Burns Lake’s biathlon team is becoming an exemplary ambassador for Burns Lake and the Omineca Ski Club.
So far this season, the team has travelled to one North American Cup and three B.C. Cups in Canmore, Kelowna, Quesnel and Whistler. From these races, the team has brought home 10 gold, two silver and four bronze medals, as well as numerous top five and top 10 finishes.
But according to Agathe Bernard, who has her entire family – herself, her husband and two kids – involved with the team, the benefits of this sport go far beyond winning medals.
“It’s all about a healthy lifestyle – it’s being outside, getting to know other people and doing things because they make you feel good,” she said. “It’s not just about winning.”
In addition, Bernard said the sport has been helping local youth develop valuable life skills.
“As parents and coaches we let them go on their own without mom and dad when they ski, and that’s important specially for the young ones,” she said. “They learn how to be responsible, and self reliance.”
“Remembering so many different things and practicing over and over also helps them focus,” she continued. “And even though it’s an individual sport, they are part of a team; it doesn’t take long to we get to know everybody and the kids are incredibly sportive of each other.”
The team has approximately 15 members, with six of them competing on a regular basis. Ages range from nine to 50 years old, which allows the team to compete in four different age categories.
Among the players who have been standing out is 15-year-old Cole Bender, who has recently won the Biathlon B.C.’s senior athlete of the year award. Since December, Cole has consistently finished in the top three in all of his competitions and he has earned the privilege to represent B.C. at the 2017 Canadian and North American Biathlon Championships, which will be held in Canmore, Alberta, next week.
Since its inception back in the 1980s, dedicated coaches and parents have grown the sport to make it what it is today in Burns Lake. Since that time, there have been many success stories coming from this program, with most recent focus going to multiple medal winner Emily Dickson.
Burns Lake’s biathlon range underwent major improvements last year. The range now has sixteen shooting lanes with covered targets and a new concrete firing line. These improvements recently allowed the ski club to host the B.C. Biathlon Championship, which attracted over 60 biathletes from all over the province.
During the championship, the local biathlon team shined and added three first place finishes, two second places finishes, three third finishes and four top five finishes to its impressive winter loot.
“There’s no limit to what people can achieve when they like something and they spend time doing it,” said Bernard.
The Omineca Ski Club is always looking for families who are interested in getting into the sport. For more information, visit www.ominecaskiclub.ca.