2016’s first B.C. Cup competition for biathlon took place at the Nechako Valley Sporting Association’s ski trails this weekend.
Nearly 70 athletes from Vanderhoof, Prince George, Quesnel, Smithers, Burns Lake, as well as Rossland in the Kootenay region and the Lower Mainland attended the two-day event of cross-country skiing and shooting.
Including young athletes from age eight to older competitors aged over 50, it’s also the first out of three selection races for teams competing in national championships in March, said Paul Collard, director of NVSA.
Seven boys and girls in total from Vanderhoof’s Nechako Nordics Club participated in individual and sprint races on Saturday and Sunday respectively: Cody Vanwerkhoven, Connor Ebert, Zachary Whitecotton, Nicole McBride, Kyla Vanwerkhoven, Linnea Moutray, and Sara McBride.
Involving the mastery of slow breathing and control while shooting, as well as endurance and speed while skiing, biathlon athletes benefit from starting young when learning how to shoot, said Sheldon Clare, 2015 Canada Winter Games’s sport information officer for biathlon.
“They can learn to better quickly,” Clare said, adding that oftentimes good skiers are enlisted to learn to shoot in order to join biathlon.
For competitor Liam Connon, 13, from Prince George, the challenge of skiing and shooting is enjoyable, though he likes skiing more, he said.
Started training for biathlon when he was 10, Connon qualified to compete in the upcoming BC Winter Games, which will take place in Penticton in Februrary.
“Last time it happened, I wasn’t old enough,” Connon said. “I’m really excited…there’s some people who are really fast that I have to compete against.”
Along with races in the winter, Connon currently trains in the summer by roller-skiing, running, as well as exercising in core strength sessions, he said.
Results of Vanderhoof’s Nechako Nordics Club
Saturday individual events:
*All shooting is done prone, with each miss adding one minute to the competitor’s final time for rankings.
Cody Vanwerkhoven won third place in the juvenile category, skiing four kilometres in 18 minutes and 39 seconds, with five misses.
In the junior boys category, Connor Ebert won seventh place, skiing six kilometres in 30 minutes and eight seconds, with seven misses.
Zachary Whitecotton, at ninth place, finished the race in 33 minutes and 49 seconds, with 10 misses.
In the junior girls category, Nicole McBride won third place, skiing six kilometres in 32 minutes and five seconds, with eight misses.
Kyla Vanwerkhoven followed in fifth place, with 34 minutes and 24 seconds and seven misses.
Linnea Moutray, ranked sixth, finished the race with 33 minutes and 25 seconds, but had nine misses.
Sunday sprint events:
*For each missed shot, competitors ski a penalty loop of 75 or 150 metres, depending on the category
Cody Vanwerkhoven won fourth place in the juvenile category, skiing three kilometres and five penalty loops in 15 minutes and 13 seconds.
In the junior boys category, Connor Ebert was placed eighth, skiing 4.5 kilometres and seven penalty loops in 25 minutes and 58 seconds.
Zachary Whitecotton followed in ninth place, skiing with seven penalty loops as well in 27 minutes and 13 seconds.
In the junior girls category, Nicole McBride finished fourth place, skiing 4.5 kilometres with five penalty loops in 24 inures and 38 seconds.
Linnea Moutray followed in fifth place with 26 minutes and 13 seconds, including six penalty loops.
Kyla Vanwerkhoven was placed sixth at 29 minutes and 22 seconds, including seven penalty loops.
Sara McBride was the sole competitor in the youth women category, skiing six kilometres in 35 minutes and eight seconds, with eight misses in shooting prone and standing.