CANMORE – The PeyongChang Olympics are now firmly in the rear view mirror for Canmore biathletes, but no snow doesn’t mean slow go in regard to the intensive training required to launch a successful 2018-19 season.

The biathletes finished their annual ‘Testival’ on Saturday (July 14), finishing a punishing week of hill climbs, sprint races and shooting competitions designed to sharpen the competitive edge of national team biathletes leading into the summer training program.

This year, one of the Testival’s three uphill races was replaced with a sprint race due to construction on trails.

“Even though this is a competition, and points are awarded and we will have an overall winner … this is really just the first hard intensity training of the season,” said Matthias Ahrens, head coach for Biathlon Canada.

The goal, says Ahrens, is to expose the athletes to the kind of intensity they will face at major competitions.

A number of younger competitors from local clubs also took part in some of the test events during the week.

“It’s a big rehearsal for what’s going on in a competitive environment,” he said. “You can see them coming through here doing their skiing and their shooting, but really what the result is behind it – what the athlete has to go through – it’s a bit hidden.”

Getting athletes ready and motivated for the competitive season and for the next Olympics is now a primary focus for the national biathlon team.

“There is so much stress and energy coming into an Olympics, and then coming out of that, it’s first a relief and then the fire has to get ignited again.”

Joining the Canadians this year was Anaïs Bescond, French national team biathlete and winner of two bronzes and a gold medal at the PeyongChang Olympics.

“It’s really interesting and nice for me because I have a really good relationship with the teammates in Canada,” she said.

Bescond trained in Canmore two years ago with the Canadian team and decided to include the 10 days of Testival in her international training schedule again this year.

Despite the competition’s points, and winners, falling more on the side of Whose Line is it Anyway? than an IBU world cup, taking home the titles of king and queen of the mountain are points of pride for the biathletes.

This year’s winners were Nathan Smith and Emma Lunder, after a very close count of points from each of the events.

Coming in behind Smith were Christian Gow and Carsen Campbell for the king of the mountain title, and Anaïs Bescond and Sarah Beaudry behind Lunder for queen of the mountain.

“It was a bit of a different week since we didn’t use Norquay, but it was kind of nice to change it up,” said Lunder. “I did miss doing the uphill skate because that’s one of my favourite events.”

 

 

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