It was another successful biathlon season! Despite some unpredictable weather – too cold, too rainy, too icy – our cadets performed well and secured five spots to the Provincial level competition in Sault Ste Marie.
To start with, a dozen or so keen cadets practised through the fall on the indoor range honing their prone position shooting on tiny falling plate targets. Then once the snow fell, the team headed to Gatineau Park for one practice ski on the trails they would compete on. The regional competition was scheduled earlier this year which did not allow for much practice on snow. On January 13th, on one of those -25C days, the cadets headed to Connaught Ranges to catch the bus to Gatineau Park. Once there, they waited and waited until the leadership finally decided to postpone the competition due to the windchill. It was unfortunate as the ski conditions were perfect and the range would not be available again.
The competition was rescheduled for two weeks later allowing the team one more practice on skis at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park. Before the competition, it rained and we lost most of our snow. What was left was a hard crust of ice, not exactly perfect ski conditions. The competition was relocated to the Hylands Golf Course near the Ottawa airport. It was a good venue for the skiing portion of the race but there is no range, so the shooting portion of the competition was dropped. The groomers did a remarkable job creating a ski course out of the icy fairways.
Our biathletes placed remarkably well. Of the eight competitors we sent, five qualified to move on to Provincials. Flight Sergeant Légère, Sergeant Marsh, Sergeant Baillon, Corporal Stringel, and Cadet Yap all made it to the next round. Flight Corporal Clancy, Corporal Harriss, and Cadet Stringel finished well but didn’t place high enough to move on.
For the first time since 585 has competed in biathlon, the competition would include standing shooting, something the cadets had not trained for! Luckily, the weekend before provincials, the cadets spent a day at Connaught Ranges. Here, they were assigned a rifle for the competition, they zeroed the rifle and they practised prone and standing shooting.
Our team left for Sault Ste Marie on a coach bus on the Friday morning, February 9th. Races were held on the Saturday and Sunday. At the Provincial competition, conditions were finally excellent. They had lots of snow and temperatures hovered around -5C, perfect for skiing and shooting. Corporal Tavo Stringel placed second in his division but unfortunately did not advance to Nationals. His silver medal is the highest placing of any 585 cadet so far in biathlon competition. Well done, Tavo!
We are still awaiting official results from the competition, so we can’t let you know how others placed, at this time.
Two of our cadets, Flight Sergeant Vignuzzi and Flight Sergeant Hartung helped as staff cadets at Provincials and were asked to staff the National Biathlon competition to be held next week in PEI. Hartung could not attend due to school commitments but Vignuzzi will spend most of the week helping the National level competitors.
Thank you to all the cadets who competed, to Capt Earle for coaching, to OCdt Torrens for coaching on the range, to Capt Cordy for coordinating and escorting the team to Provincials.
The team is looking forward to next season when we will practice shooting in the standing position all season, we’ll pray for good conditions, we hope to be on skis a few more times, and we will create teams that have a chance of making it to Nationals. Go team!