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French Olympian training at Olympic Park

Biathlete Anaïs Bescond enjoying week in Whistler

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Anaïs Bescond enjoys training in Canada, but thought she'd visit a different part of the country this year.

The French Olympic biathlete, who won three medals at the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, is in town training with the Whistler Nordic Development Centre (WNDC) at the Whistler Olympic Park to prepare for the upcoming season.

Bescond spent a month in Canmore, Alta. two years ago training with the Canadian national team.

"I liked the atmosphere and environment of Canmore, but I thought I would like to see another place. I discovered Whistler and the Olympic Park. It's new and I'm really happy to train in this place with these nice people," she said.

Bescond said any training she does in the summer would help her tighten up for the 2018-19 campaign, though she noted Canmore provided the added benefit of being a regular on the World Cup circuit while Whistler—at least at this point—is not.

"Maybe (Whistler) will be (a World Cup host) in a few years. It's interesting to have a look," she said.

Reflecting on February's Olympics, Bescond entered the Games with a goal of coming home with hardware, but to take a trio, including gold in the mixed relay and bronzes in the women's relay and individual pursuit, exceeded her expectations.

"I went back with it in my mind to get two medals, one individual and one in relay, so three is huge because (even) two was a little bit pretentious," she said with a chuckle. "Three was very, very surprising and perfect."

Bescond's career also includes seven World Championships medals and an individual World Cup win, but she's never finished a season on the Crystal Globe podium, which is driving her this year.

"One of the kids asked me this morning how I can be hungry again, but I am because I like it and I really love what I'm doing," she said. "I have the goal to be in the top three on the World Cup (tour).

"I have to be really, really strong to do that."

WNDC assistant coach Jessica Blenkarn said having Bescond around has been a major boost for the competitors looking to prepare for the winter season in the gruelling heat.

"This means a lot, especially to the athletes. It's such a great opportunity to have Anais here training with us. The athletes really look up to her, so it brings a lot of inspiration to the team," she said.

The athletes are training 10 to 20 hours a week throughout the summer in conditions that are as close to replicating winter conditions as possible, especially with the opportunity to roller ski into the range, which is rare for Canadian biathlon courses.

"Summer is when you get a lot of really good training hours in, so it's a really important time of year for biathlon," she said.

For her part, Bescond is happy to serve as a resource when she's at the centre, especially as she looks beyond her competitive career.

"I hope they can learn something and I'm really happy to (help them)," she said. "(Coaching) is something I want to do after my career because it's very important to share what I learned during my career."

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