May 5, 2014, CANMORE, Alta. (ISN) – Canada’s Megan Imrie is going to hang up her biathlon rifle to start cracking the books at university, and getting her hands dirty on the family ranch, Biathlon Canada announced on Monday.
The 28-year-old Imrie, of Falcon Lake, Man., retires from the National Biathlon Team after having competed for nearly one decade against the top athletes on the World Cup. One of the most respected and likeable athletes on the international circuit also represented Canada at the Sochi and Vancouver Games, along with three World Championships.
“I knew mentally and physically heading into this Olympic season that this would by my final year,” said Imrie. “Embracing that reality was a real spark for me this year. I was relaxed and just had fun. When you are having fun in sport, that is when the results come.”
And they did for the soft-spoken, yet always quotable, Canuck.
Cruising under the radar, and letting her performance do the talking, Imrie enjoyed career-best results. In Sochi, she was the first woman in Canadian history to suit up for an Olympic mass start competition, which is the overall top 30 competitors of the field. Imrie qualified for every competition at the Games, and with her teammates, narrowly missed a relay podium. Earlier in the season, she finished a historic fourth with her teammates in a relay at a World Cup in France.
“Outside of the Olympics, that was the most proud I have ever been wearing the Canadian uniform,” said Imrie. “I have witnessed everyone of my teammates train through blood, sweat and tears to the breaking point. We were underdogs, but very fit this year and hungry for results. We came so close to that podium, but it wasn’t meant to be. I do believe you’ll see the Canadian biathlon women on the World Cup podium again in the very near future.”
“Megan has been a central part of our high performance program over the past two quadrennials. Her positive spirit and fierce determination made her a valuable contributor to our team performance and culture,” said Chris Lindsay, high-performance director, Biathlon Canada.
Results aside, Imrie often found herself in the media spotlight throughout the last Olympic quadrennial, thanks to her creative and edgy fundraising efforts to support her Olympic journey.
One of the most driven athletes as it relates to seeking sponsorship, Imrie and four of her World Cup mates turned heads around the world after peeling their clothes in 2009 to create the hugely successful “Bold, Beautiful, Biathlon” nude calendar. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_55INpkCKE
Significantly underfunded compared to their international competitors, Canada’s top women biathletes developed the plan to aggressively seek additional funding opportunities leading to their home Olympics in Vancouver-Whistler 2010.
Growing up on a family ranch, Imrie was also the daughter of an avid trapper and hunter. As a result, she was a vocal and enthusiastic supporter of the fur trade in Canada throughout her athletic career – an industry she also leaned on for financial support. The Manitoba Trappers Association created a “donate a fur” program so all trappers across the province could invest in her pursuit of excellence. Soon trappers from across North America were supporting her.
“Seeing a competitor from Germany or Norway on the start line felt like a horse race. Only I’m a Shetland pony and they’re a Thoroughbred–you know which one’s going to come out ahead,” said Imrie, who fittingly officially announced her retirement while sharing stories from her Olympic experience in Sochi during a barbecue celebration with about 150 members of the Whiteshell Trappers Association over the weekend.
“The battle for private funding is critical to success as an athlete, but can be difficult and competitive. Understanding this, I felt the need to take risks, be aggressive with fundraising and surround myself with people and organizations that I believe in and support me. Thankfully, I was able to have some success with it. Private fundraising enabled me to have a biathlon career.”
Imrie’s passion for the great outdoors is genuine regardless of the funds raised. She was comfortable in her role as unofficial ambassador for Canada’s fur industry, as well as the World Fur Trade Federation. But in her creative sponsorship trail, Imrie also locked up deals in the boardrooms of a lumberyard, meat and grocery store and a soap company.
“There are so many sponsors, volunteers, retailers, family, friends and members of the Canadian media to thank for my success both on and off the field of play,” said Imrie. “From every coach and Canadian cheering me on alongside the trails to my family, and Biathlon Canada, that has been there for me every step of the way, I am forever grateful. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to wear the Canadian uniform, and represent each of you around the world. It is an honour I will never forget.”
Imrie will pursue pre-veterinary science at the University of Victoria this fall. While never losing sight of the international race scene, she will also continue her passion for riding horses and make up for lost time doing chores on the family ranch.
Biathlon Canada is the governing body for biathlon in the country, and oversees the Canadian Championships, Eastern and Western Canadian Championships, and North American Cups held in Canada. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Millennium Geomatics Ltd., Apogée Sports, Kama, Roeckl Sports, Lapua, USANA, Nordic Marksman Inc, and Adidas Eyewear – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee and Own the Podium, Biathlon Canada’s mandate is to provide national level programs for the continuous development of biathlon athletes from the grassroots to the elite level. For more information on Biathlon Canada, please visit us at www.biathloncanada.ca on the Internet.