Quadra Island’s Mike Akey brought home gold in the 10 km Men 50+ category at the BC biathlon championships at Mount Washington Feb. 28-March 1. Photo by Bill Jorgensen

Island competitors take a shot at BC biathlon championships

Mt. Washington came alive as the Vancouver Island Biathlon Club hosted a successful Biathlon BC Provincial Championships.

The event was held Feb. 28 to March 1 – drawing over 100 athletes, as well as coaches, parents, and supporters from across British Columbia. The Vancouver Island Biathlon Club was represented with athletes from Quadra Island and Campbell River to Victoria, Powell River and Port Alberni.

Biathlon combines the precision of shooting .22 calibre rifles at 50 m targets with physical challenge of cross-country skiing. The BC Championships started with a training day and then had two different competition formats. On Saturday was the Individual start for which every missed shot is given a 45 second penalty. Sunday was the intense and exciting Mass Start. Like most other competition formats, for every missed shot, athletes must ski a penalty loop of either 100m or 150m, depending on the age category, before continuing on course.

In the Individual format, as one of only three girls in the 4 km Mixed Juvenile category, Nadia Sonnenburg placed 12th. In the very competitive 7.5km Senior Boys category, Gavin Johnston placed 2nd, earning a silver medal. Gavin was also the top shooter overall for the BC Championships across all competitive categories. In the 7.5km Recreational 1 category Sylvie Johnston placed 3rd. For the 10km Youth Women, Allison Joyce finished 3rd, while Mike Akey brought home the gold in the 10km Men 50+.

The Mass Start was another successful competition, with the same course distances as the Individual. In their first year of biathlon, for the Mixed Novice category Norah MacKenzie placed 6th and Stella Nadler, 10th. Nadia Sonnenburg placed 13th and Eli Nadler 14th in the Mixed Juveniles. After just having returned from competing at BC Winter Games in Fort St. John, Andre Sonnenburg was 7th in the Junior Boys category, and Grace Nadler 9th in the Junior Girls. Gavin Johnston placed 6th in Senior Boys. Kai Sonnenburg competed in the Men 35-49 and also placed 6th. Mike Akey came to the podium again, this time for a silver medal in the Men 50+.

To see full results from this weekend’s event, visit the Vancouver Island Biathlon Club website at www.vibiathlon.ca.

VIBC would like to express our sincere and profound appreciation to those volunteers who came out this weekend to help make dreams come true and to support sport and healthy living in our community and province.

VIBC would also like to thank the local businesses and organizations who made notable contributions to the BC Championships. A special thank you to Pioneer Home Hardware for donating lumber for 25 new rifle racks, and to Timberline Secondary School Woodshop classes for constructing them. Other sponsors include: Riding Fool Hostel, Coastal Community Credit Union, Ryan Williams – Remax Ocean Pacific Realty, Greg MacKenzie and Associates, Debbie Wright – Grove Health and Wellness, Ed’s Soup Shack, Blue Toque Sports, Ski Tak Hut, Seaspan and Clif Bars as well as Mt. Washington Alpine Resort.

This was the first time VIBC has hosted the BC Championship and it was a wonderful experience for all to wrap up a very successful season for the club. This year VIBC has grown to become the largest biathlon club in BC. Not only did our athletes grace the podium at this event, there have been great results from club athletes at other Biathlon BC Cup races over the season.

VIBC has also made a mark on a national level too. Earlier in the season, Biathlon Canada ran a 6 month Precision Shooting Competition. Cumulative scores from each month’s shooting competition are then tallied. Gavin Johnston placed 1st in the Senior Boy category with a score of 1882/2400, shooting in both prone and standing. He finished only 5 points behind the top shooter in Canada for this competition, and posted the highest monthly score of all competitors. In the Masters Men category Don Johnston placed 3rd at 1582.

Biathlon is a challenging sport, but it’s also fun and can be enjoyed year-round! VIBC holds summer training opportunities and Mountain Bike Biathlon races. During the winter there are introductory Give It A Shot! sessions for those who want to check it out, as well as our regular programming and races for kids and adults. Check our website frequently to learn more about upcoming opportunities to join VIBC and learn the sport of biathlon.

If you have any questions, we encourage you to send an email to vibiathlonclub@gmail.com.

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Allison Joyce takes aim in the 10 km Youth Women category at the B.C. biathlon championships at Mount Washington Feb. 28 - March 1. Photo by Bruce johnstone

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