Biathlon athletes and volunteers tested their skills ahead of the 2023 Canada Winter Games this weekend.
There were 55 competitors from across Canada and parts of the United States for the North American Regional Open Biathlon event at Mark Arendz Ski Provincial Park in Brookvale, PEI.
Athletes got to familiarize themselves with the new course and volunteers had the chance to learn about the roles they are expected to fill at next year’s event.
About 80 volunteers will be needed for the biathlon events at the Canada Games, said Stephen Hale, sport manager for biathlon for the upcoming Canada Games.
Between 60 and 70 helped this weekend.
“We were incredibly impressed with our volunteers,” he said.
Some of the athletes who competed this weekend but will be too old for next year’s games enjoyed the event so much that Hale said they offered to come back as volunteers.
“We even signed a few more this weekend, so I’m confident we can achieve that.”
Volunteers do just about everything at competitions like this, from maintaining the track to keeping scores. This weekend, as the hot and rainy weather on Saturday turned into cold and windy weather on Sunday, volunteers even had to shovel snow onto the course to make it less icy.
“These are things you can come across when you run a competition anywhere in the country and provided we have the right equipment and the right technology for next year we will create a set of class games for Prince Edward Island”
The event was also a good opportunity for athletes like 17-year-old Fidel Wendt to familiarize themselves with the course. Wendt, an Islander, won two silver medals and said he learned some tips to help him do even better next year when he competes at the Canada Games.
“For shooting, if there’s a big gust of wind, you can’t really shoot. It will blow your bullet, blow the barrel of the gun, so you have to slow down and wait for the gust to settle,” a he declared.
Wendt is excited about the Canada Games, but he’s also excited about the lasting legacy that building this course will leave behind.
“They put this lineup on just, you know, last year and it’s just a completely different feeling,” he said.
“You can roller ski this little section all summer, all fall. And now we can practically roller ski all year round, which is pretty amazing.”
Hale said he hoped to run a few more test events for athletes and volunteers in January 2023, before the games.