Former Burns Lake Omineca Ski Club racer Emily Dickson has won a spot on the Canadian team that will compete in the 2013 Youth and Junior Biathlon World championships in Obertilliach, Austria, being held Jan. 23 to Feb. 2, 2013.
David Palmer, another racer who got his start in Burns Lake, will represent Canada at the World Junior Cross-Country Ski Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic, being held Jan. 20 to Jan. 27, 2013.
Dickson, who was suffering the effects of a cold during the qualifying event in Canmore, Alberta in early January, won bronze in a sprint competition as well as sixth place in two mass start events. This qualified her for a place on Canada’s Youth Women’s Biathlon Team.
After many successful seasons with the Omineca Ski Club, Dickson recently moved to Prince George to study at the Canadian Sport School, where she is able to maintain her academics while maintaining high-level athletic training.
“There have been lots of benefits from my move to Prince George,” Dickson said. “Primarily, the sports school I am attending has allowed me to do strength-training, conditioning, and learn about sports psychology and nutrition four times a week.”
That training and study has been paying off. Not only will she be the youngest member of the Canadian team leaving for Austria on Jan. 20, but she won her spot in the 17 to 18 year-old division while being 15 years old.
Competing above your age group is difficult when you’re young. Endurance athletes generally get stronger as they age.
“Emily is showing great aerobic potential for her age,” said Chris Paulson, the head coach at the Omineca Ski Club. “[She] is also ahead of her age technically as well. She is a very intelligent, disciplined competitor.”
Add to the age disadvantage a cold that Dickson developed upon arriving in Canmore, and you had the potential for things to go very wrong.
“My best race was the first of three races, the 7.5km sprint,” said Dickson. “After this race the cold started to develop and it began to affect me. It wasn’t great enough to keep me from racing, but it was enough to affect my remaining two races.”
The Canmore nordic centre provides a notoriously hilly course. Dickson credits her experience in Burns Lake with the Omineca Ski Club for part of her success in Canmore.
“Canmore’s trails include lots of hills,” said Dickson. “I think this played to my advantage due to all of the training I have done at the Omineca Ski Club which has very similar trails.”
“I miss the Omineca Ski Club and training with the race team,” Dickson continued. “There have been many influences that have helped me make the [Canadian] team, and many coaches. The most influential was probably my coach for many years, Chris Paulson.”
Dickson started skiing at the Omineca Ski Club when she was four years old. She eventually spent eight seasons racing on the club team (six years in biathlon).
She expects stiff competition from over 80 international competitors. Her age puts her at a disadvantage for this year, but it does mean that she has a lot of competitions ahead of her in the years to come.
“Because of my age I have five more years after this to return to the championships if I continue to qualify,” said Dickson. “I believe this year it will be a challenge, a great experience, and lots of fun.”