"The town has welcomed us with open arms and everything has been exceptional."

Author: BC Games Society/Sunday, February 23, 2020/Categories: 2020 News, BC Winter Games, 2020 BC Winter Games, Biathlon

"The town has welcomed us with open arms and everything has been exceptional."

Competing in a biathlon is exhausting by oneself, as it involves balancing skiing and shooting back-to-back. Individual scores are tallied based on time and possible penalty loops or time is added for missed shots. It’s not uncommon for athletes to fall over exhausted after crossing the finish line. Over the weekend four different biathlon competitions took place including, individual, tandem relay, mixed relay and mass start. 

It’s clear how the participants feel about the sport by the way they choose to apply glitter and shiny ribbons to their outfits and the attention they pay to their coaches during warm-up. 

Mary Finch's daughter has been doing civilian and cadet league biathalon for several years. She touts the sport as the best way to teach athletes resilience and determination, as athletes must be physically and psychologically fit. She also noted that biathlon teaches athletes teamwork and how to brave the elements.

When asked about their experience at the Games so far Finch said, "The town has welcomed us with open arms and everything has been exceptional!"  

The course at the North Peace Rod and Gun Club has been constructed entirely by volunteers within the past week. A community effort, numerous Rod and Gun Club members have put in countless hours preparing the course, as well as teachers and other good samaritans. The Whiskey Jack Nordic Ski Club even lent their groomer to get the tracks ready. The course consists of a 1.5km track with 5 targets for the athletes to hit in 8 tries. For every target they miss they have to ski a 100m penalty loop.

Cedar Wink, a young woman from zone 1- Kootenays, described a few preferences athletes have regarding a penalty loop versus the 45 second time penalty added for each missed shot. It is not up to the athlete to choose what they get, that is decided before the game. From the perspective of the athletes, if one is a better skier, the penalty loop is preferred. It usually only takes about 12 seconds to run. If one is better at shooting, the time added is more favourable. Less proficient shooters will be sent back, giving the accomplished marksman more time to ski and catch up on time.  

As part of the legacy from the games, nine local volunteers have been trained as entry level biathlon officials. A course was put on in January to certify the volunteers, with the hopes that a biathlon club will be started here in Fort St. John. Additionally the club will have an upgraded outdoor sound system, a much needed item for hosting large events such as these.

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