Joe Winkelaar is one of three Vancouver Island Biathlon Club athletes who will be competing at the BC Winter Games

Biathletes battle weather at B.C. championships

Seven racers from the Vancouver Island Biathlon Club persevered in trying weather conditions at the BC Biathlon Championships at Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley on Feb. 12-14.

Competitors from 10 of the 13 BC Biathlon clubs were represented, and were joined by 20 registrants from the Yukon and Washington state.

Biathlon combines the physical challenge of the cross-country skiing skating technique with the precision marksmanship skills of shooting .22 calibre rifles – alternating laps of skiing with bouts of shooting.

Driving rain and wind during the training session on Friday tested our ability to catch the pop-up tents before they were relocated down the rifle range and keep rifles operational.

The rains persisted on Saturday morning for the start of the Individual Sprint race,  but cooler temperatures prevailed to bring fresh snow for the Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning Pursuit Race – a welcome change for those skiing in the extremely soft and chopped-up snow of the penalty lap.

During the heated action of the Pursuit Race, we enjoyed cheering on some excellent marksmanship skills from our competitors in the Junior category including Sylvie Johnston of Campbell RIver (53%), Joe Winkelaar  of Courtenay (60%,) and Kane Cracknell  of Saanichton (60%), who competed in the Senior category.

Breannah Bugslag of Courtenay skied strongly in both her Junior races, and Gavin Johnston of Campbell River improved his shooting on the second day to move up in his ranking for a fourth place finish in Juvenile Boys.

Blair Pettis of Comox competed in the Masters category and had two memorable races, achieving one of his bucket list goals of competing in a BC Cup biathlon race. Silken Tschofen of Victoria  achieved a third-place finish in the Recreational 2 Category in the Individual Sprint race.

Three of these athletes will be representing Vancouver Island at the BC Winter Games in Penticton on Feb. 25-28: Sylvie for the Jr. Girls, Joe for  the Jr. Boys and Kane for the Sr. Boys categories. “We wish them the best of luck at the Games,”said Vancouver Island Biathlon Club president Pat Douglas.

The VIBC will be hosting their next club race on Sunday, Feb. 21.  For more information on registration for this event, or registering for programs, visit the website at


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