Relay Team B.C. 1 with their bronze medals. (L-R): Ethan Algra

Burns Lake athlete stands out at nationals

Côle Bender represented B.C. at a national biathlon championship

Burns Lake resident Côle Bender, who was competing as part of Team B.C. at the 2017 Canadian and North American Biathlon Championships, helped the team add some medals to the province’s haul.

The competition was held in Canmore, Alberta, last week. Over the six days of competition, Bender competed in four races, placing in the top six in all the races and winning two bronze medals in the pursuit and mixed relay.

The talented 15-year-old finished fifth on March 8, sixth on March 9, battled Manitoba for a bronze on March 11 and also helped B.C. take the bronze again in the mixed relay on March 12.

“On Saturday’s [March 11] pursuit, Côle started in fifth position, moved to fourth after the first round of shooting, and had one heck of a finish line battle with an athlete from Manitoba to finish in third place,” described his mother Agathe Bernard, who was in Canmore with Bender. “You have no idea how exciting that was.”

“He is one happy boy,” she added. “Of the B.C. senior boys, Côle had the best performance and showed very good consistency.”

Although conditions were challenging early in the week with temperatures below -20 C, Bender said his first national biathlon event was a great experience for him.

“I had a great time competing as a part of Team B.C.,” said Bender. “This week-long event could not have been possible without the assistance of the coaches and wax techs of Team B.C., as well as the support of the Omineca Ski Club, people from Burns Lake and coaches.”

Since December, Bender had consistently finished in the top three in all of his competitions. Earlier this season he was awarded the Biathlon B.C.’s ‘Senior athlete of the year’ award.