Six local cadets competed against the best in the southwest as the Canmore Nordic Centre hosted the Cadet Summer Biathlon Zone Championships on Sunday (Nov. 6).
The run and shoot event saw cadets run around a 1.1 kilometre course three times, with two bouts of shooting. Squads from Calgary, Sundre, Carstairs and other locations travelled to Canmore for the event.
The cadets used Daisy air rifles and adjustable targets 10 metres away for the shooting portion.
Six locals competed in the event, which served as a qualifier for the provincial cadet biathlon championships in February 2012. That event will also take place at the Canmore Nordic Centre, and the athletes will use .22 rifles instead of pellet guns.
Coach Kyle Backiney said the girls performed extremely well.
“Their hard work definitely paid off,” Backiney said. “They’ve been training a lot and will continue until they advance.”
The team has received support from New Zealand biathlete Sara Murphy, a world-class athlete who began as a cadet. She, along with members of Canada’s biathlon squad, have offered the squad several pointers, encouraging the young cadets to pursue the sport. Cadet spokesperson Rod Vanderlee said the cadet program used to act as a large feeder for the Canadian national biathlon team, however, things have changed. Children are joining biathlon clubs earlier, but Vanderlee says many cadet athletes still graduate to civilian races.
Local athletes Tate Thornton, Courtney Hollihan and Danielle Fish led the Bow Valley women’s team.
Fish shot eight for 10 in her first competition and was happy to get the experience. She finished fifth overall.
“My running was better than my shooting, but my goal was to not ever slow down,” Fish said.
First place finisher Thornton and second place finisher Hollihan both shot clean. They both hope the start is a good sign on their quest to qualify for the cadet biathlon nationals, which will be held in Halifax.
“I ran decently. I could have pushed myself a little more, but I shot clean,” Thornton said.
This is her fifth year competing in biathlon and she’s improving every year.
“It’s fun and a great way to spend time with friends,” Thornton said.
Hollihan began competing in biathlon to increase her fitness levels.
“I’m happy I didn’t stop and that I shot clean,” Hollihan said. “We’re all really excited to make Nationals, which should be lots of fun.”
Senior Boy Adriel Salzegebar finished fifth, while junior boys Alex Rogers, and Matthew Marquez finished sixth and 12th respectively. Marquez is new to the sport and said he wanted to ‘push to my limit’ in his first competition, as biathlon is a sport he truly enjoys.
“I like all of it. The officers make it fun and I enjoy the competition,” Marquez said.