When Jed Mitchell found out that the Arctic Winter Games were cancelled, he worried that his hard work over the last six months was for nothing.
The games would have been this upcoming weekend, but on Saturday officials announced the games were off due to concerns over the novel coronavirus.
The 15-year-old snowshoe biathlete said he has been practicing the sport for about six hours every weekend since mid-October, along with cardio training three days a week.
“It just feels like half a year of training went to waste,” Mitchell said on Saturday night. “I still get fit and everything but the shooting and biathlon part, I don’t really use in any other part of my life.”
The important thing is to give them a minute to just be sad.– Tracey Bilsky, Sport Yukon’s sports psychologist
About 2,000 athletes, organizers, parents, coaches, and volunteers from around the world would have been in Whitehorse for the circumpolar sporting competition on March 15.
‘Isn’t for nothing’
Former Olympic and Arctic Winter Games biathlete, Brendan Green, said he empathizes with what the athletes are going through. He reminded the athletes that there is a positive spin on the tough situation.
“The athletes have to realize … that the hard work and training that they did put in isn’t for nothing. I can guarantee that every athlete has improved their skill and fitness.”
He also said the injuries and setbacks he faced, ultimately helped him to grow into a better and stronger athlete.
“Try not to be discouraged and setbacks do happen. There’s going to be other opportunities down the road.”
Be patient, give it time
Tracey Bilsky, a sports psychologist and the executive director of Sport Yukon, said she was disappointed with how the news was announced.
Just last week, officials with the games said they were taking all necessary precautions to avoid a COVID-19 outbreak in Whitehorse, and the risk was low.
“When they had no warning and something like that, something so important to them that is so close and it’s culminating from all of this training … it’s just such a sense of shock.”
Her advice for parents of the athletes, is to give them time to process those feelings.
“The important thing is to give them a minute to just be sad, and a lot of times it’s best done with others who are in the same situation as them.”
In an interview on Monday, Mitchell said he has been doing just that — processing the announcement with the support of teammates and trying to stay positive.
“I was trying to just make them understand that … it sucks and it’s unfair, but it’s the decision and there’s not much we can do about it. And at the end of the day, they think this is the best decision for everyone.”