Island biathlete selected for Canada Winter Games

Mackenzie Turner practices her shot for the upcoming Winter Games.

PRINCE GEORGE, BC––Sixteen-year-old biathlete Mackenzie Turner of Ice Lake will be travelling with Team Ontario to compete in the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George British Columbia next month.

“I’m leaving tomorrow for Ottawa to train with Team Ontario for the games,” Mackenzie told The Expositor this past Sunday. “Then I have a race in Quebec before I fly out for the games, which start on February 13.”

Mackenzie said she learned that she would be competing at the Canada Winter Games in December 2014 after a series of races with Team Ontario in Canmore, Alberta.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she shared. “I was so excited that I had a spot on the team. There are eight biathletes on Team Ontario. After nationals last March I was selected for the team and then Canmore was my first race with them. It’s pretty cool.”

Mackenzie explained that her biathlon team is made up of a “great group of individuals” and that she has become good friends with a few of the girls.

In preparation for the games, Mackenzie said she has been training to carry her rifle, something completely new to her.

“Up till now I’ve been competing in the Senior Girl’s division, which is 15 to 16-year-olds, but at the Winter Games I will be competing as an ‘under age’ against girls in the Youth Division, 17-18, and possibly Jr. Women, 20-21,” said Mackenzie. “Up to Senior Girls you don’t carry your rifle with you, but in the Youth Division and above you have to. I’ve been training here (in Ice Lake), carrying my rifle. I’ve definitely noticed a difference on the hills—there’s more weight, so it’s more challenging.”

Getting ready for the Winter Games, Mackenzie said she has been doing lots of intense training, shooting with a higher heart rate and pushing herself to her limits.

“I will continue to train hard until a week before, and then I will take it easy and rest my muscles,” Mackenzie said.

“I’m really excited about the games,” she concluded. “I’m sure I’ll get nervous closer too, but right now I just can’t wait. It’s going to be a great experience—the best ever. I’m looking forward to everything—the opening ceremonies, venues, sports and Canadian music concerts. It should be really cool. So much to see, do, learn—it’s going to be awesome.”

Mackenzie will join 2,400 athletes, 1,000 coaches and officials and up to 4,500 volunteers in addition to hundreds of media and thousands of spectators at the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George from February 13 to March 1.

The Manitoulin Secondary School student first became interested in the sport a few years ago after seeing it on television. From there, she found the Walden Biathlon Club and began taking lessons. Growing up around guns, Mackenzie was already a strong shooter, but her club coach helped her develop into a strong skier, eventually earning her a spot on Team Ontario and a ticket to the Nationals earlier last year.