Megan Imrie: Amping up for Sochi 2014.

“There’s not a day that I don’t appreciate the support I get from back home. Meeting kids who want to do what I’ve done is the ultimate motivation. I want to train and race for them.”

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Those are the words of Olympic athlete Megan Imrie, who is the definition of a small town girl with big dreams. Born and raised on a ranch at Falcon Lake (Falcon Beach Ranch), Imrie’s work-oriented lifestyle has made her one of the hardest working athletes in the country.

From the early stages of training and competing in the biathlon at Falcon Ridge Ski Area to representing Canada in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Imrie’s determination keeps her climbing steadily to the top. Imrie’s next big step is the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and she’s got the support to back her up. Whether it’s a local fundraiser or some positive verbal support, Imrie is backed up by that small town support many athletes from larger centres only dream of having.

“The support is unparalleled from the community,” said Imrie. “It’s a good feeling to know that I’m connected with people at every level: I know who groomed the ski trails, who held fundraisers for me, who sent me letters of encouragement, who sponsored me or offered advice, who read the newspaper articles, watched the interviews, and otherwise felt like they were a personal part of my journey.

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The Falcon Ridge Ski Area has maintained a well-kept biathlon course as well as a beautiful and scenic cross-country ski trail that have enabled Imrie to learn and progress in the sport. Having to condition herself to compete against those who train in mountainous terrain such as in Alberta and British Columbia, is only one more reason why Imrie pushes herself above and beyond.

“Absolutely it was difficult,” said Imrie. “But with challenge comes opportunity. I did my best to make use of the terrain and infrastructure I had, and make those my strengths. They still are today such as skiing fast on the flats, and being able to do the work even if something’s not perfect. It was also special to be training on my own- I could dictate how my training went day to day based on how I felt that morning. These things aren’t possible when you train with a larger team.”

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Imrie also says that if it wasn’t for the maintained biathlon course provided by Falcon Ridge Ski Area, she would never be where she is today, let alone competing in biathlon.

There’s a small chance that perhaps I would have still competed in x-country skiing, but I’m sure I would have either done competitive running, or maybe even rodeo,” said Imrie. “Falcon Ridge was my own private training centre. I felt it was truly my own playground, and it was what got me started, and then fine tuned enough to join the national team.”

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Imrie recently had a fundraiser at https://pursu.it/campaign/megan-imrie/ to help her get to her next destination. After raising nearly $5,000 over her goal, Imrie has got her eyes focused on Sochi.

“Preparing for Sochi this year is about simplicity. I want to just eat, sleep, and train. In order to do that, funding was an issue, which is how pursu.it came about,” said Imrie. “Now that I’ve raised the money – I can relax and just focus 100% on being healthy so I can put everything I have into being a better athlete each day. My days are filled to the brim as it is, so now that the funding is out of the way, I feel much better about the winter. I train about six hours each day, then make time to make meals, nap, dry fire (indoor shooting training), stretch and do yoga, get massage or physio, and try to have some time to myself. It’s jam packed!”

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Imrie is now two-thirds of the way to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, and to qualify she needs to place in the top 30 in the World Cup in December, which  should be a breeze for the Falcon Lake athlete. Imrie is now focusing everything on skiing and shooting in order to qualify for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Let’s help send Falcon Lake to Russia! Share your support for Megan Imrie on Experience the Whiteshell as she prepares for another Olympic season.

– Marney

Riding the Storm.

Storms at the lake: Some find them thrilling, some find them beautiful, some find them scary.

However you feel about them, Mother Nature put on a crazy storm in the Whiteshell last night. Here’s some shots as it drifted past Caddy Lake.

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If you have taken any great storm photos or footage from the Whiteshell, we’d love to see them! Send your photos to whiteshell.lakes@gmail.com

– Photos by Marney Blunt

Whiteshell Through the Lens: Anne Klassen Wildlife Photography

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Whether it’s a bald eagle soaring through a bluebird sky, a wolf running across a frozen snow-covered lake, or three tiny black bear cubs scrambling up a tree, the breathtaking photo opportunities in the Whiteshell Provincial Park are second to none. If there’s anyone who knows how to capture these moments through a camera lens, it’s Manitoba wildlife photographer Anne Klassen.

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Anne Klassen’s passion lies in tracking down different forms of wildlife for the perfect photo opportunity. The self taught photographer got into wildlife photography as a hobby about 15 years ago, although she’s had a strong interest in it her entire life.

The Whiteshell Provincial Park is Klassen’s #1hotspot to capture these once-in-a-lifetime moments. While she isn’t a cottager in the Whiteshell, Klassen always stops in year round’ to visit her favourite remote photography locations. Dressed in camouflage and sitting in a blind for hours on end, Klassen finds tracks these photo opportunities much like a hunter, except the only shooting going on is through a camera lens.

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Out of all the wildlife Klassen has come into close contact with, her all-time favourite animal to photograph are black bears in the Whiteshell. You may have seen some of Klassen’s black bear photography prints available for purchase at Keystone Resort in West Hawk Lake. If you are interested in purchasing any prints of Klassen’s photos, give her a call at 1-(204)-224-5188 or send her an e-mail at chico@mts.net.

 Experience the Whiteshell  will be showcasing Klassen’s work in our ‘Wildlife of the Month’ feature. Be sure to check back each month to see what incredible moment in the Whiteshell this wildlife photographer has captured.

Article by Marney Blunt, Experience the Whiteshell editor.