The Lou Marsh Legacy - Honouring Canada's Top Athletes

Myriam Bedard

Biathlon

1994


Photograph of biathlete Myriam Bedard

Photograph of biathlete Myriam Bedard

Date
1994
Collection
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Arborite Countertops, Old Shirts and 2 Gold Medals!

Give Myriam Bédard of Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec, full credit. In a rather unique sport, she did it her way –– and she nailed it.

Biathlon combines competitive cross-country skiing and small-bore rifle marksmanship. The first requires intense full-out physical exertion, while shooting demands extremely fine control and cool precision. The clock is running when a biathlete arrives at the shooting range with a racing heartbeat and burning lungs. Missed targets result in costly penalties.

Myriam was a definite favourite coming into the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. She brought home an Olympic bronze medal in the 15km individual event from Albertville, France in 1992, the first year women were allowed to compete in Biathlon. She followed that up with a World Biathlon Championship gold medal in 1993.

Bédard chose to prepare for Lillehammer in relative isolation. When she found the sport as a 15 year old army cadet she was forced to train alone because there were few others competing. She began to thrive on the solitary nature of her activity. The sport’s governing body wanted to have more control over her preparation, after all she was one of Canada’s hopefuls. She would have no part of it.

Her singular focus was to peak at Lillehammer. She constantly brushed aside the naysayers after mediocre results in World Cup events in the run-up to Lillehammer. Little did they know that she was pulling out all the stops in her training regimen.

Myriam Bédard knew that supreme upper body strength would make the difference at the long gradual uphill finishes at the Birkebeineren Ski Stadium. She installed a weight room in her basement and often kayaked to exhaustion. She strapped on roller skis to complete hundreds of time-trials around a two kilometre loop to gauge her aerobic fitness. She even had her boyfriend build a ski simulator from a twelve foot arborite countertop purchased at a junkyard for $40.00. She fashioned cloth shoes made from her father’s old shirts so that she could spend countless hours sliding through a perfect x-c skiing motion on the old kitchen countertop.

She completely isolated herself one month before the 1994 Olympic Games and was considered a hermit in the Olympic Village. Her approach would face its ultimate test.

She delivered a stunning victory in the 15km individual event and then staged a thrilling comeback from two 150 metre penalty loops and a 16 second deficit late in the 7.5km sprint – thanks to a massive upper-body push through that last uphill kilometre.

Myriam Bédard earned the distinction of being both the first Canadian woman to win two Olympic gold medals, as well as the first North American athlete to win gold in an Olympic biathlon event. Sometimes the athlete knows best!

Bedard’s style always popular Adobe PDF Transcript


Highlights

1991
World Cup biathlon - first Canadian to win this event
1991
Finished 2nd overall in the season, the highest World Cup ranking by a North
1992
Albertville Olympic Games - Bronze medal in 15km, first ever Canadian Olympic
1993
World Biathlon Championships in Borovets, Bulgaria - Gold medal in 7.5km and
1994
Lillehammer Olympics Games - 2 Gold medals in 15km and 7.5 km
1994
Lou Marsh Memorial Award
1996
World Cup in Austria, Hochfilzen - Silver medal in 15km
1996
Valcartier Canadian Championships – first place in 15km and 7.5 km
2004
Inducted into Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame