run the sit skis since they have regular ski bindings on them.

Are you responsible for certain athletes skis or do help with them all?

As head technician I am responsible for the overall working of the wax room and all the athletes skis. Unlike many able bodied wax rooms I don’t assign specific techs to certain athletes skis as we are too small and few in number but instead have developed our own system of making sure each athlete has the correct skis for race day. I work closely with all the athletes each race to discuss and make sure the correct skis get tested pre race with the help of other coaches and technicians. Our grip wax specialist Laurent Roux will work only on classic skis but for all athletes on the team.

Have you ever had any waxidents? (accidents with wax)

Well most of our waxidents involve our grip waxer. 😉 He once set our wax table on fire with a heat gun and since he used a lot of soft klister wax in Korea our door knobs and everything else were always sticky. Perhaps the funniest waxident in Korea though was when I found klister wax all over our ski caddy which is used to take skis out on course for testing. It took a lot of wax remover to clean it up so I could use it for glide test skis again….

Do you have any good waxing tips for the non-expert?

Best advice for novices looking to make fast skate skis is to keep it simple. Sometimes the least expensive waxes can be the fastest especially in colder conditions so don’t be fooled by the price or amount of flouro as it doesn’t always correlate to ski speed. High flouro powders, gels, liquids and pucks for sure can be faster in humid and wetter snow so in those conditions try some of the newer waxing methods out such as the fleece buffer applications instead of ironing in powders and creating lots of fumes and smoke unless you have proper safety masks or good ventilation system. Also when the snow is wet, ski structure to prevent suction is more important than the wax so it’s good to invest in some basic ski structuring tools.

The Para-nordic season is pretty short with usually 3 World Cups and a major Championships. What do you do for the rest of the year?

Currently I am in Bend, Oregon (this was in June) where the Canadian Para team is having their first camp of the season. We normally have 3-4 camps in the off season which I help out at with the biggest being a 3 week skiing camp at the Snow Farm in New Zealand in August. Besides assisting at camps I am involved with planning, budgeting and purchasing equipment and wax for the upcoming racing season. Part of the this involves visiting the Fischer ski factory in October to select and pick up athletes skis followed by testing and a camp in Ramsau on the Dachstein glacier. Once we can ski in Canmore on the Frozen Thunder stored snow loop I am working with the athletes testing new skis and wax and preparing for the upcoming season. I often end up waxing at non para races throughout the winter season also.

Describe yourself in three words.

As a ski technician I would say organized, calm and relaxed.


Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlete: Mark Arendz of course!
Favourite track: Snow Farm, New Zealand.
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Samurai design on Mark’s rifle
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy
Funniest ski tech on the World Cup: Our grip waxer Laurent Roux !
Nicest ski tech on the World Cup: Steiner from the Norwegian Para Team
Best thing about being a ski tech: Celebrating a great day with the athletes.

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Collin Cameron: The Interview!

Canadian Collin Cameron is a para-biathlete and cross country skier in the sitting category. At the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Games he won three bronze medals, two in biathlon and one in cross country at his first attempt. The 30-year-old also won his first World Cup para-nordic race in PyeongChang in 2017 in the cross country Sprint. He was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that causes a shortening of the lower limbs and an under-development of muscles and tendons in the legs. Currently living in Sudbury, Ontario he works as a a safety compliance and driver trainer. He received a nomination for best facial hair in the Biathlon23 Awards – probably his best achievement to date! 😉

Why did you become a biathlete?

I was getting classified in early 2016 at the team USA nationals camp in Vermont and my coach at the time (Kaspar Wirz), basically said you should try this, so I did. I saw it as an opportunity for more race starts! I had never shot in my life, nor did I have much interest in doing it if I’m totally honest.

Two L’s in Collin! What’s that about? Do you get annoyed when people only spell it with one L? Or have you developed some coping mechanisms to deal with it?!! 😉


My mother always liked the name, but didn’t want it pronounced as colon so she figured having a second L would assure that never happened and also make it a little more unique. I commonly get just one L, so I’m just used to it now.

You got two bronze medals in biathlon at the Paralympic in PyeongChang. Where did that come from?! Tell me about the races and your emotions at the end?

Not really sure where it came from. I don’t train for biathlon at home, only just getting access to a range a month before Games, my only training until that point was at training camps or during World Cups. My skiing was not the best early season, but my shooting was still there in Canmore (World Cup 1), same can be said for Oberried (WC2). Things just came together at the right time for me in Korea and I found some of my speed and pace I was missing all season until then. The 7.5km race was the first race of the Games and I set it out as a warm-up race for me to get all the bugs out and get things moving in preparation for the cross country sprint which is the race I was planning everything around. So it was an obvious shock for me to be in third after crossing the line! I didn’t really believe it.

The 15km race was interesting because it was a bit of a last minute decision to race it. I had only done the Individual once ever before (in Oberried), but we were confident in my shooting so we figured I should just enter. I knew I was in it after the last round of shooting when all the range staff were at the bottom of the first climb yelling at me to go. I managed to find a bit extra turnover after hearing that. I was met by our team psych Dr. J after the finish line and he said I was sitting third with guys still to come. I thought for sure that was going to be temporary, knowing there are some amazing biathletes still out there that hadn’t finished. Once it was confirmed though, I was so thrilled, probably more so than after the 7.5km race. It was an amazing feeling sharing the podium that day with Dan Cnossen (who had a phenomenal games), and Martin Fleig (World Champion from Finsterau). I think also it was a sweeter feeling because I was able to regroup after my 4th place in the cross country sprint, which I was somewhat disappointed with because I had targeted that as my main race. The staff on the team said I came to Korea as a sprinter and left a biathlete, which is hard to argue with!

Sorry to repeat it but you finished 4th in the cross country sprint in such a close finish. Were you a bit gutted about that or happy that you were still challenging for a medal?

Totally gutted. We had planned all the other races around that day (and possibly relay day), so it definitely felt like a disappointment to be so close, in what is normally my strongest event. All that being said, it was still probably one of my best races! I also think it was a super important learning opportunity for me. The biggest gain from that was the discussion with my coaches on how to deal with that disappointment and how to transfer that into the next few days of racing. That was huge for me, and I was able to turn that missed chance into a second bronze in the 15km biathlon.

You won a bronze in the cross country relay with Brian McKeever in the secretly Scottish team! What was that race like for you?

Being on that open relay team was by far one of my favourite moments of the Games. It was a huge honour to be on the same team with a guy like Brian, who is a legend in the para world. I think it was also a testament to how hard I worked all year to stay healthy and find my form for the Games that the coach and Brian had the confidence in me to have us as a two man team. I was really looking forward to this opportunity since mid summer when we did some time trials in New Zealand when our coach was looking at possible relay teams. I had never done a relay before and the idea of being on a relay team, and possibly the same relay team with Brian, was definitely motivating and maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity. We had a really good idea going in that it would be a three person team for the open relay, but it wasn’t until the day before that things were shuffled around and I found out I was going to be doing two legs, not just one with Brian. I got a crash course from Brian and Graham Nishikawa his guide the morning of race day on how the exchange zone worked and that was pretty much it! We had a bit of fortune in the fact that the Ukrainian team had a time penalty for an early exchange, and I lost us a tonne of time on my second leg because I has some pole issues on the last climb. It was definitely an emotional experience for me, finishing 4th again, to having that upgraded moments later to 3rd. To finish that day on the podium with Brian, his guide Russell Kennedy (and Graham, who guided Brian on the first lap and every bit deserved sharing that moment with us) will always be a fond moment when I look back at my first Paralympics.

PyeongChang was your first Paralympic Games. What did you make of the whole experience and what did you learn from it?

I learned that you can’t always measure success on how many medals you get. I had some of my best races at the Games and finished 4th and 5th. The 4th on sprint day was a very important day for me as a whole when I look at going forward with this sport and what I want to achieve in it.

What are your goals for this season in biathlon? Will you focus everything on performing well in Prince George at your home World Championships?

Main focus this year is to continue to learn and keep my focus for the next Winter Games in 2022.

You don’t live in Canmore like some of the rest of the team. And you have a job. Where and when do you train?

I train after work almost every day, sometimes on some local roads closer to home, others a little further out of town on the old highway for longer workouts. I start my workday at 4am so I can finish around 2pm to have training time in the afternoon before my wife is done work so we can still have a somewhat normal life together in the evenings, which is super important.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

I have to give a shout out to Scott Meenagh here. He said in an interview a year or two ago that I was his favourite biathlete. Right back at ya, Scotty!
(Not any old interview Collin, he said it in a biathlon23 interview!!!)

Does your rifle have a name?

The rifle I use is technically the teams rifle, so I never thought of naming it. I’d have to give this some serious thought when the days comes that I have my own rifle!

Describe yourself in three words.
easy-going, driven, and hairy.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Totally neutral, can’t pick a favourite.
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Mark Arendz. His samurai design is pretty cool and unique on the para side, as there are not many custom rifle designs.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Our suit design for the Games is my favourite!
Favourite shooting range: Canmore. It’s tough to beat that view!
Lucky bib number: 3
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Emily Young. Purely based on her love and passion for the sport of biathlon. (? 😉 )
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Martin Fleig and Trygve S. Larson.
Best thing about being a biathlete: 3 extra race start opportunities 😉

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