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,



  1. Kia kaha Smurphy - great to read your blog - look forward to hearing of your next adventures xxx

  2. Sarah, it has been a pleasure to know you, and your family, from your very first races I met you at. I have followed your career over the years, and always enjoyed meeting with you at biathlon venues around the circuit.
    Best wishes for your future.

  3. I wish you all the best of luck!
    Goodbye Sarah.

  4. Hurry back to the blog Sarah. Love to hear what life is throwing at yoy.


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