In Europe thousands of spectators fill venues to witness biathlon events. Canada hasn’t quite gotten on that bandwagon, but the sport is gaining tremendously in popularity.
On Jan. 11, Golden will get a taste of what the hype is all about, when the Alberta Biathlon Club comes to Dawn Mountain for a demo day.
“We (The Golden Nordic Club) have been talking about this for a while, so this will be the first ever biathlon event in Golden,” said Troy Hudson, the club’s youth programs co-ordinator, and organizer of the event.
The sport is growing exponentially in Alberta, and Canmore has a large club for youth. As of now, any youth in Golden who wants to give the sport a try (which there is currently one) has to travel to Canmore.
“This doesn’t mean that Golden will be starting a biathlon club of our own, we’re just sort of testing the waters to see what kind of interest there will be,” said Hudson.
“So far people seem to be pretty excited about it.”
Biathlon combines the athleticism of a cross-country ski race, with the precision training of sharp shooting. Competitors ski (skate ski) around a route which is broken up by either two or four shooting rounds.
For each shooting round the biathlete must hit five targets, and each missed target must be atoned for, often by skiing a penalty loop.
The event in Golden will consist of demonstrations and trials, followed by a friendly race following the traditional format.
“It’s really going to be just for fun. Anything that gets more kids on skis is what we’re after. Having said that though, this event will be open for all ages, so anyone who wants to participate is welcome,” said Hudson.
Airat Aitniakov, the program co-ordinator for Alberta Biathlon Club, will be coming with 10 laser rifles, state-of-the art technology for the sport. The rifles are very accurate and safe, making them a great introduction to the sport.
The event can accommodate up to 100 people, and registration will be the on Saturday Jan. 11 at 10:30 a.m., before the event starts at 11 a.m. The cost is $15 per person for members.
Non-members will be charged the usual $10 extra for use of the trails.
The money will go to travel costs for the Alberta Biathlon Club, a lunch spread for the event, and any excess funds will go towards the Golden Nordic Club’s youth programs.