Sylvie Johnston of Campbell River

CR biathletes compete at provincials

Seven racers from Vancouver Island Biathlon Club persevered in trying weather conditions at the BC Biathlon Championships at Whistler Olympic Park Feb. 12-14.

Biathlon combines the physical challenge of the cross country skiing skating technique with the precision marksmanship skills of shooting .22-caliber rifles, alternating laps of skiing with bouts of shooting. Competitors from 10 of the 13 BC Biathlon Clubs were represented and were joined by 20 registrants from the Yukon and Washington State.

Driving rain and wind during the training session on Feb. 12 tested our ability to catch the pop up tents before they were relocated down the rifle range and keep rifles operational. The rains persisted on Saturday morning for the start of the Individual Sprint race,  but cooler temperatures prevailed to bring us fresh snow for the Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning Pursuit Race — a welcome change for those skiing in the very soft and chopped-up snow of the penalty lap.

During the heated action of the Pursuit Race, we enjoyed cheering on some excellent marksmanship skills from our competitors in the Junior category, including Sylvie Johnston of Campbell RIver (53 per cent), Joe Winkelaar  of Courtenay (60 per cent) and Kane Cracknell  of Saanichton (60 per cent), who competed in the Senior category.

Breannah Bugslag of Courtenay skied strong in both her Junior races and Gavin Johnston of Campbell River improved his shooting on the second day to move up in his ranking for a fourth-place finish in Juvenile Boys. Blair Pettis of Comox competed in the Masters category and had two memorable races, achieving one of his “bucket list” goals of competing in a BC Cup Biathlon race. Silken Tschofen of Victoria  achieved a third-place finish in the Recreational 2 Category in the Individual Sprint race.

Three of these athletes will be representing Vancouver Island at the BC Winter Games Feb. 25-28 in Penticton:  Johnston for the Junior Girls, Winkelaar for the Junior Boys and Cracknell for the Senior Boys. We wish them the best of luck.

The Vancouver Island Biathlon Club will be hosting its next club race Sunday, March 13.  For more information on registration for this event, or registering for programs, visit