Biathlon is an Olympic Sport that combines two incredibly different
competitive activities. Which two incredibly different activities you ask? Biathlon is a combination of a cross country ski race and small-bore rifle marksmanship. In Europe, biathlon is highly regarded with more than 30,000 fans showing up to races. You can consider it the winter version of soccer, fan wise.
In Northern Canada, a variation of the original biathlon exists, recognized only by the Arctic Winter Games: Snowshoe Biathlon. Snowshoeing, of course, replacing the cross country skiing portion of the event.
Here in Whitehorse, you can learn both versions of the sport by joining the Yukon Biathlon Club located at the Grey Mountain Gun Range. The club offers regular biathlon every year and snowshoe biathlon every second year in preparation for the Arctic Winter Games.
Children as young as eight are able to sign up with the club for the Bears group. The Bears group are taught the value of routine, firearm safety and responsibility. They’ll also be gaining skills such as self-esteem, body awareness and self-control. Children learn they’ll need stamina to complete the cross country ski race, but they will also need to decelerate their breathing and control their heart rates in order to have a greater chance at hitting their targets.
The Bears program runs from November until early March on Sunday afternoons for an hour and a half.
There are two other age groups run out of the club: Pursuit and Velocity.
Pursuit is new to the club. It allows the more advanced athlete an extra challenge, without forcing them to attend competitions.
Velocity is for the competitive athlete, allowing them to compete at regional, national and international competitions.
Currently, the Yukon Biathlon Club is overflowing with participants. That’s not to say they aren’t willing to take on more eager athletes. However, along with the willingness to accept more athletes the club could also use any and all volunteers. Parents of participants are often given the option to go through a coaching course. Having more coaches on the range allows for a higher number of participants in the club. Right now the club is considering adding extra days to practices so that they are able to accommodate more kids.
Thinking about enrolling your child in this incredible sport, or even getting active yourself? Email the Yukon Biathlon Club for more information: BiathlonYukon@gmail.com.