Along with peeling off the layers, summertime ski training often entails guest-star appearances. Many college athletes depart school and return to club programs, clubs may combine training sessions or camps, and even internationally, skiers from different countries coordinate their training schedules. Given the choice, 2016 two-time World Championships silver medalist Anaïs Bescond of France didn’t need to think twice about her crossover team: Canada.
After discussing the possibility of banding with the Biathlon Canada’s women’s team with Canadian head coach Matthias Ahrens and her friend Rosanna Crawford, Bescond bought a plane ticket to Kelowna, British Columbia, and arrived on June 14.
“It was just an easy decision,” Bescond, 29, said during a phone interview. “Because when I am coming in February for the World Cup I find Canmore and Canada people really nice … So, I asked to Matthias and Rosanna if it’s possible to plan to coming during the summer to train a little with the team and it was OK, so good for me.”
Bescond spent the past two weeks training with the Canadian team, taking part in their “Wine Camp” during her first week in Kelowna. With two more weeks of training left alongside her adopted Canadian teammates, Bescond can expect to also partake in the Biathlon Canada’s “Test-ival” — what Crawford described as “the festival of [training] tests” — the crew’s current undertaking this week in Canmore, Alberta.
“With Anais being from France, where they make delicious wine and Kelowna makes delicious wine, it just felt appropriate,” Crawford explained on the phone, referring to the Kelowna training camp name (she said the women also had to compete with the Canadian men’s camp names: “Beast Camp” and “Man Camp”). “We weren’t consuming as much wine as one might think, but we did have a couple glasses.”
This summer, Bescond is one of a several international training partners in Canada. A few members of the Swiss men’s biathlon team, including Benjamin Weger, Serafin Wiestner, and his brother Till Wiestner, are also presently rollerskiing, running and biking in Canmore.
After Wine Camp, the Test-ival and a final week with the Canadian women’s team, Bescond will leave Canada on July 18 and fly to Norway. There, she will train with the Norwegian women’s biathlon team.
“I think what is really interesting for me is to share our different experience about training,” Bescond said. “Spend[ing] time with different people, it’s really instructive I think. With kind people, it’s always nice.”
“We weren’t consuming as much wine as one might think, but we did have a couple glasses.” — Rosanna Crawford, Canadian biathlete, on her team’s ‘Wine Camp’ earlier this month
Crawford, 28, also pointed out that international camaraderie is just as important as international competition. Their training sessions together afforded the two not only a chance for more tête-à-têtes, but also the opportunity to push each other.
“I speak French and we usually stay at a couple of the same hotels throughout the winter, so we’ll have a couple meals together,” Crawford said. “But this is definitely the most time we’ve spent together and we’ve gotten to know each other’s personal lives a little bit more. … The Canadian’s women team has been growing with Julia [Ransom], Emma [Lunder], Sarah [Beaudry] and myself, so having Anaïs train with us creates a nice opportunity to grow as a team and learn from her.”
“There’s so much more to sport than just exercising,” she added. “You spend so much time with these people, it’s important to get along with them.”
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Gabby Naranja considers herself a true Mainer, having grown up in the northern most part of the state playing hockey and roofing houses with her five brothers. She graduated from Bates College where she ran cross-country, track, and nordic skied. She spent this past winter in Europe and is currently in Montana enjoying all that the U.S. northwest has to offer.