CANMORE – He has been a part of some of the biggest moments in Canadian biathlon history, and now, Scott Gow is ending things on a high note.
Following one of the best Olympic performances ever by a Canadian biathlete, the two-time Olympian and world championship medallist has retired after 11 seasons on the senior national team.
“It just feels like it’s time,” said Gow, 31. “I had that foot surgery a little while ago, a couple years now, and it’s pretty good, but it’s always nagging and it’s always kind of bare and bothers me a little bit, so I think that was part of it. I think, also, I do kind of feel like I want to start moving on and go to school and work on and build a ‘real world career’, outside of sport.”
Feeling fortunate to close out his career favourably, historic moments seemed to grab hold of Gow and go along for the ride throughout the years.
Competing at the PyeongChang and Beijing Games, at the latter Gow put on a shooting and ski spectacle for everyone back home glued to their TV and computer screens at 2 a.m.
On the range, he was in and out like a blur, rapidly gunning down targets and off for another lap on the newly created biathlon course. Fighting for a podium spot, he was just one shot away from a silver medal in the 20-kilometre individual, shooting 19-for-20 and placing fifth – the best-ever result for a Canadian in individual.
A few days later, the Canadian men’s relay team of Gow, younger brother Christian, Adam Runnalls, and Jules Burnotte finished in sixth place, an Olympic-best result for the men, beating Canada’s previous top record of seventh place at Sochi 2014.
“I think we had potential for a medal, like, we had a potential all year, but sixth was really good and I think our team was really happy with that,” said Gow.
It’s not the only time Gow’s been part of a relay team that shook things up on the world stage.
At the 2016 world championships, the biggest competition in non-Olympic seasons, the Canadian men’s relay team of Gow, Christian, Nathan Smith and Brendan Green made national biathlon history with a bronze medal performance. It was Canada’s first and only men’s relay medal at worlds.
Both Gow brothers looked back at that “as an experience of a lifetime,” as 100,000 fans in Oslo, Norway cheered as they were presented with medals.
“That was awesome and it does feel really nice to stand on the podium in an event and to do it at world champs was really special,” said Gow.
At the world cup, Gow shot and skied to a career-best fourth place at a sweet 20-kilometre in Sweden in November 2021. It beat out his previous best world cup result of 10th, at the same venue, about eight months prior.
Gow started biathlon at a young age after discovering the sport during a summer camp at Calgary Olympic Park.
That day, he later found out that Christian also signed up for biathlon and they were both going to give the sport that combines cross-country skiing and target shooting a go.
“At the end of the year when it was official and Scott announced his retirement then it really sunk in,” said Christian. “It’s an emotional moment because we’ve been doing this together for 20 years and we’ve shared every single part of this journey together, every single milestone, every achievement, every loss. And we’ve really just done it all together.”
Looking back at a career of memories, the bronze at the worlds is the best memory from a racing standpoint. However, it's always been the little things that stand out the most.
“There’s always just these small moments that had no big meaning attached to them at all, but that’s what I remember when I think about our career and all the time we got to spend together and just the two of us," said Christian.
Gow echoed his brother’s statement.
“We do a lot of travelling and training camps together and there's just a lot of fun things happening over the years, so those are like the best memories. And there’s some good racing memories in there, too, so it’s a good split."
Gearing up for a very different fall with a lot fewer ski trails and a lot more books, Gow is registered at the University of Calgary for Kinesiology.
"From there, I have to decide – I haven’t figured it out 100 per cent yet, but I’ll probably apply to med school and see if I can get in," Gow said. "If not that, I would go to maybe like physiotherapy or work on like strength and conditioning, physiologist kind of stuff, somewhere in that kinesiology realm."
Although he won't stop skiing entirely, Gow said he's looking forward to being a fair-weather skier when conditions are perfect.
“I had a really good career,” said Gow. “I’m really happy with the way it played out and anyone I worked with either as a coach, or a volunteer or even as former teammates, it’s been a pleasure working with everyone and I really enjoyed all my years doing biathlon. I want to thank everyone who’s helped make it such a great experience and for helping me get to the level I was able to get to.”