OSLO, Norway—Julia Ransom had been mulling over retirement from elite sport for at least two years.
That’s even though the Canadian is just 25 years old. She collected two top-ten results this year, in the 15 k individual in Östersund, Sweden, and the 7.5 k sprint in Oberhof, Germany.
“I definitely played with the idea for the last year or two — to end with the Olympics,” she explained after today’s pursuit in Oslo. “I’d say going into this year, I had the idea that I’ll retire unless I felt very strongly. This was a reassessment point I guess. I was just going to sit with the idea of retiring for the last couple of months, and if it felt right then I’d do it.”
As the season wore on, Ransom decided that it was the right time to go. So the pursuit was her last international competition.
“It’s just a good time for my partner and I to kind of move on,” she said. “And it does feel right. It feels right.”
In the pursuit, Ransom had four penalties and finished 51st. It wasn’t a great race, but she was still happy.
“I’ve had better pursuits, but it was — I just had fun the whole time,” she said. “I was smiling, I had my friends on the track, I had the girls around me. It was just awesome. I had a lot of fun.”
Among other notable retirements is French star Marie Dorin Habert. As she crossed the finish line in 20th place, her teammates – France had put five women in the pursuit – mobbed her, and then showered her with champagne.
When Ransom crossed the finish line together with teammate Rosanna Crawford, her teammates had also prepared some champagne.
The French and Canadian teams are very close, and the two celebrations merged into one. Neither Dorin Habert nor the Canadians will compete next weekend in Tyumen, Russia, and there were lots of teary but laughing hugs.
“Oh gosh, we’ll be friends forever,” Ransom said of the teammates who will keep competing next year without her. “We’ll always be tight. I’ve know them since I was really little, and they’re my best buddies.”
Dorin Habert and Ransom had both chosen a favorite place to have their last races.
“I can’t complain — it’s my favorite place in the world,” Ransom said.
Crawford isn’t sure yet whether she will retire or not, but said that she would most likely be racing next season.
“It almost would be nice to just retire now so I don’t have to go through all the sadness that Julia did,” Crawford said. “But there is probably a pretty high chance I’ll do one more year.”
Ransom is headed back to school, so she already has her post-biathlon career planned.
“I am enrolled at UBC Okanagan for sciences,” she said. “So that’s going to be something. And my goal is to go into dentistry. Or medicine, I‘m still going back and forth. But that’s that. I‘m going to move to Penticton, going back to my hometown…. have got approximately eight to twelve years of school ahead of me.”
The first thing she’ll do this spring? Something on the list of activities that was discouraged while she was an athlete, to avoid injuries.
“I think the first thing I’m going to do is go downhill biking,” she laughed. “Really doing the things I wasn’t allowed to.”
— Harald Zimmer contributed