Ice Lake biathlete off to Canada finals, part of Team Ontario

Mackenzie Turner of Ice Lake fires her rifle at a competition in Valcartier, Quebec.

15-year-old Mackenzie Turner found her sport on television

ICE LAKE—Fifteen-year-old biathlete Mackenzie Turner of Ice Lake, who was recently selected to join Team Ontario, will be representing the province next week at the Canadian National Biathlon Championships in Charlo, New Brunswick.

“I’m really excited,” said Mackenzie of the upcoming competition. “I love sport—it’s a lot of fun.”

The Manitoulin Secondary School student with a positive attitude first got involved in the sport after seeing it on television four years ago.

“I saw it on TV and thought it looked really cool,” Mackenzie shared with The Expositor. “I grew up around guns and liked shooting and I didn’t think skiing would be too hard.”

Mackenzie said her parents were surprised with her new interest, but supportive.

“I had done normal things growing up like running and ballet so they thought my interest in becoming a biathlete was unusual, but when I did some research and found the Walden Biathlon Club, they took me in,” explained Mackenzie. “The skiing turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. During the (skiing) warm up I fell over. After about an hour the coach asked me about my shooting and after I hit every target he said he had to get me skiing.”

After a year of training Mackenzie said she saw a huge improvement in her skiing and began to excel at the sport.

“My coach said I had improved so much that he wanted me to work towards the Ontario Winter Games,” Mackenzie said. “I worked on training for another year and moved up to a .22 caliber rifle.”

During a training camp in Canmore, Alberta last November, Mackenzie began training with her new coach Tim Hurley (Biathlon Ontario vice president).

“He (Mr. Hurley) is from Ottawa so we do a lot of our training online,” explained Mackenzie. “He emails me training exercises and goes with me to competitions.”

Mackenzie trains six days a week at home for one-and-a-half to two hours.

“My dad makes trails for me around our farm so I have my own course,” said Mackenzie. “I also do a lot of cardio and strength work daily and do live or dry rounds (shooting).”

A challenge for the Grade 10 student has been trying to balance her training and schoolwork, but she said that her MSS teachers have been very helpful.

“It’s definitely hard to balance training, schoolwork and friends,” said Mackenzie, “but my teachers have been really great working with me.”

When she isn’t training or studying, Mackenzie said she likes to relax, hang out with friends and enjoy the outdoors.

When asked if she would one day like to compete in the Winter Olympics, she quipped, “I think that’s every 15-year-old athlete’s dream.”

Mackenzie will be representing Ontario at the Canadian National Biathlon Championships in Charlo, New Brunswick on Tuesday, March 11 to Sunday, March 16.

Robin Burridge