Scott Gow knows how to plan a mission to Mars.
Three years ago, he was selected to join NASA in Houston for a two-week space camp with 33 other students from around the globe. Based on his grades, volunteering and extra curricular activities, he was chosen as the Western Canada representative in the prestigious program.
“I was on the team that helped plan the logistics of how we can live on Mars,” Gow said. “We had to research what was needed. It was a change of pace.”
While the budding biathlete was more interested in medicine than space travel, it gave him a taste of the hard work required when representing his home province.
Gow will represent Alberta again next month, as the 20-year old biathlete was selected to carry his home province’s colours at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax, Feb. 11-27.
“It’s a huge honour. I was excited when I found out. Now I just have to make sure I race my race,” Gow said.
The young biathlete has done just that this season, posting excellent results in Europe and in Canada. Racing against world cup-calibre athletes, Gow posted a remarkable 15th and 50th result in IBU cup action. He coupled that with several first-place finishes at NorAm races in Canada, establishing himself as an athlete to watch at the upcoming games.
The quiet, serious racer is developing rapidly and hopes to make the Canadian senior development team. The difference this year, Gow says, is focus.
“I tried extra hard this year to treat every race as the most important. In the past, I would have treated them differently,” Gow said.
Much of biathlon centres on consistency, and Gow has improved his shooting considerably.
“I worked with coach Pierre Pepin over the summer and have seen some big improvements. I’ve been more consistent in my shooting,” Gow said.
He’s setting the bar high for the Canada Winter Games, however, he says the increased pressure does not bother him. After planning missions to Mars, how hard can skiing and shooting be?
“I feel my expectations would be to medal in every race. I’m the oldest in my category and seen as one of the favourites. It doesn’t bother me. I just have to focus on what I’m capable of,” Gow said.
Rocky Mountain Racers coach John Jacques has worked with Gow for the past six years. He said Gow has the mental and physical tools to succeed in the sport.
“He has the ski speed and his shooting is good. He’s made the commitment to work to go to Sochi, and he’s willing to go until then.”
Jacques says Gow has improved steadily during the past six years. He’s watched him medal at the world juniors in the past, and says he’s competitive with senior racers in Canada.
“He definitely hasn’t changed a lot. He’s quiet and hard working,” Jacques said.
Jacques demands hard work from his athletes and has created a situation conducive to producing top tier athletes. Six of the eight biathletes competing for Alberta are from the Rocky Mountain Racers.
“He’s the biggest reason I am where I am right now,” Gow said. “He makes us work hard. There are no easy breaks.”
On top of training to become one of the country’s top young biathletes, Gow is studying pre-med at the University of Calgary, and plans to become a doctor once his schooling and biathlon career is over. He hasn’t decided on a specialty, but right now, his ultimate goal is to earn a spot at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.
“The olympics are the ultimate for me… If I keep working at it and keep improving.”
There is a glut of young Canadian biathletes pushing for spots on the Canadian world cup team. Gow wants to qualify for a few world cup races next season
“I feel I have to train the best that I can, as much as I can, I put 100 per cent into my training, and always train as perfectly as possible,” Gow said. “Especially to catch those guys like Brendan (Green), J.P (Le Guellec) and Nathan (Smith), I have to make improvements.”
He also has his younger brother Christian pushing him on the biathlon track. Christian has also been selected to ski for Team Alberta.
“He’s catching up. He wanted to beat my ski times at the last NorAm in Canmore,” Gow said of his younger brother.
The hard work has required sacrifice, as many of his friends are finishing their third year of university while he’s still on his first. However, Gow doesn’t regret his decision to aim high. From planning colonies on Mars to passing pre-med classes to going stride for stride against the top biathletes in the country, Gow is happiest when he’s overcoming adversity.
“I like a challenge.”