Sunday, November 16, 2014

Life Decisions

Hello all you wonderful humans out there!

I am sorry for the lack of updated blogs and replies to questions about the future....decisions: they are not easy. 

I started biathlon when I was 13 years old and it has been my life ever since.

Being awarded the Duke of Edinburgh from 
 I started out racing civilian and cadet biathlon at the same time. I had so many great opportunities with Cadets, and was lucky to be awarded the Duke of Edinburgh award from Sophie, the Countess of Wessex.

Switching from the Canadian team to race for New Zealand seven years ago was an easy decision at the time, and one which I will never regret, but at times I do look back and wonder what my life would be like if I had not made that decision so quickly. Would I have continued even doing biathlon? Perhaps that is just how life is; looking back on life and wondering how things could have been, or would have been different?  
Nobody knows what would have happened if I had stayed racing for Canada, but I know what happened when I switched, under the strong persuasion and encouragement of New Zealand, and it has turned me into the person I am today.
New Zealand

Team NZ!

The opportunities and experiences I have had racing on the World Cup circuit under the New Zealand flag have been mind-blowing. Even now some of these experiences are turning into distant memories, until I see an old photo or just suddenly the memory pops into my head, and it all comes back so clearly. I feel so fortunate to have been to: over 30 World Cup races; five different World Championships; one Olympic Games (Whistler) (and qualified for a 2nd (Sochi)); raced in Greenland in the Arctic Circle Race; and the American Berkie, as well as obtaining a diploma in Adventure Tourism Management from Queenstown Resort College. I’ve lived in New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland and Italy, and traveled the world from Siberia to South Korea, and I feel oh so lucky for it as well J
My first year racing- No coach but lots of smiles :) 

I cannot mention enough about the amazing people I have been fortunate to meet. The other athletes and team staff who were so kind to welcome-in an orphaned athlete to the biathlon family. I cannot stress enough how amazing the Eastern European countries are. Many Western countries do not have the opportunity to get to know them as there is a language barrier, but also a large misconception of what they are like as a people. I can say I would not have been able to race 6 years if it wasn't for the generosity of Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Poland and other countries from that region. If they had space in their car, they would help, if they didn't, they would try to make some. They would always invite you in for a tea or a drink and give you the best seat and offer food and anything to make you welcome. The Ukraine team let me travel with them for two years, even though we had no way of communicating except by sign language. I feel so lucky to have been given the chance to get to know some of these teams.
Ladies gossiping before WCH training

Of course, I needed a little English every now and then, and that's when the British team saved me. They are now life long friends, and the fun and happiness they brought to the World Cup circuit made my seasons. Uiloq and Oystein Slettemark from the Greenland team invited me to their home in Norway and were my confidants from my very first season.

Some examples of the support I received from various other national teams are: the American team inviting me to eat with them when we were in the same hotel and the random skis we had together; the Swiss team opened their homes and gave me the opportunity to live and train with them in Switzerland, and the Italian team waxed my skis and let me drive with them for European Championships. I guess I cannot point out what every team did for me, but I will say every team has helped me out in some way. The only way I can say ‘thank you’ is to let everyone know how much I appreciate them, and their generosity, through this blog. 

Richard and I having a time at World Championships in Czech
The list of coaches I have had over the years is quite astonishing. Again, realizing hindsight is truly 20-20, if I had had more consistent coaching and training plans over the years, I would have had very different results. But again, I would not have had the experiences I have had. A list of coaches in semi-chronological order: Tom Davidson and Scott Ward, Joanne Thompson, Dave Bradley, Amy Ford, Matthias Ahrens, Tom Zidek, Roddy Ward, John Jaques, Janez Vodicar, My Ukraine Papa, Val Burke, Vegard Bitnes, Federico Fontana, Anders Brolund, and the rocks in my career who supported me throughout this crazyness; Peter Zidek, Richard Boruta, and my mother and father. I apologize now if I have inadvertently left someone out.

Of course, there are others to recognize. The International Biathlon Union and Biathlon New Zealand made it all possible, as well as the amazing sponsors I have had over the years. Without their generosity, I would not have been able to do what I have done. The sponsors, even though I was nowhere near the top, supported me in many different ways; gear, funding, and moral support. I wish I could have repaid them somehow with amazing results and an abundance of gold medals, but I hope the good karma of having supported a small-nation athlete will reward them in other ways! 
And last, but not least, I must pay tribute to all of my friends, family and other supporters throughout the Bow valley and around the world. Support by way of financial and moral encouragement made it possible to race on the international circuit. If it wasn’t for this and sponsor support, I would never had made it to the 2010 Olympics, nor qualified for Sochi. I was also overwhelmed by the various fan clubs that recognized my efforts. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

I have decided, at the minimum, to take this year off from racing and to see where I am in a year’s time. The decision I have made is due to many different reasons: not being selected for Sochi; lack of support from the country I represent; no teammates to train with; and a personal feeling of wanting to do more, at this time, with my life. I feel I have advanced as far in competitive biathlon as I can, given the present

circumstances. I think I am ready to see what else is out there, and to start working towards my professional life as a…who knows what yet! I am still not sure what I want to do, which is exciting but a bit frightening. This is why, on Thursday, I am flying to Nicaragua for 2 months to see what life will throw at me. 

Thank you again, everyone, for your love and support.

At this time I will keep the blog just in case I end up doing something ridiculously awesome and I feel the urge to inform the world :)

Much love,


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Spring in the Rockies!

Hello lovely people of the world! If your reading this, you are most likely lost on the interweb, a fan of spandex sports, or my father (Hi dad!) I guess we can pick it up from where we left off: after the American Birkie adventure, where I arrived back into Canmore to a week of -35 and colder conditions. What a welcoming!

My parents, after having my home for a week, decided that was enough family time and jetted off to South America for 3 months. Not that I was complaining- oh the bliss of an empty house, full fridge, the family dog, a car and your home town you know inside out- Freedom! (My parents are actually lovely people- amazing human beings really- but moving home sure does bring that hidden/not-so-hidden 15 year old back out).

Some nice running adventures with my mother! 

I skied quite a bit and relaxed, whilst trying to figure out what to do with my life. I gave up on one of those, and ended up having many lovely ski adventures...I think we can all guess which one I gave up on....or at least, set aside for the moment... ;) I had some great skis up at Mount Shark, and went on a great overnight trip to Elk Lake Hut in Kananaskis. Just gorgeous!
The Leg Burner at Lake Louise ski field!

Excited to ski at Lake Louise!

Pumped to be out touring with my SportTagId! (

One of the adventures consisted of starting hiking in the dark, carrying our skis on our packs, up Ha Ling peak in Canmore, AB to ski Miners Gully. It is a popular ski mountaineering adventure as it only takes the morning and it is a cool thing to be able to look up from town and say "I skied that". We ended up putting our crampons on at the very start of the hike, which took about 1 hr. 45 mins to get to the top of the gully. We hunkered down, put our layers on and got ready for the descent.

Nearing the top of the gully

The main, narrower gully on skiers right is the usual descent, but after a nights freeze of three other tracks, we decided to ski the main bowl on skiers left. It was rock-hard, no question, but hitting the middle of the choke was a different story, as the snow turned into almost unskiable awkwardness. None-the-less, we made it to the main bowl where there were even some cheeky wee powder puffs coming from our turns.

We did not have to rappel the first little cliff band/waterfall, but the second one we set up a short rappel. The snow, at this point was pretty thin, but we were able to ski 95% of it. We even had a cheeky ski down the switchbacks on mountain bike trail, Highline. Arriving into the dog park on skis at 11am, and off to breakfast at the Summit. It is nice to look out the kitchen window and be able to remember a nice trip down Miners Gully.

Another wee mission I was happy to get to do was with my long time mentor, coach and friend, Richard Boruta. Richard had always wanted to ski off of the East End of Rundle (EEOR), which then found us at the trailhead at 5am hiking up a Canmore Classic with skis and boots strapped to our skis, and running shoes on our feet. I was a bit skeptical about the running shoes, but the coach is always right, and we were able to make it to the summit with no shoe change. We did ascend up a small, recently slid chute on the lookers left instead of heading along the ridgeline, so I was happy to have my iceaxe along for the extra stability! We made it to the summit in just under 2 hours, around 7 am, and waved at all the lovely folk of Canmore. It was great to be on the summit for the sunrise.
Top of EEOR

Looking into the bowl and trying to figure out our line, we had a choice between a two-day old avalanche debris or a 1-day old avalanche debris. We decided on the fresh stuff. It was chunky, but within the chunks were some secret pockets of half-turn wonders....It's all about the adventure, right? Richard, in his gloriousness, had a few heart attack moments (for me!) by falling near the top of cliff bands. He lived, so all was good :) I had a nice line down to the bottom of the bowl, where Richard had a bit of a challenging one, but in the end, we made it and were pleasantly surprised to have spring like conditions heading down to the tree-line.

Once in the trees, it was a different story- heavy snow that was pretty much impossible to ski. So, we had a nice 45 minute hike or so down to the Nordic Centre parking lot. Arriving time- 9:30am. What another great morning.

I was also pumped to have a great day out doing the third annual TRIFECTA: It starts with skiing every lift at Sunshine ski Village, followed by a canoe from near the Sunshine pullout to Banff docks, finishing the day off with a round of golf at the Banff Springs golf course. Very fun and after 15 hours, we were pretty tuckered!


Spring is here! Riversurfing on the Bow

Now the snow is melting and everyone is thawing from the freezing winter in Canmore. I have been  studying for my ACMG hiking guides course in Jasper and going on family trips to visit long-lost cousins and to help build houses. It may not be perfect, but it's made with love. (That's what I say anyways!). I am still contemplating that "what am I going to do with my life?" question, as I still have not decided on my biathlon future. If anyone has any insight, I am open to suggestions!

Thank you to Arcteryx ( and Suunto ( for the awesomest gear out there for adventuring! Also to OUT THERE for their love and support. A big hug to all my friends for being just absolutely amazing people! And a thanks to all of you for supporting me through the tough times, the fun times, and the good times :)

xx Much Love,


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The 41st American Birkie

Hi Everyone!
Just a quick update about my latest adventure in America!! I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to race in the 41st American Birkebeiner, thanks to my sponsor Out There and the organizing committee!
I have never competed in an official Birkie, and never raced a 50km skate race before. My longest skate race is the New Zealand Loppet, Merino Muster(which this year felt more like 60km because of the conditions). I was headed back to North America anyways so I thought it would be a perfect stop-over!
After a bit of discussion, it was sussed, and I booked my flight home to Canada via. Minneapolis. After a disaster leaving Italy with an expired drivers license forcing me to leave the booked rental car in Merano and jump on the train with 2 duffel bags, a rifle, a 35kg ski bag, backpack and purse, where I was then shuffled around the Milan main station by an illegal worker who helped me get my bags to the bus. 30 euros later I was on the bus to Milan Malpensa airport, where I then had to take a taxi to the hotel. Phew....I'm tired all over again just thinking about it!

The next morning I made it to the airport and checked problems with the rifle (first time ever!) but was charged 400 euros for my bags (damn!). BUT....I made it onto the plane to JFK so life was good! Arriving at 9:30pm into Minneapolis and I was greeted by a smiling-bearded man who could have only been my sponsor, Bjorn, owner of Out There! Yahooo!!! After being intercepted by two lost Russians also on their way to the Birkie, we 4 jumped in for a 2 hour drive to Rice Lake,

Where skiers go to get picked up at the Birkie

Yeah Swix!
Thursday and Friday are a bit of a blur as I was quite tired and jetlagged, but I was conscious enough to take in the kids Barniebirkie and compete in the elite athlete sprints. It was a great way to meet some of the best athletes and have some fun. They were very short sprints, and I was feeling it pretty rough, but it got the body moving in prep for the big day!!!
4:30am Race day and I was already awake due to jetlag- Perfect! After a quick Oatmeal breaky, we jumped in the car and drove to Telemark, where the race starts. I was in the Elite womens category, meaning I was in the very first start group at 8am. Pulling into the parking lot at 7:53am and frantically putting my ski boots on was the best warmup possible as it was -20 and very windy. I ran to the start, jiggled my body around to warm it up, and then got on the front line of the heat with my freshly waxed (by Out There!) Fischer skis- not to mention my new white and gold bindings- ooooh lala! The gun went off, the banners were raised, and we were out into the horribly cold head wind. Who do you think found herself in the very front leading the group? Yep, this girl. New Zealand leading the field....for about 1km :)
The driveway out from the house
The course was just gorgeous. 2 nights before there had been a massive snowstorm with 18 inches of new snow which not only collapsed and ruined two huge warmup tents, but also made the conditions very slow. There we were, us tiny spandex-clad ladies speeding through the trees of Wisconsin, working together to be faster by switching leaders periodically. One lady and I were working very well together until at the 25km feed station she got it caught under a volunteers foot and broke her pole- shoot!
After getting one gel and a couple sips of water at 25km, myself and another competitor teamed up to work together to catch some more women. It was amazing- we attacked the hills, pushed up and over the tops, and at this speed, we passed 10 or so girls putting us in 10th and 11th position. It was an amazing feeling. Coming into the 39th km feed station, I tried to grab some gels from the volunteers, but missed both of them, as well as the water. The girl I was skiing with was already heading out, so I though "10 more km, I can do it". 30 seconds later I hit the wall so hard that I cannot even explain the pain I was in trying to just stay with this girl.

Imagine this but 10 thousand more.
Slowly but surely she made time on me...I was losing her. My legs did not even feel apart of my body. I remember coming to one hill, putting my head down, and just staring at my leg, willing them to keep going one in front of the other. I was in autopilot, just trying to suffer through and finish. This is when the first 2 girls passed me. As they passed, I tried my hardest to jump in behind them, but there was no chance- I lasted 30 meters, and they were off. At 46km I got a drink of some Enervit sport drink, which felt like heaven coursing through my body, but it was too late. I was done. 
At the 47km another female elite athlete passed me. I again tried to hold on, but I was like a drowning duck- I knew what I had to do, I just could not do it. Then there was the 2km long lake. Oh dear me...Those jagermeister shots at the start of the lake were very tempting! I put my head down and battled through the ice-cold wind and slow snow. It was probably the hardest moment of my racing career- After no food except for one gel at 25km and 2 sips of water, I was completed depleted of any sort of energy. The finish line could not have come soon enough, and crossing that line in 3 hours and 3 minutes, in 17th position in the womens category (5th in my age category), I was so full of mixed emotions. I had had the best 40km race of my life, and the worst 10km race of my life- but I did it! That is the thing- I did the 50km American Birkie in a respectably time and placing, and in all honesty, I am thrilled! (I was also randomly selected for doping control, so that was fun...;)
Post Birkie bratwurst and beer!
After a luke warm shower and a hot soup, I stayed and cheered on the finishers. 10 500 racers! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT NUMBER= TEN THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED! It was incredible. My sponsor (Bjorn and Kris) both raced the classic 54km birkie, making an amazing atmosphere at the finish line of tired, ecstatic racers. I cannot thank them enough for their hospitality and kindness, their support and love- They are not just a sponsor, but a friend, and now my Birkie family.
The next day I packed up and headed to the airport to catch my flight to Calgary. Flying on standby, I was not able to get on the flight as they were both full, dang. But thanks to the birkie, a new friend (Justin) and his wife lived 15 minutes from the airport- LIFE SAVERS! People are amazing. I stayed at theirs that night, where he told me all about a charity mountain bike race he is organizing for ALS disease. Very cool people. Check out the ride at

 I was able to get on the flight Monday morning, and arrived back in Canmore after 10 months away. That was a long trip, a little too long, and I am so happy to be back in a place I know, with my family.
I hope this finds everyone happy and healthy! Ill try to find some photos to send through!!
xxx Much Love,


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Meet Team New Zealand...Sarah Murphy

Hi Everyone :) I am sorry for my silence and lack of updates. I have wanted to, and tried many times, to write this post, but it only came out bitter and angry. What happened is that I did not fulfill the stringent qualification criteria the New Zealand set out and so I was not selected for the Olympics in Sochi. I had made the IBU qualification in almost every IBU race I had done, so it was not a question for International qualification. The NZOC had made made it so I needed to get top 50 in the World Cup 3 times. I was not able to do this due to poor shooting, equipment failure, and poor performance. I gave it my all, but with more than just racing always on my mind (ie. hotel bookings, transport, race registrations, team captain meetings, ski preperations, etc.) I was not able to pull it off. In many of the races I was one or two hits away from fulfilling my 13 year dream. I was having a very hard time to sit down and write about what has happened in the last 2 weeks but with not being selected for the Olympic Team, not qualifying for the last three world cups, and my results not where they should be, it was all just a bit much.

 Movie Break! Here is a little video you can watch that the awesome guys from Biathlonworld TV made during the Hochfilzen, Grande Bornand, and Ruhpolding World Cups.

It was so kind for them to make it as they heard all about my struggles as we had first met the year before in the same transport from Sweden to Norway. It is well made, but unfortunately, in the end, it did not have a fairytale ending.

Here are also two articles from New Zealand explaining a bit about the unfairness of it all. (Please ignore the photos- I look like Jabba the Hutts cousin).

Article 1

Article 2

With all of this media and negativity going around, it has been hard to focus on what is next, and it has been hard to make any sort of decisions on what to do now. After posting it on Facebook, I was bombarded with overwhelming support and messages from family, friends and supporters. Here are a few exampled of the posts below...

"Marianne Baudouin Sarah, you will always be my hero. Love your heart and dedication. Like you said, those memories are priceless. I'm so proud of you for everything you accomplished. I hope my kids have half the heart you do. xxx"

"Cate Scott You have had a great journey and all of us have enjoyed being part of it !! We love you Sarah for who you are as a person not you the biathlete !! May the rest of your life be filled with adventure!!"

"Frank Murphy Hi Sarah. Sorry to hear the news. We are all very proud of your accomplishments over the past several years. Here is what I wrote to the Editor in response to today's article in the Otago Daily Times:

Thanks so much for publishing this article. Sarah has had a terrific series of hardships in her last four years preparing for the 2014 Olympics. As you noted, virtually no support from NZ. Additionally, to mention a few of her trials and tribulations; hitch hiking from competition to competition, getting help from other country competitors (meals, waxing, billeting, transportation etc.) and, financial support from her Mom and Dad and Canadian home town friends, kept her going. Her sponsors added to her support without question. NZ support has been nothing but disgraceful. However, her passion for the sport and love of NZ pushed her on. I’m given to understand that you peak in this sport around the age of 28. For her to quit now is heart breaking. NZ has turned its back on Sarah. Once again, thank you so much Lucy for this article. It’s unfortunate that it is highlighted after the fact.

This article, noted below, was published in the Ortago Daily Times Thursday 23 January 2014

Uncle Frank"

"Lynn Borrowman We have loved every minute of your adventurous spirited heart! Here there and everywhere from NZ to the border of Russia to moose hunting in Sweden!!! Yikes!!! You are the best, Sarah!"

"Richard Battrum: Total shame to hear that you will not be in Sochi.
I understand the struggles that you have been going through and your reasons for retiring. However, I would just like to say that having met you in Bled, Slovenia last year that you are an absolute delight and it was a pleasure for me to meet you, albeit briefly.
You are a credit to your sport and without you taking part the sport will be a much duller place.
Thank you so much for the joy that you have given to me and your fellow supporter/followers over the years and best wishes for everything that you do in the future."

I wish I could post them all, but there are 170 likes, and over 75 comments, not including emails and private messages. It is a very scary time, but with all the love coming at me, it makes it not easy, but that much easier.

Now, I am sitting in a hotel room in the Czech Republic (where the orange curtains match the orange carpet, and seem to be made of the same fabric, and the shower runs orange making the bathtub look like a murder scene) and realizing I am at my last Under 26 European Championships. In two weeks, I turn 26. My brain has been overloaded with the two words "What next?".....Retire? Continue? Get a job? Keep it up for another four years? It is an amazing lifestyle, but for me it is a little different then other teams- No money, no acknowledgement from my nation, alone with no support. I am getting tired and my results are suffering- Time to make a change.

I am not sure what that is yet, but whatever it is, it will be an interesting future, and day by day, I am starting to look forward to it.

NORMA ammunition