A group of 19 biathletes were at the biathlon range in Whitehorse on Oct. 5 for a bike biathlon put on by Biathlon Yukon.
Trena Irving, who spearheaded the event, said it was popular with the group of primarily youth riders.
“I surveyed them all afterwards,” said Irving. “They all had an overwhelmingly positive response.”
Biking, they said, was preferable to running when skiing isn’t an option.
“I think it’s just that you can go a bit faster on a bike, just like on your skis,” said Irving. “You’re going a bit faster on your skis than you would be running.”
The Contagious Mountain Bike Club hosts bike biathlon nights during the summer, and Irving said she hopes the two groups will have more crossover in the future.
“What I hope in the future too is (that) some of the people that do CMBC bike biathlon might come out and join in this,” said Irving, adding she’d be trying to organize another event this fall if not for the heavy snowfall almost immediately following the event.
“Definitely in the spring, the summer and the fall next year I’m going to be on this if (Biathlon Yukon) lets me,” said Irving. “It’s a great way for the kids to maintain their biathlon skills along with biking, which a lot of them do anyway.”
The event format itself is very similar to a traditional ski biathlon, with a couple key changes.
After riding each loop, athletes leave their bikes near the start line outside the range and then run back into the range through the entrance, shoot, and run out the exit back to their bikes.
“We did it that way because that’s how they’d be doing it in skiing,” said Irving. “We wanted them entering and exiting the same way they would if they were doing a biathlon race because we have trials coming up in December for Arctic Winter Games, so we’re trying to give more race experience.”
The other big difference is that in bike biathlon, athletes leave their guns in the range throughout the event.
Irving said one of the most impressive parts of the competition was the number of athletes who had clean shooting rounds — rounds with no misses — particularly those that did so from a standing position.
“What stood out to me is there was a lot of good shooting happening and that bodes well for Arctic Winter Games,” said Irving. “It’s always impressive, especially the standing shooters — who are shooting from that distance and making their shots — because it is very, very hard.”
The biathletes competed in six different categories — junior girls, junior boys short course, junior boys long course, juvenile boys short course juvenile girls, juvenile boys and adult men — with all participants shooting four rounds of targets and riding distances that varied by category.
Cheyenne Tirschmann won the junior girls category with a time of 25 minutes flat and no misses. Second place went to Lydia Brown with a time of 29 minutes and three seconds with three misses. Marin Lewis finished third in 38 minutes and six seconds with four total misses.
Ryan Galagher won the junior boys short course with a time of 23 minutes and 20 seconds and no misses. Taiga Buurman was second with a time of 24 minutes and 25 seconds and one miss, and Johna Irving-Staley was third with a time of 24 minutes and 48 seconds with one miss.
Cole Germain won the junior boys long course with a time of 38 minutes and 26 seconds with eight misses.
Alex Brown won the juvenile boys short course with a time of 22 minutes and 43 seconds and no misses.
In the juvenile girls category, Veronica Porter won with a time of 41 minutes and three seconds and six misses. Second place was a tie between Isla Hupe and Ava Irving-Staley, who finished in 49 minutes and six seconds each, with seven and six misses respectively.
Aidan Hupe won the juvenile boys category with a time of 35 minutes and 30 seconds with three misses. Noah Marnik finished second in 40 minutes and 15 seconds with 13 misses. Isidore Champagne was third with a time of 40 minutes and 17 seconds with 13 misses.
Brian Healy, the lone adult in the field, finished in 35 minutes and 43 seconds with four misses.
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