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Pandemic might have been good for Beatty's off-season training

“Being a ski racer, being in Canmore for 10 weeks straight was the longest I’ve been in one place since I don’t know even know the last time, so it’s definitely been a different experience."
CANMORE – Canadian Olympian Dahria Beatty's off-season training didn't miss a stride due to the pandemic and she's prepared to roll with the punches from whatever comes her way.

The cross-country skiing sensation is entering the new season as the Canadian women’s best hope at making some noise in the FIS world cup sprint races and despite the year of unusual circumstances with major question marks around a return to competition, Beatty's training never dwindled with her sights set on bigger horizons.

"I was thinking towards the Olympics in 2022 and using that as a motivator to be excited for training and keeping a positive mindset in all aspects,” she said.

In the best case scenario, the 26-year-old from Whitehorse, who trains out of Canmore, will travel to Europe in late November to compete on the three-and-a-half month long world cup circuit and potentially world championships, too. An update on the world cup season from FIS is expected Friday (Oct. 9), and many are optimistic a European-only calendar will go forward similar to the International Biathlon Union world cup.

Like the incoming ski calendar adapting and being fine-tuned, Beatty’s off-season has been unique by all standards – especially for an accomplished athlete who’s had frequent flier miles since 15.

“Being a ski racer, being in Canmore for 10 weeks straight was the longest I’ve been in one place since I don’t know even know the last time, so it’s definitely been a different experience,” said Beatty. “I’m used to planning five week stints where I’m purposely in the same place just to have some normalcy and have a feeling of home.”

The downfalls of the pandemic meant not being able to visit with her family in the Yukon and an official training camp with her national team family was out of the question. However, in a “weird, but refreshing” way, things seem to work out for the athlete.

“It allowed for less forced rest days and more opportunity for quality training without the fatigue of travel,” said Beatty. “You wouldn’t want it to be the case year-after-year, but for this summer, it didn’t necessarily have a negative impact, it might have almost had a positive impact in some ways.”

An official training camp for the national team athletes didn’t go ahead, but Beatty put in work with a training pod consisting of Team Canada’s Catherine Stewart-Jones and with her club, Alberta World Cup Academy. Out in the public’s eye, the small group of fierce skiers were skating around the Bow Valley on roller skis, grinding up the hill to the Canmore Nordic Centre, or catching fast stride along the Legacy Trail.

“I still have had strong partners over the summer to train with and push me and I had access to coaching in Canmore, so I was lucky to be here because we have a pretty great set up for that without being able to travel for camps,” she said.

Before heading to Europe, Beatty will get in some final training on Frozen Thunder at the Canmore Nordic Centre, which is a two-kilometre loop made up of last year's snow, and is designed for early season training for high-performance athletes. It's an important month of skiing to fine tune things before the start of the season overseas.

Over the last two seasons on the world cup, Beatty has fought to be close, but just out of reach of the “lucky loser” spot of making a semifinals in sprint. It’s a major focus this season to make the semis, and then drive for a finals berth. She's also hopeful to help lift the Canadian women to the next level in team events.

“Process and result goals are what I’m striving towards,” she said. “And getting closer to that world cup podium and striving towards that goal is something I’m continuously working for.”

In the back of her mind, like all other competitors, is the uncertainty of COVID-19, but Beatty's been prepared to “roll with the punches" since the abrupt end of last season in March.

It's a reality all athletes are living with and Beatty said she’s taking a realist's approach to the unprecedented season, but for now, she’s grateful skiing is on the path for a triumphant return.


Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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