Growing up the daughter of a forest hydrologist in northern British Columbia, logging trucks become your daycare and work camp projects often double as science projects. So it comes as no surprise the tales of young Sarah Beaudry differ from her peers.
“On one trip with me, my dad and my brother, we had to build a weather station,” she said. “There was a mine being built near Vanderhoof, and my dad was hired on the hydrology section. The client was a company in Edmonton. There were no instructions with the weather station, and we didn't know what we were doing, at all. The bugs were so thick, you couldn't see. We worked all day on it, had dinner, and went back out. My brother forgot to put the breaks on the quad, and it backed right into my Dad's new truck. It still has the dent.”
Bumpy logging roads and black flies aside, Beaudry loved the outdoors with her family. Her parents were heavily involved in the sports scene, so when she took up biathlon at age 12, it was no surprise when she excelled.
Prince George invested heavily in sport, and Beaudry said the sport infrastructure helped her progress. That only continued once she moved to Canmore to train with the Biathlon Alberta Training Centre.
“The BATC was the missing step between junior clubs and the national team. Training with (Richard Boruta) added that next level we needed,” Beaudry said.
Her cedar-sized personality has made her a popular teammate. Beaudry's baking is legendary in Canmore, as are her homemade race suits. Yet her good nature, smashing sense of humour and big heart often overshadow the fact she is one hell of a biathlete.
Her accolades are numerous, including a bronze medal in the pursuit at the 2014 World Junior Championships, and a 23rd-place world cup finish this season. Making her Olympic debut at 23 means she has a long career ahead, as she is part of Canada's next generation, along with her longtime friends and competitors Emma Lunder and Julia Ransom. All three started racing each other at 12, and have now reached the sport's pinnacle together.
She still makes time for her other passions.
“I definitely really enjoy baking and sewing. That was instilled from my mother at a very young age. She was always sewing clothing, doing repairs or making Halloween costumes. There was always a 50 per cent off buttons bin, and I was allowed to pick my favourite and sew it on my quilt.”
She made her first race suit in 2007 – an unmistakable pink floral suit, which immediately turned heads on the racetrack. In a sport where race suit means two colours, Beaudry's technicolour tights, made out of old swimsuit fabric, caught the attention of her idol in the sport.
“It's just fun. That year I wanted to wear it at a NorAm race. My brother said ‘don't wear it. It's stupid.' But I remember Rosanna Crawford was the older athlete there to give out medals. I still remember, she said ‘this medal goes to Sarah Beaudry, who's wearing the coolest suit.' I thought, Oh my God, Rosanna thinks my suit is cool. I remember it was cool. You can't tell me it wasn't cool.”
She's evolved from Crawford fan girl to teammate.
“Rosanna has been a super awesome teammate. She's definitely stepped up as team mom. She has so much more wisdom than the rest of us, and is always giving us advice here and there. She walked me through the ropes, kind of taking me step by step, how to do this,” Beaudry said.
The past year has been her toughest in the sport, as she's faced strife on and away from the course.
“The whole year from January ... did not go great. I found out my dad had a brain tumour. My season continued, but it didn't go well,” she said.
“That allowed me to be where I wanted to be, to fly to Vancouver for his surgery. That was in no way easy. Then losing Richard (Boruta, Sarah's first Canmore coach) ... Even though I didn't work with Richard one on one every day any more, he was always there. He would give advice, or make a funny joke. It's hard not having that solid rock on the range. You really see how much someone can bring people together.”
Her father is recovering, her results improved and it's now dawning on her that she's reaching the top of her sport.
“Olympics definitely wasn't something I said ‘I had to go' when I was younger. When I started it was for fun. You shoot clean, you get a Mars bar. That was cool. As you get older, it becomes possible,” Beaudry said.