For her country
Healed heart, healthy body, Tandy takes aim at World Cup tour
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.
Prince George’s Megan Tandy pauses for a photo during the Canadian biathlon team trials, held recently in Canmore, Alta.