Pandemic era brings unique training regimen for Mackenzie Turner

Mackenzie Turner

CANMORE, Alta. – Ice Lake biathlete Mackenzie Turner, who has been training in Canmore, Alberta, for several years, is adjusting to the pandemic sporting world with a focus on training as most events in her sport have fallen victim to COVID-19 restrictions.

“We had some races earlier on in the season just for world cup trials, and since then there hasn’t really been much,” Ms. Turner told The Expositor.

One team from her Canmore cohort went to Europe for the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Cup but they returned early because of the virus, she said.

Training practices have adapted to public health restrictions and the group had to register with public health officials at the start of the lockdown to get permission to use the shooting range.

The numbers of people who can train at the same time are much lower than before and all the athletes must maintain physical distancing between each other.

Much of the competitive training has consisted of time trials within individual teams because standard races are all outlawed. Travelling to other locations has stopped because of recommendations against inter-provincial movement.

The sport has not fully stopped, however. The world cup season is ongoing in locations across Europe and all athletes taking part have to remain isolated and complete regular COVID-19 tests.

All lower-tier events such as the junior IBU Cup (in which Ms. Turner competed last year) and the IBU junior open European championships are cancelled.

The cancellations have been hard on morale for a lot of the athletes.

“Just considering we’ve trained all through the summer and everything, and now we don’t really have a race season. It’s tough. But everyone is pretty positive and the coaches are pretty good at coming up with ideas of activities to do,” she said.

The lessening pressure has also helped the athletes focus less on achieving peak performance figures, instead allowing themselves to focus more on the activities they personally enjoy.

As for Ms. Turner’s prospects for the coming season, any predictions are difficult to make when considering the uncertainty that continues to loom during the pandemic. She still has hopes of making it to the national team for the following year but acknowledges that a lot can happen in a year—especially in the present time.

“It would be a lot of hard work to get up there. I feel like I could but we’ll just have to see what COVID does and just kind of go with that,” she said.