Niven takes on the newly created role of Nordic Sports coach
Lowell Niven is a long-time resident of Camrose and a familiar face at Augustana. He has been a student-athlete, head coach of the Augustana Vikings biathlon team and team leader of the Canadian Biathlon Team in the 2015 Winter Universiade in Slovakia.
How did you first get into Nordic Sports?
I started skiing when I was ten or eleven years old, I grew up just down the street from the university. Gary Gibson and Hans Skinstad coached me and it was an easy walk to the university every day so that’s how it started.
How is your new position as head coach of Nordic Sports different from your previous role?
Well, I’m looking after both Nordic Sports, so cross country skiing and biathlon, before I was just looking after biathlon. It’s been a little bit of a challenge just to get used to that new role, but I think that it’s coming together quite nicely.
What sort of challenges have you faced in your new role that you had not encountered in your previous role?
We combine practices a little more now, so facilitating both of those teams into one practice has been a little bit of a challenge.
Can you tell us about your experience in Slovakia last year?
Slovakia was a fantastic experience. For university athletes, it’s probably the biggest sporting event next to the Olympics that they will ever go to. It was well organized and the conditions were very challenging. We saw every possible skiing condition so that made our lives difficult as coaches and difficult for athletes because they were skiing in absolute everything from slush to pure ice to big chunky snowflakes. It was a good experience, the organizing committee did a fantastic job.
Can you tell us about your expanded role for the 2017 university games?
We’re going to Kazakhstan for the World University Games in Almadi. It starts at the end of January  and we’re there until the first week of February , basically, it’s exactly the same as the last university games that I’ve been to. This year it’ll be a little bit different, there is an actual athletes village so that’ll be an interesting experience for me as a coach and for the athletes because they haven’t had the experience with close to 600-800 athletes and coaches.
In what other university games have you participated?
Italy in 2013, Slovakia in 2015 and the upcoming Kazakhstan games in 2017.
In your opinion, what makes Augustana a hot spot for Nordic Sports?
We’ve been a Nordic community for a long time, and I think that people know that there is an opportunity to come here. We’ve had lots of athletes come through our program and ski with the national teams or go on to coach at different levels throughout Canada. It’s a really great program, to have people, athletes, come through and have the entire experience of being a student-athlete and managing both aspects.