The BC Championships for Biathlon were hosted by the Telemark Nordic Ski Club in West Kelowna March 1-3, 2019. Fifteen athletes from the Vancouver Island Biathlon Club attended the event and had great success over the weekend, placing among the top finishers in all categories.
Biathlon is a challenging sport as it combines the speed and endurance of cross-country skiing with the skating technique, and the technical precision of shooting .22 caliber rifles at 50 meter targets.
On Saturday was the Sprint Race format, which combines three laps of skiing with two bouts of shooting. The shooting is done in the prone position for those up to age 14, and a combination of prone and standing positions for 15 years and up. On Sunday, the race format was a Modified Pursuit with three or four bouts of shooting and four or five skiing laps depending on the category. This race format is certainly a high adrenaline experience and a terrific spectator activity as the athletes start in their finish order from the Sprint race, and work hard to ‘pursue’ the competitors ahead of them to the finish line.
Senior Girl, Allison Joyce (Campbell River) placed fifth in the Sprint, but really stepped up her skiing and shooting for the Pursuit, earning her a spectacular Gold medal finish.
Gavin Johnston (Campbell River), raced in the large and very competitive Senior Boys category. He was the top shooter amongst 18 competitors for the weekend races. Johnston finished seventh in the Sprint, and fifth in the Pursuit.
Both Joyce and Johnston have also met the qualifications this season to maintain their spots on the BC Team, as well as qualifying to compete at Nationals which will be held at the Whistler Olympic Park in the last week of March. Robbie McKay (Port Alberni) also raced in the Senior Boys category and showed great improvement in his racing over the past year.
In the Youth Men category, Joe Winkelaar (Comox) had two podium finishes. With an outstanding 100 per cent shooting accuracy in the Sprint race, he earned a Silver medal, and in the Pursuit he finished with a Bronze.
For their BC Cup debut, Gwenyth and Tobin Kerr (Comox) raced in the Mixed Midget category and proved their love of the sport of Biathlon. Gwenyth shot with 100 per cent accuracy in both races, and Tobin 95 per cent. Tobin placed third overall in both races, and Gwenyth, 6th.
In the Masters 35-50 category, Christoph Dettling (Victoria) brought home a Bronze medal for the Sprint race and a Gold for the Pursuit. Also in this this category were Jonathan Kerr (Comox) who placed fifth in the Sprint and eighth in the Pursuit, and Phil Douglas (Comox) with eighth and sixth place finishes. All three of these athletes finished strong enough in their category to qualify to attend Nationals.
The Masters 50+ category had Glenn Rupertus (Courtenay) bringing home two Silver medals, and Mike Akey (Quadra Is.) bring home two Bronze. Both these athletes will also be competing at Nationals. With great determination, Blair Pettis (Comox) followed with two fifth place finishes, and Michael Cullen (Comox) with seventh and sixth place finishes.
Another Gold medal finish was earned in the Sport Women category by Karen Funk (Victoria) in the Sprint race. She then raced to a Bronze finish in the Rec category for the Pursuit. Lyndsey Douglas (Comox) proved her stamina in the Sprint Race Rec category with a Bronze finish.
Coach Don Johnston was thrilled to support this team of athletes to such a successful result this weekend.
“With 14 podium finishes in 30 races, our team has really proved the success of our growing programs in the Vancouver Island Biathlon Club,” he said. “The team worked really well together, always supporting each other. The athletes have trained hard, remained focused and achieved fantastic results. It will be wonderful to have seven athletes representing the Vancouver Island Biathlon Club and British Columbia at Nationals this year.”
The Vancouver Island Biathlon Club will be hosting a Snowshoe Biathlon Relay Event on Saturday April 6 at Mt. Washington Alpine Resort. The event is open to anyone 10 years and up, no experience necessary. Following safety training and shooting instruction, teams of four will compete on a short snowshoe course near the range. After the race there will be awards, BBQ with no host bar, and social event at the Vancouver Island Mountain Center. To learn more about this event, please check out https://vibiathlon.ca/wp/events/.
Other information about Summer Mountain Biking Biathlon races or Winter Programming for ages 8 and up is also available on the website.