Thursday, December 19, 2013

Le Grand Bornand, France and beyond!

It was such a nice experience racing in Le Grand Bornand. I had never spent any time in France, and I feel awful to say I had always heard French people were not very friendly but it was completely the opposite: Everyone said 'bonjour' on the street, helped you out with directions, and were the friendliest people around. It was also fantastic weather, great snow conditions, and an absolutely gorgeous area, making the week in Le Grand Bornand perfect.

Mum, Dad and I drove, after a morning exploring castles in Brescia, Italy to Le Grand Bornand. It was such a delight to find our apartment was situated just across the road from the racing track. Since New Zealand does not have enough athletes for the relay, my first race was on the Saturday, giving me 4 days to train, prepare and explore. We had a hilarious trip to Geneva one afternoon where the GPS took us into the city on the truck route, finally parked, and then payed 40 swiss francs for 3 coffees and 3 scones at a very posh hotel right on Lake Geneva, finishing off the trip by getting lost in the middle of the city in the car during rush hour, and driving back to Le Grand Bornand. But it was nice to see Geneva and some of the country side, which usually is not possible due to the racing schedule.

I was bib number 72 for the sprint race on Saturday, with Adele Walker from the Great Britain team starting bib 74, 1 minute behind me. In this race the minimum I had to do was make 15% behind the leaders to keep my place on the World Cup circuit. I had a very strange feeling going into this race as it could mean the end of my career. I started the race with Mum and Dad cheering from the sidelines, and told myself whatever happens, happens. Mum had been asking me a few days earlier that, if I don't make my qualification, what will I do? Maybe I should come home and get a job. I couldn't quite wrap my head around ending my career in the middle of the season, retiring from biathlon so suddenly, and going straight into the working world...but what else could I do? I cannot afford to race IBU cups as the start money does not cover the cost of accommodation, and if I don't make 15%, I cannot start on World Cups. The answer balanced completely on my performance in this race.

I came in for prone shooting, and missed 3 targets out of 5. There was no wind, and no reason for this to have happened (at the end of the race, my dad told me all my shots were to the right of the target), bringing it down to me and my positioning. After three times around the 150m loop, I went out with fear and adrenaline cursing through my body. "This is the end. I have never made 15% with three misses out of 10, and I still have standing shooting to go". At that moment, I had nothing to lose but to put my head down and give it my all. And at that same moment, I finally felt like I was racing. I felt the love for the sport that I had not been feeling in my last races. The summers disasters and stresses, the hours I had put in, and the unconditional work and support my family and friends had put in for me to be here all bundled together as I went into my second loop.

I came into standing shooting almost, but not quite, thinking my dream and career was over. Lane 22 stared at me, so I scooted in there thinking "I turned 22 at the last Olympics. Maybe it's a good omen". And it was - I hit all 5 targets and had the 3rd fastest standing shooting time. The urgency to get out of the range and onto the track was so intense it was on the border to frantic. At this moment I realized I am passionate about biathlon, and I am not ready to end my career just yet. The importance of that 15% became so apparent at that moment that is kicked me into a gear I had not felt in a long time.

Upon finishing, we had no idea if I had made the 15%, but mum and dad, despite the 3 misses, agreed that there was a difference in this race. I looked like an athlete out there. Not that I didn't before, but there was something different about the intensity of my race. A few minutes later, it was confirmed that I had made the 15% re-qualification (13.5%), and that my career in biathlon was not quite over. The relief that flooded over me at that moment, and to have my parents there with me, is a moment I will never forget.

Now remember, I did not make anything spectacular. I made the necessary 15% that every athlete must make to be on the World Cup. But with no financial support from New Zealand, no coach and no wax tech, asking Swix to prepare my skis the day before the race, and always struggling to get around Europe- I am proud of this result. I am not embarrassed to say I am not the fastest or the strongest, but I am still able to qualify and re qualify for the World Cup circuit, which I guess is a feat of it's own. As I am not winning races, I need to recognize the, albeit small, but important successes in my career.

Before the race, IBU television asked me about my Olympic qualification, my chances and how I was feeling about it. (As you all know, New Zealand has set the biathlon Olympic qualification much harder than the IOC- I must achieve 50% of the field three times in the world cup before Christmas, where the normal Olympic qualification is 2 times 20% in an IBU cup before the Olympic Games). I had difficulty responding to the question from IBU television as I had not made the Olympic qualification and this was my last race before Christmas, meaning I  would not be competing at the 2014 Olympics. Now that I have qualified for the next three world cups though, Biathlon New Zealand has approached the NZOC to ask for an extension in the qualification period, which would give me three more chances for Sochi.

Now that I am going to be in Europe for the next set of races, I decided to stay in Europe for Christmas. Not only could I not afford to get a return flight to Canada, but I often get sick when traveling, and a Christmas in Italy sounded quite enticing! I flew to London for 2 days, where I walked for 8 hours through the city, ate from vendors, and was trampled by the immense crowds of Christmas shoppers. The city is just amazing anyway, but at Christmas with the lights, it is just stunning. I flew into Pisa yesterday, and am now back at my base in Frassinoro, Italy- near Modena. This weekend I will be racing a Cross country Europa Cup in Valle d'aosta, just to keep the body moving.

Merry Christmas everyone, and Happy New Year! I might need to call on some of you to roll me from Italy to Germany as I will have eaten so much delicious Italian Christmas Food! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

World Cup 2 and 3

The Murphy gang was reunited on Thursday lunch time after 7 months apart! The Parental unit arrived after 2 days traveling and were there to help me with the heap of development gear from the IBU for Biathlon New Zealand, which I desperately needed! Mum and Dad to the rescue :)

The next day was the 7.5km sprint. It was great to arrive on the range and have my dad there all ready with the scope to zero me for the race (along with Ginge from the GBR team!), and my mum in the start area, guarding my rifle and even giving my leggies a little rub before the start! It was so funny. It was snowing in Hochfilzen for the women's race, with a little wind, but nothing crazy. I missed 1 in prone and 2 in standing, finishing 3 mins 40 seconds behind and 15.7%. For me to re qualify for the World Cup, I need to get 15% - behind, so I missed the qualification by 7 seconds- Dang! It was also great to have an Italian friend, Ilario, to help me test my skis, and Brikko Maplus for waxing my skis for the race! THANKS GUYS!

On Saturday night, we attended the IBU awards night and 20 year reunion dinner with the British team. It was great to meet up with all the coaches and team leaders, and the food was great. To end the evening off, Dad had the great idea to do a conga out of the VIP tent, so keep your eyes open for 3 crazy Murphy's doing the conga line out!

On Sunday at 5 am, the Murphy's found themselves in the rented car, packed to the rafters with gear, and heading to Seefeld, Austria for me to race a 5km skate FIS race. We arrived one hour before the start, so it was perfect timing to warm up, get my bib, and chat with the Hungarian team who THANKFULLY waxed my skis for me! THANKS HUNGARY- The skis were rockets! I finished the race in 49th out of 116 women, 1 min 27 seconds behind, and 124 FIS points. Considering the lack of sleep, no breakfast, and no ski testing, I was very happy with the race, and it felt good to be moving and grooving again! After a coffee on the deck of a cafe while watching the women's Pursuit race, we jumped in the car drove to Brescia, Italy where we spent the night and explored castles in the morning! Very cool, and nice to be running in the streets of Italy with my mum.

After a hilarious drive through Italy with dad as driver and mum as navigator, we found our way to the Mont Blanche tunnel, through Annecy, and to Le Grand Bornand, France. We have a wonderful apartment, which is located 300m from the stadium and trails, and fell right into the wonderful french lifestyle- The first morning I saw 3 men with baguettes...just saying :)

This week has been filled with training with dad on the range, skiing with mum around the loop, exploring new towns, and a $50 coffee in the Hotel Angleterre in Geneva.

Today the Canadian women placed 4th in the relay, which was very exciting, being half Canadian- CONGRATULATIONS! The next race for me is on Saturday at 10:30am, which is the sprint race. It is so beautiful here that I think everyone is so happy no matter what happens with the results!!!

After these races, I have no idea what I am doing! I am not sure if I am going to Canada for Christmas, or staying in Europe. I think I will make the decision after the weekend :)

Take care, have fun and smile!

Sarah





Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Idre IBU cup and Ostersund World Cup!

After my glorious Moose hunt in the middle of nowhere of Scandinavia, I jumped in the car with the nicest person in the world, Niclas from Normark, and drove 5 hours North to Idre, where I met up with the Polish team and Federico. For 14 days we trained on a 400m loop, which after 10 days was extended to 1km, to prepare for the first set of IBU cup races happening in Idre. What was great is we had a cute little cabin, which was probably twice as big and 10 times warmer than the shack we had in New Zealand, so I cooked for myself and baked for the Polish massage therapist and wax techs as payment for helping me out. Not the same as money, but a lot more nutritious and made with love :)

The first race in Idre could not have had better conditions. -5, a nice breeze, and perfect tracks. The first race, out of 109 woman, I was lucky starter number 1! Wahoooo! I do not usually get  nervous, but I will not lie that I was a bit frantic with bib number 1 in the first race of the season. After zeroing with the British team (Thanks guys- I owe you some baking!), and warming up, I headed to the start gate and before I knew it, was out on the course. Yeeeehaaawwww! I came in for my first prone- 4 hits! Yesssss! I was pretty tired though and could definitely feel the weeks training load leading into these races in my legs. Next was standing and I hit 5/5! Out on the course for the last loop and then into the finish. I made the 15% and qualified for the world cup- great :)

The next day was very windy, making it a bit more of a challenge for us biathletes out there shooting. I was told I had very bad luck by some of the coaches, missing 3 in Prone and 4 in standing. It was a rough one, but I had felt a bit better on my skis, so I saw it as a positive step in the right direction....wrong!

The next day we drove 4 hours to Ostersund! I love Ostersund- its a city filled with cafes and shops and things to do. While I am in Ostersund I live with my friend, Pekka, who has a house very close to the stadium, so it is perfect. Ostersund was quite ridiculous- 2 races were cancelled, and 1 postponed. It was a little frustrating as for the 15km Individual, it was supposed to be on the Wednesday, but 1 minute before the start they decided to postpone it because of the crazy weather. In the end, maybe a good thing, but still frustrating as all the skis were prepped, zeroing of the rifles was finished, and everyone was warmed up! All well, the next day we were all out there again, getting ready for the race. I arrived at the range to zero one hour before the start and asked the Netherlands coach if she wouldn't mind zeroing me- she said it was no problem, which saved my life!  I was starter 74, so by the time I started, some girls were almost finished. The 3 km loop is a nice one- I quite like it-and the conditions were okay considering the lack of snow! I had some focusing problems in my standing, but I was very happy with my prone, hitting 10/10, but missing 6/10 in the standing.

The next day, we were out there once again to race the sprint. It was very windy and very difficult conditions. I was starter 53, which was really nice to be in the middle of the group. As soon as I started, I felt great. My skis were made perfectly (thanks BRIKO MAPLUS wax!) and felt so fast on the course. Coming in for my first prone, and it was very windy. It is difficult for the small nations as we shoot our rifles in at the other end of the range to where we shoot in the races, and the range in Ostersund is especially tricky as the wind goes a different direction from one end to the other. I came in for prone, and corrected my sights for the wind change- in the end, that was not necessary. I ended up over correcting and all my shots were in the same spot to the right of the target. In the end I missed 7/10/ It was very frustrating as I felt like I was finally racing!

I did not qualify in the top 60 for the pursuit, meaning I had 2 days until flying to Austria. I was thrilled to have 2 of my Swedish sponsors at the races- Norma ammunition and 42Store. We went for a great dinner all together on Saturday, and 42Store surprised me with a new computer! Now I actually have a working computer to update my blog! Yahooo!

I am now in Hochfilzen, Austria. The first race is on Friday with the 7.5km sprint. Everyone please cross your fingers that my Mum and Dad will make it here from Canada on time!!!!!!

Take care, have fun and smile! Thank you for all your love and support,

Sarah

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Norma moose hunt

Hello from dark, but lovely, Sweden!

As my computer is broken, this will be a short update.

2 weeks ago I was lucky to be invited to Norma ammunitions annual moose hunt! Now, I have never been hunting before, but it was a great opportunity to see my sponsor, test my new rifle, and have a new adventure! And it sure was an adventure. I was decked out in hunting gear; orange and green camouflage, and warm hats galore, and sent out into the forests of Sweden and Norway to try and get us some dinner! I honestly think someone could make a movie out of the hilarity of it all. Picture this:

A 25 year old blonde woman, with 14 Viking-type men clad with powerful rifles and knives, head out to the wilderness. The lady, never having been hunting, gets out of the vehicle and forgets to connect her earphones to her radio, causing a right noise and probably frightening all the moose away already. Fiddling with the buckles and straps from her rifle and backpack, she stumbles through the woods to their post, where she is teamed up with her main sponsor. Too hot from the walk, she proceeds to take her covered-in-velcro-strapped jacket off, now causing the rest of the animals to probably run further away. "What a serene spot" she though to herself, pulling out her camera to catch a memory of her first moose hunt. Thinking she was clever and turning of the sound, the then noise of the photo being taken not only did she scare herself, her partner, but probably the moose in China. And it wasn't even a good picture.

Noticing her hunting stool, she proceeds to unbuckle the clips on her backpack and extend the legs, clicking them into place, and then finally settling down into probably the loudest fallen leaves on planet earth. Her partner, having arrived and sat down in one smooth motion, pretending not to notice a thing, reaches over to pour himself some coffee from his thermos. "Great idea!", as the lady reaches over for her hot chocolate. Damn- not pre- made. After unzipping the backpack, rustling through and finding the hot chocolate packages, and then attempting to rip them open with mittened hands, she finally gets them open. Have you ever noticed how loud it is to open a thermos? No, I hadn't either, until that moment, and it I sounded like 30 church bells were ringing through the forest. Finally I had the hot chocolate made (very weak- needed another package, but I resisted), and settled in to watch for moose.

Checking my watch, that was the longest 10 minutes of my life.

In the end, I did not shoot anything except some paper turkeys. I did however, see 2 moose, but was unable to shoot them. They are such beautiful and gracious animals, so I was very happy just watching them in all their gloriousness. We were staying at the Norwegian race car driver, Petter Solbergs, lodge, which was absolutely amazing. There was a sauna beside a lake, so I may have just had to jump into the lake between saunas...get that circulation circulating! The rest of the team shot 5 moose in the end, so everyone was happy in the end!

Thank you to Norma, Jaktia and Normark for making this moose hunt the best first hunting experience I think anyone could have. I left Petter Solbergs lodge with new friends, and unforgettable, lifelong memories!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

SB Global Logistics

Sometimes you meet people and businesses who put your faith back in humanity- SB Logistics is a company that seriously helped me out when I really needed it. Amazing staff and an amazing service-  Our bags almost beat us to Italy even though they left 4 days later. Huge thank you to them for supporting Kiwi athletes and teams traveling around the world! It's not easy, but these guys made it much less stressful both mentally and financially! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Way too long, and too much fun!

Now, it has been way too long since my last real update, so please accept my apology and read on! (I also ask your forgiveness as my computer has kacked it and I am writing this on my ipadmini.)

Almost 2 1/2 months ago, my coach Federico and I set off on the train from Modena to Wellington, New Zealand, with 100kg of baggage and a boat load of hopes and dreams. Our first challenge came the minute we stepped up to the check-in desk at the fly emirates counter. It went a little bit like this 'that will be 45€/kg over. Total overweight charge of 1350€.' Said the checkin devil-woman. 'Oh, but there must be a mistake as I called emirates yesterday to confirm we would not be charged and to put a note on our booking' I managed to stutter out. 'There is nothing in our system. You can either pay or not fly.' The she-devil replied. No words could express the noices I made next as I started to cry, but it may of been something like 'uuuuuhhhhhhh bahhhhhhhhhh hooooooowwwwwwwwwwww...thaaaaaats ou..ou..our....winter savings!' Well,they didn't care. I then proceeded to cry for 3 hours. Needless to say, not a great start to the trip. 

50 hours later we had arrived in NZ- disheveled and distraught- but alive. After 2 great days with my sponsor, the New Zealand ammunition company (www.nzammo.co.nz) where I got to pick up my new ammunition from Norma (www.norma.cc), and 3 days of family catch up time, Federico and I then drove down the west coast of the South Island, Queenstown bound.

We had originally planned to spend the first 2 weeks living at the snow farm lodge to get in a good bunch of training and to have time to find a place to live. Our first week was great- great training sessions and amazing food- until I got the bill from our stay and was informed I would be getting zero funding from Biathlon New Zealand, all in one day. At that moment we realized a) we had no money to pay the bill b) we had no money for the car or the accommodation we had hoped for and c) we had no money, period. This then resulted in us leaving that day, and me washing dishes to pay off some of the bill. I thought that only happened in movies- nope, real life.

Not a problem , though- Chuck Berry to the rescue (not that chuck berry. A base-jumping, crazy, cool kiwi guy, Chuck Berry! Check him out: www.chuckberry.co.nz). We ended up moving into the shack on eastbourne station, a farm located between Wanaka and Queenstown; Hot running water, indoor toilet, and a hot fire: life was good! And at $280 nzd/ month for the both of us, it was the right price!

The only problem now is we were living in the middle of nowhere, and had no car. Chucky, neighbour extraordinaire let us borrow his car many times, which saved our lives, but most of the time for the first month we would walk 1 1/2km up the farm road to the main crown range road, and then hitchhike from there. We were normally picked up withing 20 minutes, and then would be dropped off at the bottom of the snowfarm road, where we would then hitchhike from there up the mountain to training. That was the tricky part as there were not many people going up- but we made it every time. The worst day was when it took us 2hours to get there. That was a tough training day, that one! But hitching is amazing- you meet so many amazing people and get to hear amazing stories of their lives and their adventures, and vice-versa. We really appreciated the kindness of everyone who picked us up, so when we finally were able to borrow a car, we picked up every hitchhiker we saw. 

The training went really well in New Zealand even with the lack of vehicle situation. Thanks to the Queenstown Gym (www.queenstowngym.co.nz) for the membership sponsorship, we were able to go down and spend a few hours there pumpin the iron, getting strong like Arnie (and by pumpin the iron I mean getting into machines and moving my hands and feet around how I think they should go 'excuse me mam, please get out of the painters scaffolding' came to mind- http://youtu.be/_ja6QxAQCtA). 


In the middle of August the New Zealand 100% pure Audi Quattro winter games started. It's an amazing event that brings in a lot of top international competitors from many sports- downhill, xc, snowboarding, free skiing, half pipe, curling. There is no biathlon yet, but the cross country categories were packed with Olympic gold medalists (Anastasia Kuzmina, Justyna kowalzcyk, Japanese world cup team, Andy Newal, Brian Mckeever, Erick Carleton, Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, alexei petukov, kriukov, just to name a few of the athletes). It was great racing for me against such great competitors. I raced all the races possible; 10km classic, 5km skate and the sprint events. I placed 6th in the classic race, 6th in the skate race, and 7th in the sprint. The most important race was the 5km skate as biathlon New Zealand and some nzoc officials were there to see where my racing was at. In the end, I was 1' 30" beings Justyna, and 47" behind Anastasia,which was a significant improvement from the last winter games. In the sprint race in 2011 against kowalzcyk, I was 1 minute behind over a 1.6 km course, and this year on the same course I was 23" behind. Everyone was very excited, which was great. 
After the winter games, Federico and I both raced in our first loppet- the merino muster! 42 km in very deep, wet tough snow conditions, and a start time that was pushed back to 12:30 due to heavy fog. We were told by an amazing loppet athlete, kamila borutova, that this was a tough loppet to be our first. Beginners luck, but I had a great race and ended up in the middle of the podium behind Justyna kowalzcyk (who beat all the men but one) and Kamila Borutova (massage therapist and amazing athlete/human - www.wildflowercanmore.com). Federico, who waxed my skis which were amazing, did not have time to eat really anything before the race and as we say it in the ski world, bonked. But he finished nonetheless, even with a shoulder injury. Yahoo! 

Through all of this racing and such, we had been hitch hiking up and down everyday, although we were fortunate to stay at the deserted snow park for some nights before the races to save us the travel. That was really a treat. At this time, our story had gotten out of our bad luck and money situation, which resulted in us receiving the most wonderful care packages from some of the most wonderful people: Jean and Rolly brought us steaks and eggs and tomatoes (tomatoes are considered gold in New Zealand because of their price), Jan Wood brought us delicious bread and necessities, and Ben Green brought a box of everything, including cheese! We were so overwhelmed with gratitude and love for these amazing people. We also started to receive small donations from different club members, including from my snow fairy godmothers. Vicky Wills and Jo and JP opened their homes and hearts to us when the shack became a little much! There was just so much love and thanks going around, it was wonderful :)

After the racing finished, we had then been training 5weeks without a break- needless to say I was shattered! An amazing lady and club member, Kathy and her husband David, opened their home to us and gave us the use if their truck while they were away in America. This opened a whole new world for us- a car! And a warm house for a week! Luxury! We spent 5days out in Te Anau, exploring the area and showing Federico another part of New Zealand. It was just what I needed to regenerize!

I also went up to Wellington for 2 days to pick up my new rifle thanks to the New Zealand ammunition company and Norma ammunition in Sweden! These two sponsor have helped in more ways than they know- ammunition and rifle, yes, but also taking off a load of stress and really helping to give the feeling that people are behind me on this journey to qualify for the Olympics. The new barrel and system is wonderful, so a big thank you to Norma and Paul and Jenny and all th staff at NZ ammunition company!(www.nzammo.co.nz)

After that, life was smooth sailing! We had a car, the snow was amazing, the training was perfect, and the weather was great! I had a days work bungee jumping for discovery channel, which was very cool, and Federico shot 2 rabbits for dinner! The end of the trip really picked up, which I think we needed, after the struggle at the beginning.

After 9 weeks, it was time to begin the journey back to Italy. First stop was Christchurch, where we met up with a new sponsor who actually saved our lives and sanity. SB Global Logistics, a NZ company out of Christchurch, offered to ship our overweight luggage too italy for us. FOR FREE!!!!! These guys just made my year, and the thanks I have is overwhelming! Check them out for all your shipping, especially athletes, as airlines are not the nicest. Www.sbinfo.co.nz


As we didn't have a lot of money to fly to Wellington, we found this awesome company to relocate cars. So, we relocated one to chch, and then picked up another one and drove to picton- we felt pretty poch in our prados. It also served perfect as a hotel, so really a win situation overall. 

After a lovely, bumpy ferry ride and a delicious dinner of risotto with my cousins, we made it to the airport at 4:30am for our flight to Sydney, Australia, then Dubai, then Milan. 50 hours later we made it back to frassinoro (after, of course, a stop at a cafe for a real espresso for Federico). We are still recovering from such a long travel, but the weather has been amazing, the 3 puppies are huge now, and life is really good. :)


It was a crazy winter, but we lived through it, and had some amazing and crazy experiences we will never forget. The love and support from the cross- country community was amazing- there is I way to express our gratitude. I hope I will race well this season as a sort of thank you to everyone for their generosity and kindness.

Much love to all and I hope to update you all soon on coming events send schedule for the season!

Sarah

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

NEW SPONSORS!

Once again, a long gap between blogs, but that seems to be turning into an unfortunate trend. Right now I just want to say a big big thank you to all my supporters! Today I met my new baby- a new Anschutz system thanks to NORMA and the New Zealand Ammunition Company! After last years disaster with the rifle, they teamed up to help me have the best chance of getting to Sochi!

Norma
www.norma.cc

New Zealand Ammunition Company
www.nzammo.co.nz


And to make my rifle all come together and to also help me on the road to Sochi, I am now apart of 'Team Out There! Their support has gone towards the new stock to go along with the new system! Pumped to be apart of the team!!! Check their Facebook page out: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Team-Out-There-Biathlon-Nordic

Not only that, but to keep me fit and strong this winter, the Queenstown Gym has once again opened their hearts and doors to allow me to get in the best possible strength workouts! Thanks guys- Not  am literally pumped up!!!
Queenstown Gym
www.queenstowngym.co.nz

These are all new sponsors, but we cannot forget the others as well: Atex, The Lodges Banff, IMSO ceramice, The blueberry spa in Italy, Devonian Properties, Lifeworks gym (Canmore), ALL the contributors on my Plumfund page, Snow Farm NZ, The New Zealand 100% pure Manuka honey.






A real update on this ridiculous life of mine will come soon!!!!! 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Italy so far

So far Italy has been absolutely amazing!

The first week here, We spent a week training in Frassinoro, 2 hours from Pisa, to get over the jetlag and plan for the coming weeks. During the first week I did a few 20km uphill rollerskis, causing large blisters on my feet from such warm weather and my feet heating to thousands of degrees. We enjoyed some beautiful runs on the local mountain bike trails, and succeeded in breaking a mountain bike in another training. We went to the gym to pump some iron, and it was great to get into a good program, monitored by the same coach every session so progress and digressions can be noted and weaknesses can be built upon.

After a week in Frassinoro, and the welcoming of 4 new puppies into the Fontana family, my coach and I packed up the trusty automobile and headed for the Dolomites. Everything went smoothly, and upon arrival we were given the keys to a beautiful apartment in the centre of Sappada. Sappada is situated right in the Dolomites, and is about a 10 minute drive to the biathlon centre in Forni Avoltri. It was gorgeous.

The first day I rollerskied on the rollerski track of death (as it was raining hard and the track was slick), and then drove to Anterselva, where we have a World Cup in the winter. We met with Rudi Bachmann of Banchmann stocks and spent an hour fitting me with a new carbon fibre stock. 3 days and 6 workout s later, we were back picking up my new first born child (not really, but at this moment in my life- it sure feels like it!). What a beauty- I opted for black as it is one of New Zealands colours, and if I decide to join the mafia, I'll look badass with my black carbon fibre .22 slung on my back. (The latter is the main reason).

My first loooong workout of the training camp was a hike/run which we did at Tre Cime in the Dolomites. It is a World Heritage UNESCO area, meaning it is beautifullly preserved, but also meaning they charge you 22 euros to drive your car 6 km. We opted to park at the gates and run up to the bottom of the Tre Cime, and then do the circuit around the 3 glorious peaks. It was beautiful. We got rained on, were thigh deep in snow, we even heard people calling us 'sky runners' behind our backs. I felt very fit, until my foot cracked through the snow and I spread eagled down the rest of the track. Glorious as ever Murphy style. Arriving back at the car was a happy moment, and the reward of a radler at the end was great. I was ready for a day off but no...
Tre Cime

The next we went for a 5 hour road bike on a part of the Giro D'italia. The mountain portion, of course. We started with a great 45 minute downhill- I was thinking "Man I feel good". And then we started the uphill...and 2 1/2 hours later we made it to the top. What an uphill- It was beautiful and flat, but it was
also 30 km. We ran into some fellow road cyclists, and there is something in the athletes brain that goes "you have to beat them up this hill". Why? Why does this happen? Anyways, let's just say not all parts of the day were in zone 1. 5 hours later and 100km later we made it home to Sappada. It was a gorgeous day, and although I enjoyed it immensely, I was happy to have that uphill behind me.

Alex, the gym owner. What a beast! 

Monday was combo. Tuesday was combo in the am, and strength in the pm. Strength was great. The man who owns the gym is ginormous. I am not even exagerating. You could fit 12 of my arms in one of his pinky fingers. Ridiculous! The great thing about it was Pietro Piller Cottrer came to the gym with us to see the program and give some tips. If you don't know Pietro, he is the nicest man who recently retired from racing after winning a few Olympic golds and silvers, as well as being the youngest athlete to win the Holmenkollen 50km. It was amazing to have him there for support. (p.s. I was very sore after that session) I was bench pressing 37kg, and the gym owner was benching 110kg. Patience, Sarah, one day....(I don't think so!).










On Wednesday, I did rollerski strength up the damn hill we had biked on Sunday. I KNOW! I thought I was done with it as well. Nope, double pole and legs only session to the top. Thanks Coach ;) Side note: I will say Italian men are hilarious!!!! I think they see a lady, and their lips automatically pucker to whistle. I could be wearing my XL onesie rollerskiing, and men would still be whistling.

Anyways, the next day after doing the hill rollerskiing, we had a run. In my mind, an hour recovery like run. 3 1/2 hours and 27km later we arrived back at the car! No water, no food, +27- Let's just say the hanger monster was nearly released onto coach Federico. Thankfully, we completed the Val Visdende circuit through 8 mountain gullies, and lived to tell the tail. in hindsight- It was beautiful...but at the time I was focused on keeping the monster within and focus on the training.

Thursday night we had a great dinner with Pietro and his beautiful family. They were so kind and I feel very lucky to have been able to spend a week with such a great family, and such a successful athlete. Thanks guys!!!

Saturday afternoon, after a 7.5km sprint time trial, we drove to Alleghe, where a good family friend lives, and then Sunday onwards to Frassinoro. First stop once back: The puppies. 4 beautiful little tigers named Figoa, Alex (after the gym owner because he is the biggest), thunder, and bullet. Cutie patooties.

This week is a very special week as it is the week of the Beer and biathlon festival. Wahoo!!! Italy, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Estonia, Switzerland, Great Britain, New Zealand (thats me!) and...hmm...some more but I forget, are all coming to race here on Saturday in a fun team sprint race. Follow the group on Facebook to see how it goes (Frassinoro Beer and biathlon festival).

I hope this finds everyone happy and healthy and enjoying the wet weather in Canmore, earthquakes in Italy, Floods in Germany, and snow dumps in New Zealand!

xx Much love, Sarah



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

And when I said a short update of the season would be coming soon, what I actually meant was it's coming a few months late.
A Russian hat for my brother. I think I was more excited about it.


In my mind, this last season was not very good. But upon analysis, it was actually better than I perceived. The start (in Sweden) was a disaster as my rifle was totally kaput! That put a downer on the first 3 World Cups. After a nice Christmas in Switzerland and Italy, I had an absolutely crazy trip to Estonia and Russia for two IBU cup (Formerly called European cup) races. Here I had my beat results on the IBU cup tour with a 25th and 41st place in Ottepaa, Estonia and a 21st and 19th position in Ostrov, Russia. The main achievement was that I made my re qualification for the last 3 World Cups of the season.







This is my "How the heck am I going to get all this stuff home" face
After some good races in Martell (23rd in the sprint) I headed to World Championships in the Czech Republic, where I had normal races- nothing special, but okay. The great part was that I had good enough races to maintain my position in the nation cup standings, meaning I have  very good chance of having a spot for New Zealand at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. For the last Olympics I was ranked 33rd as a nation, and this year I am ranked 29th (I think).

Some touristy stuff!
I then raced in cross-country World Championships in Val Di Fiemme, Italy and had a lot of fun, and surprisingly strong races, especially in classic. I was very happy with those races.

Family time- Murphy style!
Off to Oslo I went for the next World Cup race and I started getting sick. From those races onwards I just got more and more sick, causing a not so happy end to the season. It was great to race in Sochi, but my condition definitely put a downer on the whole experience.

After the season I traveled through Europe a bit, visiting touristy spots I normally do not have time to visit, and then headed back to Canada after 11 months away from my family. It was amazing to be home, although only for a short stint. I got a lot of mini adventures in, including a week trip to the coast with my wonderful sister. It was a lot of fun.

Surf sisters in Tofino!
Back in Italia- representing NZL 
And now I am back in europe to train with my new coach, Federico Fontana. We will be traveling to Forni Avoltri for a 2 week training camp and then back to Frassinoro for the Frassinoro biathlon festival. After that we will head to New Zealand for 2 months to race in the 100% Pure New Zealand winter Games, and then back to Canada. Yahoo!!!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Just some photos!

'The tea-bag and the gazelle' - Uiloq Slettemark

mid ski snack in Norway!


How to make a bullet!

Bullets galore!

Testing away



New bedding- ooooh lala. 

Military sniper rifle a.k.a. my new biathlon rifle



Money!! Oh wait, thats just ammunition. 
WHO HAS 25 PAIRS OF SHOES?!?!
Made it home to this gorgeous lady!!!

THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR AN AMAZING SEASON!!!! xxxxx

Monday, April 8, 2013

The end is near!

Wow, this took a long time for me to write! I blame it on my computer crashing- it has travelled from South Korea, numerous times to New Zealand, Greenland, Russia and everywhere in between- I think, like me, my computer is a little tired. But, thank you to Thomas Borrenmo at 42Store (www.42store.se) in Arvika, Sweden, but getting it up and running again after crashing!

I raced in the cross-country world championships in Val Di Fiemme, Italy. Yep, I did the qualification race where I placed 13th. I had the most amazing skis waxed by the very kind Russian team. So amazing. I then thought it would be a good idea to race in the 15th Skiathlon. This race is 7.5km classic and then 7.5km skate. Salomon gave 2 new pairs of amazing classic skis to test before the race which really made me feel like a xc athlete ;) I had a lot of fun in the pursuit and achieved my goal of not being lapped by the top girls. I felt so good in classic that I think I will switch to race all my biathlon races on classic skis...maybe not ;)

On Tuesday the 26th I jumped in a transport with the Latvian team and headed to Munich to catch my flight to Oslo. Everytime you go through Munich with a rifle, the police come and check your rifle permit. Welll, mine had expired on my birthday (Feb 16th) so the police were not so impressed with me. After a few sweaty moments, the older police office told me to just shut the case and go, where as the younger police officer wanted to charge me...thanks old police man! It's the same when I got caught on the train with my rifle- the older police man was so nice, where as the younger good looking one wanted to arrest me- Crazy world!

Anyways, I made it to Oslo and checked into the fancy Park hotel on the Homenkollen hill right by the beautiful ski jump. It was nice to live up on the mountain and to be able to walk to the stadium instead of having to take a transport. The first day was training and then race day! 7.5km sprint at one of the best world cup pit stops- so nice! Unfortunately I missed 2 in standing and did not have a great ski, but I thoroughly enjoyed the race, and cooling down with Tora Berger afterwards wasn't so bad either :) For the next couple days I was able to get some nice training sessions in and watch the other races.

On Monday the 4th of March we all loaded up into the charter flight and flew to Sochi, Russia. This was a very exciting race as it was the test race for the Olympics and the first time any of us biathletes had been there. Let's just say the process into Russia was absolutely crazy with our rifles and ammunition. I was ready to lie down and give up, but after signing 700 pieces of paper, I made it through. It is moments like these that I see the benefit of having a coach to do all the small, stressful tasks! We drove to the hotel in Rosa Khutor- a 4 star, brand new, never slept in bed was waiting for me in the hotel room, which I then crashed on and had the best sleep of my life. I woke up to a stuffed up head and a not so good feeling- I was sick :(What awful timing! Could it not have waited 2 more weeks? I was so angry! But...it is the last 2 weeks of racing, so I am just going to push through.

There was no information about the transport or anything, so in the morning, myself and the Hungarians went out and jumped on a bus that said 'biatlon'. 10 minutes later we got off at a random gondola, went through 3 security screens, and got onto a gondola going up a valley. At the top we got off, and were ushered into a sketchy van that drove us on a half built road, past a lot of construction, to the biathlon arena. We had made it! Now to get our rifles, and ammunition, and skis. 1 1/2 hours later I was ready to train! The British coach was very generous to offer his help on the range-  Thanks Scotty!

The tracks in Sochi are absolutely like nothing I had raced on before; The uphills were long and steep, and the downhills were fast with sharp corners. I loved it, really! Not many people did, and it was a very hard course to race on and impossible to train on, but it was different! Something new and exciting. The first race for me was the 15km individual- I missed 6 and skied okay considering how sick I was. I was thrilled at the end that I had not fallen because so many people did! Here is a tour from the IBU: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cssWmQEphCU.

After this race, I am not going to lie, I was so dead. All the athletes were absolute zombies afterwards. The next day I was even more sick. I went for a walk around the village and it was crazy. It was like the Truman show- I swear the people walking around were hired actors Alex Almoukov (Aussie athlete) and I got caught in a film set. We thought it was just normal people enjoying a nice day in the sun, but no, as we were walking through we heard 'action' and everyone started moving around in the set. It was a whole different world. We even saw the same women every day in the same spot walking with her baby....awkward. The next race was the sprint and I should not have started. I was so sick. But there was only 2 races left, so I did. My skiing was awful and I felt like death, but it was nice to race anyways!

The process leaving Sochi was even worse coming in. Here is a wee video to show you the frustration! http://www4.biathlonworld.com/en/press_releases.html/do/detail?presse=1899

So, on the Monday we jumped back onto the charter flight and flew to Khanty-Mansysk, Russia. I have never been so excited to get to Siberia! I was still awfully sick for these races. Nothing crazy happened here except for the normal end of race party- this is always crazy- but nice because all the athletes are able to relax at the end of a long and hard season.

And thats it! That was the season. I ended it sick as a dog. I will write a wee review as well to sum up the season. Stay tuned!!

xxx Sarah





Monday, February 18, 2013

World Championships and XC World Cup



One of the great perks of being an athlete it being able to travel to new countries and meet new people. I had never been to the Czech Republic before and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. The stadium in Nove Mesto was absolutely magnificent- it was HUGE! Here's a aerial of it:

Photo: Autor + foto© - Jan Vondra, Aerofot.cz
It was such an amazing atmosphere in the stadium, but I could also feel how much more tense all the athletes and coaches were. Me? I think I was less tense! I was very lucky to have Richard Boruta with me for these races, so I had less work and less worries than usual. It was such a treat.

Photo: Foto Jan KodeŇ°The first race was the 10km sprint and I was a little stressed. I think this came through in my skiing as I had a very slow last lap. I hit all 5 targets in prone, but missed 2 in standing, leaving me with 8/10 and not a very happy athlete at the end. The course here was very tough. Up, up, up and then a lot of down. If you didn't ski smart, you would totally blow you
r legs up (not literally- that would be messy and I think humanly impossible).

In between races was great as I was living at the same hotel as my old Canadian teammates (not in the age sense, although I did have a birthday and am now on the dark side of my twenties). We would eat together and when some of us did not qualify for the pursuit, we were able to enjoy some glasses of apple juice and play charades- just like back in the day when there was no internet. It was lovely.


Thanks Glen Crawford for the amazing photo!
The next race for the women was the 15km individual. I really was not looking forward to this race as I have not been feeling strong on my skis. But I went out, starter number 18, and really tried to ski smart and controlled. First prone I missed one, as well as in my first standing. Half way through the race and I was feeling...actually quite alright. I was enjoying my time on the trails and just focused on the task at hand. And then came 2nd prone- the wind was so strong that I clicked a total of 6 to the left....3 misses! Ah crap. (After the race my coach would inform me I should have clicked 8 or 9 to the left!). For my last standing I went into lane 24 (as this was my last race as a 24 year old) and missed 2- 24 sucked anyways (not really- written sarcasm doesn't always come through properly). So...7 misses, 7 minutes added on...not a good shooting race. But the skiing...well, for me...felt great. I thoroughly enjoyed this race.
Right before the race...This is what a focused Murphy looks like. Thanks Glen Crawford for the amazing photos!
The next day I was off at 7 am...back to the Russian embassy in Prague. But no worries, all I had to do was pick up my passport and be on my way with my new Russian visa. Successful and organized- who am I? After a short flight from Prague to Milano and a long train ride, I made it back to little S-chanf, Switzerland! Two sleeps later I found myself in Davos, Switzerland preparing for my first ever cross-country world cup race- 10 km skate.
Photo: New Zealand wax room in Davos...what a happening place...

I found the cross-country atmosphere very different to biathlon. It was not as organized as biathlon, but I will say the staff and coaches cheered a lot more for every athlete, not just their own. It was a really nice experience. Thank you very much to the Canadians for waxing my skis- they were super! And the race? Well, it was hard. I found it a lot harder than any biathlon race I have done this season. I think it is very beneficial for me to now do some xc races, not just for my speed, but also mentally to have to keep pushing through the whole race. I was last. Yep....at the very end. And far behind. But someone just told me it can only get better from there...so that is a positive :)


Thank you again to everyone for the amazing support! Even though I was last, I am still feeling the love from everyone :) xxxxx Here's to things getting better and better and 25 more years of fun and excitement:) 

NORMA ammunition