The 2012 BC Winter Games are in the books, and for hundreds of young athletes it was an experience they won’t soon forget.
“It was good, really good,” Kwalikum Secondary Student Travis De Rooy confirmed of his Winter Games’ debut.
De Rooy, 14, was the only local in the mix competing in Biathlon, which is comprised of three different events — Individual, Sprint and Super Sprint.
Contacted in Duncan, Zone 6 coach Delbert McNish, who brings over 12 years of coaching biathlon, said, “I had a good group of kids and everything went very well.”
McNish took a team of five to the Winter Games — two senior girls including his daughter Anneliese, 15, and a junior girl, along with two junior boys.
The competitors all use target grade small bore (.22) biathlon rifles. The big weekend started off with a Sprint race, day two was Individual, and day three the Super Sprint.
De Rooy’s best finish was ninth out of a field of 15 in the Super Sprint.
In the individual event they ski one lap of the 1.5 km course then shoot five shots at five targets — for every shot missed they ski a hundred meter penalty loop. They shoot three times and ski four times.
The individual comp determines where the athletes start in the Super Sprint.
The Sprint race is two rounds of shooting with three ski loops done the same way.
The Super Sprint said McNish, is more of a shooting competition where you come into the range and instead of skiing penalty loops you have to stay on the range until you have knocked down five targets. In this event they ski three loops and shoot twice.
“It’s a great experience for them — basically all their training has come to a point the same time as all the other athletes, so there’s quite a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie.”
De Rooy started in the sport three years ago.
He qualified for the Winter Games with a strong showing at the Cadet Zone Competition the beginning of January.
The Winter Games, he confirmed, “were a lot of fun. It was nice to meet people from other places that also like the sport you’re in.”
“Travis is quite a talented boy,” said coach McNish, explaining, “we had to do a lot of travelling, so fatigue was a factor. It’s an exercise in sleep depravation, but the kids were all really good, and Travis did especially well. The conditions deteriorated as the weekend went on,” he said, adding “it was snowing and blowing and minus 15 and at one point, and the worst the conditions got, the better Travis did.
“Mental toughness is an important part of biathlon,” he said, adding, “if you can keep it together mentally you will succeed.”
McNish was also quick to pass on kudos to De Rooy’s mom Elaine who made the trip to Vernon on her own dime to support her son and his teammates.
Travis the youngest of two boys — his older brother Justin competed Cadet Zones and Provincials and will be competing in marksmanship in Vernon in April at the Provincial Cadet Marksmanship competition.
“I coach both cadet and civilian, and Travis is welcome to come out to any of the civilian races, the BC Cup races, so I’m hoping to train with him more,” said McNish, adding, “there are competitions all over B.C., so there is definitely a future for him in the sport if he wants to pursue it.”
The Cadet system he says “is a very good program for kids to get introduced to Biathlon and compete.
“We’re trying to strengthen the ties between civilian biathlon and cadet biathlon so that more kids can experience biathlon, plus there’s a whole lot more that Cadets has to offer.”
For more information on the local Cadet program, the 893 Beaufort Squadron, call Nicole Bancov at 250-248-4203. For ore information on the Vancouver Island Biathlon Club go to vancouverislandbiathlonclub.wordpress.com.