Photos: Steve Varieur and Angus Tweedie
Biathlete Natasia Varieur was a recipient of a Dara’s Fund grant to help her achieve her sport dreams and it looks like they are starting to come true. One of her goals is to represent her country in an international competition and this week she headed to Slovakia to represent Canada in the Youth World Championships, which begin January 26.
There were three qualifying races in Quebec at the beginning of January. Varieur’s results earned her a spot as one of the four females in her age category for Biathlon Canada’s Youth World Championships team.
“I was shocked when I got the email saying I was selected. I was so excited to be given this opportunity to represent my country internationally, and for all of my hard work to pay off,” says Varieur.
After graduating from Huntsville High School, Varieur moved to Whistler BC to join the Whistler Nordic Development Centre where she could focus on her training. “I knew I wanted to take my training to the next level, and this seemed like the logical step. The facilities I have access to at the Olympic Centre in Whistler are world class, and being able to train at such a high level has really improved my results in just a few months.”
She now trains full-time while attending university. “It is challenging to balance the two, but it is important to me to continue my education,” says Varieur.
This is Varieur’s fourth year racing Biathlon, a unique sport that consists of a racer competing for the shortest time in the combined disciplines of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. “I love the challenge of combining a precision discipline with a speed discipline. It’s very difficult to manage a biathlon race so that I have the fastest ski speed possible while still hitting the targets I need to hit. I find it really rewarding to feel everything come together on race day, and to know that I’ve performed my best.”
Varieur described what it is like to compete in such a unique sport: “For me, it’s a balance. I’m constantly trying to push as hard as possible during the ski loops without raising my heart rate to the point where my shooting falls apart.”
The most challenging thing for her to do is to recover from a “rough shooting bout” and to then finish the race strong. “It’s a very tough sport physically and mentally, and you have to be able to push through pain and disappointment,” says Varieur.
She has seen the podium several times with top finishes at both the Provincial and North American Cup races but is just overjoyed with the opportunity to be a part of the World Championships. “This is my first time representing Canada overseas, so I am just enjoying the experience and trying to have some personal best races both on the range and on the trail. I love representing my country, and I want to continue doing this in the future.”
The Youth and Junior World Championships are being held in Osrblie, Slovakia from January 26 to February 3.
Good luck, Natasia!
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