Viking takes aim at education
Anne Mirejovsky will be competing in biathlon with the University of Alberta-Augustana this winter. Supplied
Anne Mirejovksy has joined the University of Alberta-Augustana biathlon team, one of the few schools in North America with a biathlon program.
Biathlon is a niche sport in Canada, with Biathlon Canada having 2,500 people participating in clubs across the country. That doesn’t include the others who participate but are not a part of a club.
“I’d say that biathlon is unique due to the major mental portion of the sport with regard to shooting,” Mirejovsky said. “A lot of training is devoted to learning to focus on shooting by bringing your heart rate down after skiing. In order to practice this we do a lot of dry firing at home, which involves aiming at printed targets on the wall with an unloaded rifle and going through the shooting procedure numerous times.”
Mirejovsky started cross-country skiing with the Camrose Ski Club at a young age. Jacqueline Akerman, former biathlon head coach at Augustana and current Biathlon Canada Athlete helped launch her passion for biathlon.
“I started cross country skiing with the Camrose Ski Club at the age of three and continued until I was nine years old,” she said. “When I was nine Jacqueline held a day camp where I was introduced to biathlon. She inspired me to join and continue with biathlon, coaching me through my early formative years.”
The experience with the ski club really helped Mirejovsky develop as a biathlete.
“I have had a very positive experience with the Camrose Ski Club through my many years with them,” she said. “They have created a coaching environment where you are part of a close knit group that collectively strive to push each other further. This close dynamic allowed me to be mentored by the university students as a child, inspiring me to continue in my current pursuits.”
Augustana biathlon head coach, Lowell Niven who also works with the Camrose Ski Club said there is team mentality within the club.
“There’s not a lot of us, but even though we’re an individual sport, there’s a lot of team feelings,” he said. “We all work together, we all make sure we’re helping each other, helping each other grow as athletes and as people. It’s a great community.”
Joining the Augustana biathlon team was a no-brainer for Mirejovsky, as she’s been involved with the Junior Vikings program.
“I grew up skiing and training as a junior Viking with the university ski team, so it was always a goal of mine to join them when I grew up,” she said. “I have been training with Lowell for four years and he has continually pushed me to pursue greater achievements. Joining the Augustana Ski Team just feels like a natural progression for me.”
Niven has seen Mirejovsky from a young age, and praised her coachability.
“She’s an athlete that when you tell her something to do and she’ll do it,” he said. “I’ve seen her really mature over the last couple years, her dedication to biathlon is really, really good.”
Mirejovksy’s father, Petr, is an associate professor of history at Augustana, so she has been entrenched in the university community for most of her life.
“I have been exposed to the university from a young age. When I was younger I would sit in on some of my dad’s lectures and we are family friends with some of the professors,” she said. “As a result, the move to Augustana doesn’t feel too daunting as I am somewhat familiar with the campus and some staff.”