Update on Racing Rousseau Sisters

Update on Racing Rousseau Sisters

The Rousseau sisters from Thesssalon reconnected for the first race of the season in Canmore Alberta. Chandra flew with her BXC ski team from Barrie, and Shilo drove with her friend Zoe from Whistler, BC.

 Shilo said, “The drive was amazing, but the switch backs were a little intimidating at first.”

Shilo had already been skiing in Whistler, where they save the snow from the last season and spread it on the trails in mid-October to get the athletes out on snow as early as possible. 

Shilo on the podium.
Shilo on the podium.

The trip was also a training camp for the team, to again be coached by Team Canada Olympic coach Ivan Babikov. The athletes and parents are very thankful that Coach Ron Howden was again able to line up such an amazing opportunity. Ron’s dedication to his athletes is remarkable, from helping with homework after school on the phone, face timing, staying on the phone while Chandra is running early in the morning, skyping her while doing straight training so that she always has someone with her.

Ron will just be one of those unforgettable coaches. His athletes will always be able to look back and with a big smile say, “Yes he played an important part in my life and I will forever be grateful to have had the opportunity to be coached by him. We owe a big thank you to his wife, who never seems to mind how committed and how much time he spends with the athletes. 

The first race of the season was a King’s Court sprint race where the skiers have the opportunity to race against other athletes with similar speeds, which could be male against female depending on the time qualifier.

After the qualifier they race 3 heats, which allows every racer to compete in the same number of races and no one gets eliminated. The top two racers move up and the bottom two move down. Coaches are finding out, this style of racing, helps to improve the overall performance of the athletes.

Chandra was not allowed to race, because she came down with a cold and sprint racing takes a lot out of an athlete. Shilo finished 7th place in the qualifier and move up to 6th after the heats.

The next day was the 7.5KM free race, which is Shilo's strength. She captured 1st places by under a second in the Junior Women category, against many top Canadian skiers

Chandra finished 18th out of 30 skiers, but is still 2 years younger than girls in this age category.

After the races, Chandra’s team finished off the week skiing, learning new things, and taking a few ventures out sight-seeing, before heading back to Ontario.

Shilo with Chandra and team in Canmore AB.
Shilo with Chandra and team in Canmore AB.

Shilo and her friend Zoe stayed in Canmore to do the Biathlon Canada team trial races. In the November 6th sprint race, Shilo finished 4th in the Junior Women category. (note that the Youth Women category age is different between biathlon and cross country). She shot 10 for 10, the only Canadian woman to do this on race day. All other Junior Women ahead of her were 21 years of age and Shilo just turned 18 this summer.

[image3[Out of all the SR and Junior women, because everyone races at the same time, she finished 7th overall. Biathlon Canada coaches were very impressed with her results, seeing her race against Olympians like Rosanna Crawford who is 30 years of age.

The race on November 8th, Shilo finished 4th in the Junior Women and 8th overall, but closer in time to the top Senior Women only a minute 1.36 behind, shooting 9 out of 10.

Where Shilo loses time is not on the skiing, in fact very little on the skiing, it is in the shooting range where Shilo takes a little longer to set up and to release her first shot.

It takes many hours of training and years to become quicker and shoot accurately. All these races are timed using a timing chip, so that on every lap coaches and parents can see where the time is lost in a race. Coaches use the feed-back, so they can improve the racers overall performances.

Shilo’s next race was a Modified Relay.  Biathletes race like it is a relay and have 3 extra bullets to use if they miss a shot either in prone or standing position. They race against each other just so that Canadian coaches can see how they would perform in a relay. Shilo finished in 5th place in the Junior Women and 8th overall with the Senior and Junior. Again, Shilo shot a perfect 10 for 10 using no extra bullets. Shilo also closed the gap in time against all the top Canadian women.

Shilo racing in bib #91.
Shilo racing in bib #91.

Saturday night the 10th of November an email came in from Biathlon Canada to say that Shilo made the Senior IBU tour and also the Junior Tour. We don't think ever in the history of Biathlon Canada, has a Youth Women ever made a Senior IBU tour.

So in the next few days Shilo and her coaches had to decide if she was going to take the offer or not. In the end Shilo declined the offer for a few reasons. One was so she could get her grade 12 finished by January and the major contributing factor was a lack of funds this year.

Even though we are fortunate to have found a sponsor for the girls’ flights, and so many people have helped out financially this year and every year, we still have to budget for her many events and equipment. One of the realities of amateur sports in Canada is the cost. It requires a lot of financial support for Shilo to live and train at a National Training Centre.

So, Shilo and her coaches have decided to stick with their game plan, which is to try to make the World Youth Biathlon Championship team again and peek at the time for Worlds and maybe qualify for the second tour for the SR IBU or Junior right after the World Championship races.

Shilo has started out strong this season, and hopefully can continue to do well.

Next year we will look for more sponsors, so she can attend more races and training camps if the opportunity arises.

Submitted by Cecilia Rousseau