Shilo to Represent Canada at World University Games

Shilo does roller ski training and competitions in the off season.
Shilo does roller ski training and competitions in the off season.

Who would have thought a girl from such a small town like Thessalon Ontario could have gone this far in the sport of Biathlon. Here is a little insight about Biathlon; it is a very challenging sport because of the combination of two contradictory disciplines: skiing and shooting.

During a race the athlete’s heart beats at roughly 90% of its maximum rate. It’s an all-out sprint like any other race, but when you’re done, you must switch gears and fire steady shots at 5 targets (could be prone or standing depending on where you are in the race)/ Imagine doing this up to four times in one given race!

During a race there is a minimum of two shooting bouts and a maximum of four shooting bouts, depending on the race. The athlete’s blood moves so fast through their veins, they actually see the affects as they are watching the target come in and out of their rifle sights when they prepare to shoot.

An example Biathletes give people is, “It’s like running up a flight of stairs as fast as you can and then trying to thread a needle”. But it’s actually harder than that, because any normal person would take a moment or two to catch their breath before they hold a super sharp object. Biathlon competitors don’t get that luxury.

The best athletes in the world are shooting a 5 shot round with 20 seconds, so these athletes spend a lot of time training to shoot at a fairly high heart rate. The few studies done on biathletes suggest that athletes drop their heart rates to about 60 to 70 percent of their max to shoot a round of 5 shots, versus the 90 percent heart rate during the race. Most normal exercise happens in the 70-85 percent range, for reference. A Biathlete’s heart rates drop less when shooting upright, as opposed to lying on their stomach, but that’s still a significant drop considering it happens in less then a minute. They’re actively slowing down their own pulse through breathing and concentrating, not just letting their heart slow on its own.

Now imagine a girl (Shilo) from our very own small town of Thessalon, Ontario cross country skiing for 4 kilometers, then with her heart pounding, legs shaking, and fingers chilled from the cold weather, shooting five targets at 50 meters with exactly five shots (hoping to hit all 5 or endure a penalty for missed shots). Then putting her rifle (which weighs about 10 pounds) back on her back and heading out to ski another 4 kilometers and do it all again 5 times during one given race day.

Shilo puts in numerous hours of training for this sport, while also attending University to study biology. No real time for socializing outside of her athletic group of friends while they train. This is the road she has chosen and loves. Many may think this is crazy, but this is what it’s like for athletes who have a dream of just maybe making the Olympics for Team Canada while also representing girls and boys from small towns with big dreams.

None of this goes without saying that the people and businesses around this area have help her make it this far and are a big contributing factor to her success. Shilo could not thank them enough for all there help along the way!

Doing this strange combination of grueling endurance race and marksmanship competition has led to Shilo being offered a spot on the World University Games as a biathlon team member. Only 8 team members, 4 women and 4 men, across Canada and Thessalon Ontario manage to put one of their very own on the team.

Biathlon Canada is excited to nominate the FISU Team – who will compete at the World Universiade this January 2021 in Lenzerheide/Lucerne, Switzerland.

The 30th Winter Universiade will take place in the city of Lucerne/Lenzerheide, Switzerland which is a city in central Switzerland, embedded within an impressive mountainous panorama with Rihi, Pilatus and Titlis. Situated in the German-speaking portion of the country Lucerne is the most populous town in central Switzerland with a population of approximately 82,000 people.

The 2021 Winter Universiade is scheduled from January 21-31, 2021. The Universiade is held every two years in different cities around the world. It is one of the largest winter multisport events worldwide, second only in size to the Olympic Games. The Games will take place over 11 days and will host 1600 athletes from more than 50 countries competing in 10 sports in 7 venues.

Even though we are not sure if this event will happen due to Covid 19,  Shilo and all her family is extremely happy and excited that she has made the team and just might have the opportunity to attend these games. We are all keeping our fingers crossed.

Who would have thought a girl from our small town of Thessalon could have made it!

Congratulations Student Athletes!

Article and photo submitted by Cecilia Rousseau