KAMLOOPS — Saturday at McArthur Island and the conditions were perfect for Nordic athletes to take part in the biathlon as part of the BC Winter Games. There was a problem, though: no one brought their skis.
“This had been done before,” Biathlon Chief of Competition Tony Tsang explained. “In Europe, in Canada, We thought maybe we can use this new modified format for the BC Winter Games.”
BC Games organizers called it a modified Biathlon. Competitors ran instead of skied and instead .22 calibre rifles, athletes shot on a simulated range that uses lasers instead of bullets. For the athletes involved, it was a change from the biathlon they usually train for.
“We bring much less equipment,” Elise Clare from the Caledonia Nordic Club in Prince George said.
“In skiing, if you’re really tired you can go into a tuck,” Taylor Fulton of the Sea to Sky Nordic Club explained. “If you go into tuck here you look like an idiot.”
Sammy King from Warfield in the Kootenay Zone said it was a big adjustment.
“We train to ski all the time,” King said. “I don’t run all that much.”
While the event wasn’t what the athletes were used to they seemed to make the best of it, taking advantage of the beautiful weather to run a good clean race.
The final biathlon event was a mixed team relay, which was a first for some competitors. Four athletes - two male and two female - completed 12 laps of the course, with each athlete shooting twice from the prone position.
There was one team of five on the course. Sammy King was the odd man out, racing his leg last after most of-of the other teams had already finished; the other competitors didn’t want Sammy to finish the race alone, so after he took his final shots, they joined him in his last lap, in a true show of sportsmanship.
“They killed my cynicism of Hollywood,” King said after his fellow competitors help bring him home.
For both the athletes and the officials running the event, the timing of the BC Winter Games was perfect - with the Olympics games wrapping up in South Korea, watching Canadian athletes compete was a little extra inspiration.
“BC Winter Games is a really good process and path for all the young athletes coming up the chain,” Tsang said. “They’re really experiencing this multi-sport environment and they can excel on.”
So despite maybe not having their skis at this BC Winter Games, for the athletes who were able to earn medals, they’ll now have a special memento of their BC Games experience and the memories that go along with it.
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