Bul­lets and bullseyes, shoot­ing test ends biathlon camp

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

Moira Green was not at all happy with her shoot­ing per­for­mance.

It took her 15 rounds to knock down five tar­gets while stand­ing on the range Sun­day af­ter­noon at Ot­way Nordic Cen­tre. That meant she reached her ob­jec­tive of finishing the test with­out run­ning out of am­mu­ni­tion, with only 20 rounds al­lot­ted to each ath­lete. But it was a few too many misses as far as Green was con­cerned.

“That was not good, my legs were shak­ing,” said the 14-year-old Caledonia Nordic Ski Club biathlon team mem­ber, after com­plet­ing the na­tional team test, the fi­nal event of a gru­el­ing nine-day Biathlon BC sum­mer camp.

“It’s so stress­ful.”

Drawn by the biathlon fa­cil­i­ties at Ot­way, Green moved to Prince George from Yel­l­low-knife, N.W.T., a year ago in Septem­ber with her par­ents Paul, who works as an en­gi­neer, and Miriam, a math teacher at Duchess Park Sec­ondary School.

Paul is the older brother of Bren­dan Green, one of Canada’s most ac­com­plished male biath­letes, who re­tired from the World Cup team in Fe­bru­ary. Bren­dan, 32, is a three-time Olympian from Hay River, N.W.T., who an­chored the Cana­dian men’s re­lay team to a bronze at the 2016 world cham­pi­onships, the first-ever medal fin­ish in the re­lay for Canada. He also posted a fifth-place fin­ish in a World Cup sprint in 2015 and placed ninth in the mass start race at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

Paul is a for­mer na­tional team biath­lete who in 1991 be­came the first ath­lete from the North­west Territorie­s to ever win a Canada Win­ter Games medal. Miriam also has ski rac­ing in her blood as a for­mer ju­nior na­tional medal­ist in cross-coun­try.

“I missed out on all the genes,” laughed Moira Green, who spent last win­ter in Prince George train­ing at what rates as one of the prov­ince’s best nordic fa­cil­i­ties. She’s now train­ing with the Caledonia club’s se­nior (15-and-older) biath­letes and her dad is now the lead se­nior coach, re­plac­ing Tony Fiala, who will fo­cus more on cross­coun­try coach­ing.

Moira said she doesn’t miss try­ing to bat­tle the el­e­ments of win­ter in her for­mer home­town, which made biathlon prac­tice such an or­deal.

“I’m pretty sure I started when I was 10, but it was hard be­cause it was so cold,” she said.

“A lot of it was dry-fir­ing in­side with air ri­fles, which is not the same. The range and the ski trails here are re­ally nice and peo­ple here are re­ally lucky. I was able to shoot more than once a week.”

The sec­ond an­nual camp at Ot­way drew 25 ath­letes from var­i­ous parts of the prov­ince, most of whom are now in their third month of train­ing for the up­com­ing win­ter biathlon sea­son.

“It was tir­ing,” said Ni­cholas Veeken of Prince George, 15, who fin­ished sec­ond over­all last sea­son on the BC Cup biathlon cir­cuit.

When they weren’t on the shoot­ing range they did weight train­ing, ran up and down hills and went cruis­ing on their roller skis on Wil­low-cale Road, a long straight road with very lit­tle traf­fic through the Dan­son in­dus­trial area.

“The camp goal was en­durance train­ing and tech­ni­cal shoot­ing skill de­vel­op­ment,” said B.C. provin­cial team head coach Jessica Blenkarn of Whistler.

“Th­ese tests can be an in­di­ca­tor of how the ath­lete’s shoot­ing de­vel­op­ment is com­ing, there’s noth­ing on the line for th­ese ath­letes, it’s just prac­tice. Al­most ev­ery na­tion in biathlon uses this test as an in­di­ca­tor of per­for­mance. We had some good re­sults and I’m pretty happy about that, the kids are fo­cused. Some of them were a bit ner­vous but they all did a great job.”

Some of the shoot­ing ses­sions that made up the test were timed and some weren’t. Blenkarn wanted the ath­letes to fo­cus more on ac­cu­racy rather than shoot­ing speed in the 20-20 test. There was a bit of rain to deal with last week but on the whole the weather was ideal for the camp.

“It’s a good time of year to train for shoot­ing be­cause it’s not cold, it’s not snow­ing and it’s not rain­ing,” said Blenkarn.

Fif­teen-year-old Quinn Friesen just fin­ished his soc­cer sea­son play­ing as a mid­fielder for the Prince George Im­pact un­der-15 boys team, which wrapped up the sea­son last Sun­day at Ro­tary Soc­cer Field with a fifth-place 2-2 fin­ish at the provin­cial B cham­pi­onship. He won a cou­ple B.C. Cup biathlon races last sea­son, com­pet­ing in only prone shoot­ing bouts. Now that he’s a se­nior, he has the added dif­fi­culty of try­ing to hit his tar­gets while stand­ing.

“It’s hard,” said Friesen.

“This is my third or fourth year of biathlon and it gets eas­ier day-by-day. I just thought it would be cool to shoot a gun.”

Kira Friesen of Kelowna (no re­la­tion) won three medals at the na­tional cham­pi­onships in Fe­bru­ary and as a re­sult is now on na­tional un­der-20 team. The 16-year-old is among a group of biath­letes which in­cludes lo­cals Veeken, Damian Ge­or­gyev and Brynn Witwicki, try­ing to qual­ify for the Youth Olympics in Lau­sanne, Switzer­land, Jan. 9-22. Friesen com­petes for the Tele­mark Ski Club in Kelowna, the home club of World Cup team mem­ber Ju­lia Ran­som.

“Ju­lia has been re­ally good for train­ing and help­ing the club and she’s giv­ing back a lot and I re­ally want to step for­ward in her steps be­cause she’s a Kelowna girl like I am,” said Friesen.

“I look up to her quite a bit. I’m re­ally hop­ing to qual­ify for Youth Olympics but there’s go­ing to be some stiff com­pe­ti­tion

“This camp has been re­ally fun. You get to know the kids and I know ev­ery­one here pretty good. That makes the races more fun be­cause you cheer each other on, on trail.”

Blenkarn coached Caledonia club biath­lete Emily Dick­son of Burns Lake at the na­tional cham­pi­onships in March. With Craw­ford and Me­gan Tandy of Prince George now re­tired from biathlon, Dick­son will move up from the IBU Cup cir­cuit to take a spot on Canada’s World Cup team this year, join­ing Sarah Beaudry of Prince George, now head­ing into her third World Cup sea­son.

“Emily had an amaz­ing sea­son and now she’s on the se­nior team, so I’m re­ally happy for her,” said Blenkarn. “I’m also re­ally happy to see more B.C. ath­letes on the na­tional team be­cause that re­ally in­spires the younger ath­letes be­cause they know it’s pos­si­ble.”

CIT­I­ZEN PHO­TOS BY JAMES DOYLE

Biath­letes test their skills at the ri­fle range, above and be­low, at Ot­way Nordic Cen­tre on Sun­day morn­ing dur­ing a biathlon sum­mer camp.

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