If Biathlon Canada were to design its own T-1000 style athlete android, it would do well to mimic the mind of Christian Gow.
The man eats, breaths and sleeps biathlon. Over team breakfasts, he and older brother Scott devour biathlon numbers, delving deep into shooting statistics, ski speed and favoured venues.
He knows who is most likely to miss their first target, and who is most likely to miss their last. The banter may drive their teammates bonkers, but Christian sees it as part of his job.
“I see it as my due diligence to look at all the stats. You see a comparison of your improvement over the years. It’s something I’m interested in, anyway. You are racing these people, so you pour over their stats and see what they can do,” said Gow, who views the study as a way to crush his weaknesses.
“If the stats show there is something I can address, then there is something to work on. It’s not a source of concern … it’s all trainable. By being able to do that, it can be more beneficial.”
The focus is something Gow has always carried with him. Growing up, he was likely the only kid in Canada with an Ole Einer Bjorndalen poster over his bed. When his family took him to the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, the dye was cast: he was determined to become an Olympian and he dutifully started chasing his older brother Scott, who was identified as one of Canada’s top prospects at an early age.
“It almost comes naturally how far I’ve come in the sport. It just seemed the natural thing to do,” Gow said. “Getting to the Olympics would be the culmination of an entire career. When I started this sport, I was nine. I said to myself ‘I want to go to the Olympics.’ It’s a lifelong dream.”
You can’t argue with his results. Gow has had a breakout season, cracking the top-30 six times this year and recording a series of personal bests, including two 21st-place finishes. At 24, he already has a world championship medal, as he was part of Canada’s surprise 2015 relay team, which won bronze. It’s no wonder his confidence brims.
“Honestly, that was more than validation for all the hard work we put in. It was very unexpected. A world championship medal is something you can go your entire career without. It was almost beyond my dreams that we won one,” Gow said.
Even his spare time, Gow is focused on biathlon. Sharing the world cup tour with his brother Scott and girlfriend Emma Lunder, he’s never far away from the sport. Articulate, talented and brimming with confidence, Gow is the self-proclaimed Gears of War Xbox champion on the team, and last year poured through Conn Iggulden’s historical fiction tomes on Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan.
“Reading about those guys, it’s amazing what they accomplished. The stories are written as historical fiction, but it gives you an idea of how they must have carried themselves to be so successful. The books make you realize they have positive attributes to their character,” Gow said.
Lessons from conquerors past are ones he believes help him in his sport as well.
“Confidence is a huge one – a deep-seeded belief that you can achieve your goals, no matter what,” Gow said.