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1994 Lillehammer Olympics: Myriam Bédard

The Story

Initially, Myriam Bédard aimed to sit-spin and triple toe-loop her way into the Olympic record books. But at the age of 12, Bédard realized that figure skating just wasn't for her. Three years later, she competed in her first biathlon and found her niche. Aggressively determined, Bédard demonstrates absolute mastery over biathlon's two components: cross-country skiing and shooting. In Lillehammer, she thrills Canadians with her full-throttle performances and twin gold medals in the 7.5 kilometre and 15K events. She discusses her victory at the 1994 Olympics in this Midday interview. 

Medium: Television
Program: Midday
Broadcast Date: March 2, 1994
Guest: Myriam Bédard
Host: Tina Srebotnjak
Interviewer: Kevin Newman
Duration: 7:26

Did You know?

• Myriam Bédard was born on Dec. 22, 1969, in Ancienne-Lorette, Que.
• Bédard first competed in a local biathlon with her army cadet corps. The plucky 15-year-old borrowed a pair of skis, and balled up tissues to pad the oversized boots. Her team did not win but an exhilarated Bédard had found her new passion.
• Bédard quickly rose through the ranks and gained notice as a reclusive athlete. Using her own savings and securing corporate sponsorships, Bédard trained independently of Biathlon Canada.

• In 1992, Bédard won a bronze medal at the Albertville Winter Olympics. Three months later, Biathlon Canada suspended her from the team. Bédard and the federation battled publicly over her refusal to sign a contract that guaranteed Biathlon Canada a portion of her future endorsements. "More than my sport, it was my personality sponsors were interested in," she told Saturday Night. A mediator eventually settled the dispute with a revised contract.

• Before she competed at the Lillehammer Olympics, Bédard instructed her parents not to cheer too loudly from the sidelines. "I'm too easily distracted by people I know," she told Chatelaine. "I don't even like them yelling encouragement."
• Unlike many competitive athletes, Bédard refused to consult a sports psychologist. "I am my own psychologist," she told Joel Yanofsky of Chatelaine.
• Bédard was the first North American to ever win an Olympic biathlon event.

• During the 7.5km biathlon in Lillehammer in 1994, Bédard realized that she had mistakenly grabbed a pair of mismatched skis. Her left ski, which had not been properly prepared and waxed, proved a bit tricky during the race. But Bédard persevered and outraced Belarus's Svetlana Paramygina by 1.1 seconds.
• In 1995, Bédard gave birth to a daughter Maude.

• In 1997, doctors diagnosed Bédard as suffering from hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome and many food allergies. As her energy levels waned, the possibility of training and competing seemed remote. But Bédard was resolutely determined to compete in the Nagano Olympics. Training by herself, she kayaked, cycled, ran, weight-trained and roller skied.

• Before the Nagano Games, she told Time magazine "I want to go the Olympics again. Maybe I'll make the top 10 this time around, maybe not. The victory rests in just being there." Bédard finished 50th in the 15K biathlon event.
• Bédard retired from competitive sport after the Nagano Olympics. For a time she hosted Radio-Canada's Parents d'Aujourd'hui.

• Bédard made headlines in 2004 after being fired from her marketing job at VIA Rail. Bédard claims she was fired because she asked questions about suspected financial improprieties with the Groupaction Marketing company. At the same time, the Liberal government was investigating allegations of sponsorship patronage. VIA chairman Jean Pelletier denied Bédard's allegations and called her a "pitiable thing who doesn't have a husband." Pelletier was subsequently fired for his comments.

• Bédard subsequently told a parliamentary committee that VIA president Marc LeFrançois advised her to keep quiet because Groupaction was involved in drug trafficking. LeFrançois denied Bédard's allegations.

• In Lillehammer, Canada collected a total of 13 medals. In addition to Myriam Bédard's two gold medals, freestyle skier Jean-Luc Brassard was best in his field. Figure skater Elvis Stojko won silver as did the men's hockey team and freestyle skier Philippe Laroche.

• Also collecting silver: speed skater Susan Auch, short-track speed skater Nathalie Lambert and the women's short-track relay team (Christine Boudrias, Isabelle Charest, Angela Cutrone, Sylvie Daigle and Nathalie Lambert). Alpine skier Edi Podivinsky, figure skaters Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler, freestyle skier Lloyd Langlois and short-track speed skater Marc Gagnon all won bronze medals.



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