It’s really starting to seem about time the Velocity Squad changes its name to the High Velocity Squad.
Three weeks after Biathlon Yukon’s travel team collected five medals at a Calforex Cup in Alberta, they were back at it over the weekend in B.C.
The Velocity Squad won two gold, two silver and two bronze at the B.C. Cup 3 at Whistler Olympic Park, Jan. 28 and 29.
Whitehorse’s Romeo Champagne doesn’t just have a super cool name, he now has two gold medals.
The 14-year-old took first in the Saturday’s junior boys 4.5-kilometre sprint and first in Sunday’s six-kilometre mass start race.
“It was a really fun weekend with the team,” said Champagne.
His success came from, “having great coaches and teammates and it all clicking together,” he said.
Champagne took gold in the sprint, but it was fast skiing, not sharp shooting, that got him there. He shot just three out of 10 at the range after getting there a little winded. (It’s not easy to keep a steady hand when huffing and puffing.)
“I guess I skied too hard before coming in to shoot, so I had to make up for it in skiing,” said Champagne.
Champagne, who is in his third season on the team, finished Saturday with a time of 17 minutes and 56.2 seconds.
Teammate Aidan Hupe was 22.7 seconds behind for the silver in the field of 16. Hupe, who shot better than Champagne both days, again finished behind him on Sunday for another silver, just 8.9 seconds back.
“Because it was a mass start, Aidan and Romeo were working together to try to get away from the pack,” said Velocity Squad coach Ted Hupe. “Aidan was leading for most of the race until the last lap where Romeo overtook him.
“It was so nice to see them coming in strong and together.”
Teammate Veronica Porter also came home with a matching set. The 13-year-old won bronze both days with third in the junior girls 4.5-kilometre and third in the six-kilometre mass start.
Porter, who is in her first season of junior, was just 12.4 seconds behind the gold winner Saturday and less than a minute behind the winner in Sunday’s six-kilometre.
“She was in the lead for much of the race, but the difference was in the final round of shooting,” said Ted. “She shot a little poorer than the other two girls skiing with her and one shot — she was one shot away from gold or silver.
“She is up and coming. We’ll be reading about her in the future.”
Teammate Emma Marnik, who won two gold at the Calforex Cup, placed fifth and sixth in the same division as Porter over the weekend.
Bronwyn Goodwin-Williams was edged from the podium with fourths both days in senior girls. Goodwin-Williams shot 80 per cent on Saturday and was just 10.6 seconds behind the bronze medalist and was about 49 seconds from the podium in Sunday’s 7.5-kilometre race.
Teammates Dana Sellars and Amelie Latour placed eighth and ninth in the same division Saturday and seventh and 10th on Sunday, respectively.
Out of the Velocity Squad’s 16 race finishes in Whistler, 15 were in the top 10. The one that got away is understandable.
Aidan Adel, who is in his first year of senior boys, placed ninth in the six-kilometre sprint before breaking a ski and placing 11th (last) in Sunday’s 7.5-kilometre race.
“That field, that grouping this year was very, very strong,” said Ted.
Champagne will be back racing soon, but not with a rifle. He will race with the Yukon Ski Team at the Eastern Canadian Cross Country Championships next week in Cantley, Que.
“I’ve been skiing since I could walk,” said Champagne. “I really like it and I really like biathlon, so I do both. It keeps my schedule full.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org