Dad gets test on biathlon course

The Prince George Citizen - - Front Page - Ted CLARKE Cit­i­zen staff [email protected]­i­t­i­zen.ca

Brynn Witwicki had two goals in mind when she lined up in the start gate for her B.C. Cup biathlon race Sun­day at Ot­way Nordic Cen­tre. First and fore­most, she wanted to ski and shoot as fast as she could to go af­ter the medals in the se­nior girls class.

For added in­spi­ra­tion she made it her mis­sion to try to catch up to her 40-year-old dad Alan, who was mak­ing his de­but rep­re­sent­ing the Cale­do­nia Nordic Ski Club as a biathlon racer af­ter six years as her coach.

Alan started his masters sprint race 10 min­utes be­fore the clock started on 15-yearold Brynn’s se­nior girls race and she didn’t quite catch him on the course but she got her medal, plac­ing sec­ond in the six-kilo­me­tre sprint, 1:34 be­hind race win­ner Kira Friesen of West Kelowna’s Tele­mark Biathlon Club, who won in 34:41.

“It’s re­ally good to have my dad out here – he’s a good role model,” said Brynn, who be­gan the week­end with a bronze-medal win Saturday in the 7.5 km in­di­vid­ual race. “It’s good to fi­nally see him out here and he un­der­stands what it’s like to race and that it’s not su­per-easy. He has a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing now.

“I tried to pass him but he was too quick. I was re­ally close. I just heard every­body say­ing, ‘Pass him Brynn, pass him.’ When I was try­ing to catch him he was go­ing to the fin­ish and I was go­ing back into the range so I never had the chance to get him.”

Alan grew up in Pen­tic­ton and has a back­ground in cy­cling as a road and moun­tain bike racer, but un­til the week­end he’d never ski raced. Hav­ing to hit ri­fle tar­gets only com­pli­cated mat­ters. He nailed eight of 20 tar­gets in the in­di­vid­ual race Saturday and went five-for-10 in the sprint.

Brynn shot 11-for-20 in the in­di­vid­ual race and six-for-10 in the sprint.

“It was a to­tal eye-opener – things I tell her start to make sense,” said Alan. “When I say ‘sight pic­ture’ (a crit­i­cal part of aim­ing the ri­fle) it seems re­ally easy, but it’s not at all. As soon as you’ve got a (rapid) heart rate, that all goes out the win­dow try­ing to aim. It’s tough. It’s so hard to come in to the range when you’re breath­ing hard, to try to con­trol that breath­ing long enough to get that shot off.”

Brynn, a Grade 10 stu­dent at PGSS who also at­tends the En­gage Sport North Cana­dian Sport School at UNBC, of­fers point­ers to her dad when they go out to­gether to prac­tice their ski­ing. None of that in­struc­tion was enough to pre­vent Alan’s face-plant when he tripped over a v-board that marked the course while ski­ing a penalty loop.

“It’s hard but it’s fun,” said Alan. “I never skied as a kid, I started when she started (at age 8). I wanted to be out here with her.”

He started out as a Jackrab­bits coach and branched off to biathlon as Brynn’s ri­fle­han­dler soon af­ter she got in­volved, join­ing

It’s good to fi­nally see him out here and he un­der­stands what it’s like to race and that it’s not su­per-easy.

— Brynn Witwicki

a group of biathlon par­ents who help share the coach­ing work­load. Alan trained all sum­mer with Cale­do­nia’s se­nior group.

Both Witwickis plan to race as many of the B.C. Cup events as they can the rest the sea­son. Brynn is one of 40 biath­letes selected by Biathlon Canada for a week­long World Cup Ex­pe­ri­ence camp Feb. 5-11 in Can­more when the Al­berta city hosts the BMX World Cup Biathlon tour.

The camp will be over­seen by 2018 Olympic team coach Roddy Ward, Biathlon Canada’s long-term ath­lete de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor and sev­eral other high-per­for­mance coaches who will lead the ath­letes in train­ing ses­sions on the World Cup course. The camp will in­clude nu­tri­tion, psy­chol­ogy and strength and con­di­tion­ing ses­sions.

Brynn gets to par­tic­i­pate in a TV test race used to place the cam­eras for world­wide cov­er­age of the races, will fore-run the course, and will serve as a vol­un­teer. She’s also look­ing for­ward to spend­ing time with Canada’s World Cup team, which in­cludes Me­gan Tandy and Sarah Beaudry of Prince Ge­orge.

“I’ll be get­ting ex­po­sure to the na­tional level to see the amount of work they need to put in and the dif­fer­ent sched­ules they have,” said Brynn.

Alan was also ac­cepted for the camp as a vol­un­teer coach, along with Ni­cole Per­rin, the Cale­do­nia club’s head coach.

CIT­I­ZEN PHOTO BY JAMES DOYLE

From the prone po­si­tion, Alexis Gasc aims at his tar­get on Sun­day morn­ing at Ot­way Nordic Cen­tre while com­pet­ing in the ju­nior boys 4.5-kilo­me­tre sprint as part of Biathlon B.C. Cup No. 2.

CIT­I­ZEN STAFF PHOTO

Alan and Brynn Witwicki pose for a photo out­side the lodge at Ot­way Nordic Cen­tre dur­ing the Biathlon B.C. Cup No. 2 event on Sun­day.

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