PROFILE — 13-year-old record-breaking archer competes at Arctic Winter Games

Story by CBC Kids News • Published 2023-02-02 07:00

Week-long event brings thousands of youth athletes together


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Name

Sophia Elder

Hometown

Formerly of Alberta, now of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Age

13

Claim to fame:

For Sophia Elder, archery is all about visualization.

Before she shoots an arrow, she imagines herself as a steady tree with roots planted into the ground. Breathing steady, feet planted, eyes focused.

“I visualize the arrow going in and I visualize the steps that I have to take for it to go in the target,” she says.

She takes a deep breath, pulls back the bow, releases the string and the arrow soars through the air.

It lands perfectly on her target and Sophia celebrates.

In just over two years of taking part in the sport, the 13-year-old has broken 13 archery records — one for every year she’s been alive.

“It’s similar to the feeling of flying,” she tells CBC Kids News.

Where it all began

Two and a half years ago, Sophia was looking for new activities to fill her free time.

A young girl wearing a red shirt that says “Archery Canada” on it has her left eye closed as she draws back her bow and arrow.

Focus, then fire your arrow! Sophia Elder began her archery training two years ago. (Image credit: Natalie Pressman/CBC)

Inspired by TV show The 100 and movies like The Hunger Games and Brave, Sophia knew she had to give archery a try.

“It just seemed very cool; a big brag is like, ‘Hey, I do archery,’” she said to CBC Kids News.

Now Sophia even works on archery with her dad Shane, who is a fan and a judge of the sport.

Two men smile at the camera in an athletic gym.

In Sophia’s corner are her dad Shane Elder, left, and her coach, Cheuk Pang, right. (Image credit: Natalie Pressman/CBC)

Competing at the Arctic Winter Games

This year, Sophia is competing at the Arctic Winter Games in Wood Buffalo, Alberta, which began on Jan. 29.

She is one of eight archers who are representing the Northwest Territories.

Although she is a new resident, she told CBC Kids News she is excited to represent the territories and meet with other northern and Arctic kids who are competing.

Plus, all the athletes get to trade colourful and unique regional pins, which is something Sophia compares to trading cards.

Picture on left: many people in brightly coloured shirts mingle in a gym. Right: A young girl holds a string of pins on a lanyard and stares at the camera.

On the left, Sophia snapped this photo of the hundreds of athletes competing in the Arctic Winter Games. Right, Sophia poses with her pin collection. (Images submitted by Sophia Elder)

Sophia said the vibes at the Arctic Winter Games are fun and friendly, with lots of cheering for fellow athletes.

“We always support each other,” said Sophia.

“We cheer [competitors] on … and we still say, ‘That was a great shot!’”

Eyes on the prize

Sophia is set to compete throughout the next week, ending with a championship on Feb. 4.

She credits her coach Cheuk Pang with helping her stay positive and to focus on the fun of playing.

Pictured on left: An older man and a young girl holding an archery bow look at the camera. Pictured on the right: An athletic course where you can see fake grass, netting and several chairs set up.

Right, Sophia and her coach Cheuk Pang pose at the Arctic Winter Games. Left, the archery site where Sophia will be competing. (Images submitted by Sophia Elder)

After the Arctic Winter Games, Sophia hopes to eventually compete in the Pan American Games or Olympic events.

She’s not sure if archery will be forever and is considering going to school for accounting, or maybe law.

For now, she loves the sport and encourages other kids to try it.

“I would say just go for it!” says Sophia.

“And like when you're starting, just do what feels right and then you can get more into the technical things. Don't focus on the shots, focus on the consistency.”

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With files from Natalie Pressman/CBC
TOP IMAGE CREDIT: Natalie Pressman/CBC, graphic design by Philip Street/CBC