NNSL Photo/Graphic

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Warrior spirit sees Lennie through
Fort Simpson shooter makes biathlon team for Arctic Winter Games

April Hudson
Northern News Services
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Despite a leg injury, Fort Simpson student Sky Lennie has battled her way to a spot on the territorial snowshoe biathlon team, destined for Greenland in March.

NNSL photo/graphic

Sky Lennie will represent the Deh Cho at the Arctic Winter Games in Greenland in March. Lennie was selected for snowshoe biathlon after impressing her instructors with her shooting skills. - April Hudson/NNSL photo

Lennie, 15, attended biathlon trials in Hay River in December.

She originally sought to compete in ski biathlon but injured her ankle while skiing down a hill at the trials.

However, instructors were so impressed with her shooting skills they offered her a spot on the snowshoe biathlon team.

"It was a good feeling," Lennie said, adding she thought it was over for her after she injured herself.

Cadet Capt. Steve Nicoll, who has trained Lennie in shooting, said she refused to stop even though she was injured.

"She was really willing to push herself and not give up," he said.

"(The instructors) said, 'That's our girl.' "

Acceptance onto the snowshoe team brings its own challenges. Lennie said she hasn't snowshoed since elementary school, and although she's a good runner she knows she needs to hit the snow hard over the next six weeks before the games begin.

"I don't know how long I can (run) for, but I want to try to find out. That's what I'm working on now," she said.

"I need to learn not to pick my foot up as much and just keeping it down so I don't tire out my calf muscles. There are some tricks to snowshoeing."

As for her shooting, Lennie is confident in her skills - although she still plans to hit the range regularly to keep in practice.

Lennie's interest in marksmanship developed through her involvement with Fort Simpson Cadets. She now has years of practice under her belt as well as experience at marksmanship and biathlon competitions.

"(Cadets) is where it all started for me," she said.

Nicoll, who leads the cadets, said he was not surprised to find out Lennie had made the team for Arctic Winter Games.

"She's a hard worker and she's dependable, so she shows up. She has a lot of maturity and all of these things allow me to speed her training," he said.

"She's a great role model. All around, this is a kid I really feel is worth the investment of time and effort because she'll equal your investment. I really feel she's got everything it takes to succeed."

Her shooting skills have set a precedent for younger cadets, Nicoll said, adding that Lennie's tight groupings give other shooters an example to aspire to.

Lennie will be practising with a .22-calibre rifle, which is what she will shoot with at the games. During the games, she will be shooting a distance of 50 metres at drop-down reactive targets.

Aside from competing, Lennie said she is looking forward to meeting new people.

"That's the big one. As for heading to Greenland, I'm not too sure," she said.

"I haven't really looked up Greenland yet; I just want to surprise myself."

The Arctic Winter Games run from March 6 to 11.

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