For her coun­try

Healed heart, healthy body, Tandy takes aim at World Cup tour

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Ted CLARKE Ci­ti­zen staff [email protected]­i­t­i­zen.ca

Prince Ge­orge’s own Me­gan Tandy is the leader of a ri­fle-tot­ing pack of en­er­getic speed demons on skis, oth­er­wise known as the Cana­dian women’s biathlon team. The three-time Olympian earned that man­tle the hard way, by win­ning the na­tional team tri­als a few weeks ago in Can­more.

Con­sid­er­ing what she went through ear­lier this year, the fact Tandy was even race-ready to take on na­tion’s best biath­letes was a small mir­a­cle for the 30-year-old Cale­do­nia Nordic Ski Club mem­ber.

“Ob­vi­ously I’m happy to be back on the World Cup team and more than any­thing I’m just thank­ful and ex­cited for the op­por­tu­nity be­cause I was sick so much last sea­son and it didn’t go as I’d have hoped,” said Tandy.

A virus that forced her to drop out of the Olympic com­pe­ti­tion in Pyeongchan­g in Fe­bru­ary and scut­tled the rest of Tandy’s World Cup sea­son turned out more se­ri­ous than she thought and had lin­ger­ing ef­fects. Right after the Olympics Tandy learned the vi­ral in­fec­tion was shrink­ing the size of her heart and her car­di­ol­o­gist pre­scribed 10 weeks of bed rest to re­verse the con­di­tion.

“One of the colds or flus I caught in the sea­son af­fected by heart and it was a tough spring,” said Tandy. “By the time I got to the end of the sea­son they said the in­fec­tion wasn’t acute but that my heart had lost some­where around a third of the mus­cle mass com­pared to what they ex­pected as an en­durance ath­lete.

“I don’t think I’ve ever stayed still that much in my life. I missed the out­doors and move­ment so much. More than any­thing, in­stead of con­sid­er­ing re­tire­ment or my ca­reer I was just, for a small win­dow of time, wor­ried about my health in gen­eral and if I’d be able to en­joy recre­ational sport or have any longterm health dam­age.”

By mid-spring Tandy was back to full health and her doc­tor gave her the go-ahead to re­sume train­ing and she made up her mind to try to earn back the na­tional team spot she’s

A virus that forced her to drop out of the Olympic com­pe­ti­tion in Pyeongchan­g in Fe­bru­ary and scut­tled the rest of Tandy’s World Cup sea­son turned out more se­ri­ous than she thought and had lin­ger­ing ef­fects.

had since she was 18.

“I was just in­cred­i­bly lucky and healed well and there are no prob­lems,” she said. “I kind of thought about it and I’ve put so much of my life and pas­sion and en­ergy into this sport and I didn’t want to go out with a dis­ap­point­ing year, even if it was an Olympic year. I wanted to go out on my own terms and I was re­ally grate­ful my spon­sor, a soft­ware com­pany in Ger­many, was will­ing to stay with me.”

Tandy and her part­ner Do­minik Wolf live in Klin­gen­thal, Ger­many, with her eight-yearold son Predo and Wolf’s nine-year-old son Lenny. Both kids were in school last year and were ex­posed to cold and flu bugs which they brought home. By the time the Cana­dian team tri­als rolled around Tandy was al­ready fight­ing off the ef­fects of a head cold.

“If I looked back I re­ally wish that I had had the con­fi­dence to say, ‘nope, this isn’t great for my health,’ and sat out the tri­als,” she said.

“But you’re un­der pres­sure, you want to make the Olympic team and I’d flown over from Ger­many to race and I chose to race even though I wasn’t to­tally healthy.

“It’s not some­thing that we can prove, but we sus­pected that’s what led to the heart prob­lems and by March I was just done,” Tandy said. “Seven or 10 days after the Olympics we fig­ured out what was go­ing on.”

Tandy had been a late ad­di­tion to the 2018 Olympic team, hav­ing started the sea­son on the IBU Cup tour. She fin­ished 47th out of 87 com­peti­tors in the sprint race in Pyeon­chang to qual­ify for the pur­suit but was too sick to race and made the de­ci­sion to drop out of the Olympic com­pe­ti­tion a cou­ple days be­fore the women’s 15 km in­di­vid­ual race.

The sil­ver lin­ing was that her Cale­do­nia club­mate, Sarah Beaudry of Prince Ge­orge, the al­ter­nate on the team, took Tandy’s place and in her Olympic de­but fin­ished 29th as the high­est-fin­ish­ing Cana­dian. Beaudry also helped Canada to a re­spectable 10th­place re­sult in the team re­lay.

After months of in­ac­tiv­ity, in­stead of go­ing for long runs like she usu­ally did, Tandy had to start with short jogs al­ter­nated by walk­ing seg­ments. She grad­u­ally built up her stamina and by July she started to hit her pre­vi­ous train­ing bench­marks. By the time she got to the tri­als in Can­more she felt in­vigourated and it showed in her re­sults – se­cond the first race, first in the se­cond race and fourth in the third – good enough to win the over­all women’s ti­tle.

“I was ready to rip and I’m feel­ing awe­some,” she said.

Tandy is now in Pokljuka, Slove­nia, this week pre­par­ing for the sea­son-open­ing World Cup events, which start with the re­lays on Sun­day, with in­di­vid­ual races, sprints and pur­suits to fol­low next week.

Beaudry, 24, is back with the na­tional B team and started her race sea­son Thurs­day at an IBU Cup event in Idre, Swe­den (see story, page 7). Emily Dick­son, 21, a Cale­do­nia club mem­ber from Burns Lake, is also on the IBU Cup team.

Tandy’s sea­son goal is to start nail­ing per­sonal bests and to be a reg­u­lar fin­isher in the top-16. This year she’s work­ing with a full-time coach who works specif­i­cally with her. That’s some­thing new for Tandy, who has been pretty much on her own since she moved to Ger­many the year be­fore the birth of her son.

“You’d think that’s stan­dard but it’s ac­tu­ally the first time I’ve had a coach prob­a­bly in eight or nine years as a se­nior ath­lete, who has re­ally made a train­ing plan specif­i­cally for me,” Tandy said.

“He’d like to re­main anony­mous and that’s a lit­tle un­usual. He works for an­other na­tional team and has a bit of dif­fer­ent train­ing phi­los­o­phy and it’s work­ing for me so far. I don’t think I would have been able to go from rock-bot­tom for a World Cup ath­lete in the spring, back to win­ning na­tional team tri­als in No­vem­ber with­out him. It gives me a nice con­fi­dence boost go­ing into the sea­son.”

Rosanna Craw­ford, 30, is also on the World Cup women’s team, along with Me­gan Bankes of Cal­gary and Na­dia Moser of White­horse, Yukon, both 22. The Cana­dian men’s team for the first leg of the tour in­cludes Scott Gow of Can­more, 28, his 25-year-old brother Chris­tian, and 32-year-olds Nathan Smith of Cal­gary and Bren­dan Green of Hay River, N.W.T.

The BMM World Cup tour also stops in Hochfilzen, Aus­tria, Dec. 10-16 and Nove Mesto, Czech Re­pub­lic, Dec. 17-23, lead­ing in to the Christ­mas break. Both Cana­dian na­tional teams will stay in Aus­tria over Christ­mas. The World Cup tour re­sumes in Ober­hof, Ger­many on Jan. 7.

Tandy’s sea­son goal is to start nail­ing per­sonal bests and to be a reg­u­lar fin­isher in the top-16.

HAND­OUT PHOTO COUR­TESY ME­GAN TANDY

Prince Ge­orge’s Me­gan Tandy pauses for a photo dur­ing the Cana­dian biathlon team tri­als, held re­cently in Can­more, Alta.

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