Nordic course passes stress test ahead of 2023 Canada Winter Games in P.E.I.

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Biathlon athletes and volunteers alike tested their skills ahead of the 2023 Canada Winter Games this weekend.

There were 55 competitors from across Canada and parts of the United States for the regional North American Open Biathlon event at the Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park in Brookvale, P.E.I.

Athletes were able to familiarize themselves with the new course, and volunteers had the chance to learn what roles they’ll be expected to take on during next year’s event. 

About 80 volunteers will be needed for the Canada Games biathlon events, said Stephen Hale, the sport lead for biathlon for the upcoming Canada Games.

Between 60 and 70 helped this weekend. 

“We were incredibly impressed with our volunteers,” he said.

‘Provided we set ourselves up with the right equipment and technology for next year, we will create a world class set of games for P.E.I.,’ said Stephen Hale, the sport lead for biathlon for the upcoming Canada Games. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Some of the athletes who competed this weekend, but will be too old for next year’s games, enjoyed the event so much, Hale said they’ve offered to come back as volunteers.

“So we’ve even recruited a few more this weekend, so I’m confident that we can pull this off.”

Volunteers do just about everything at competitions like this— from track maintenance to score keeping. This weekend, with warm rainy weather on Saturday shifting to cold windy weather on Sunday, volunteers even had to shovel snow onto the course, to make it less icy.  

“These are things you can run into when you run a competition anywhere in the country and provided we set ourselves up with the right equipment and technology for next year we will create a world class set of games for P.E.I.”

Fidel Wendt says he learned some lessons he might be able to use when he competes in the games next year. (Tony Davis/CBC)

The event was also a good chance for athletes like 17-year-old Fidel Wendt to get familiar with the course. Wendt, an Islander, took home two silver medals and said he picked up some tips to help him do even better next year when he competes at the Canada Games. 

“For shooting, if there is a big gust of wind you can’t really take your shot. It’ll blow your bullet, blow the barrel of the gun, so you got to kind of slow it down and wait for the gust to settle,”  he said.

‘They put in this range just, you know, last year and just it’s a whole different feeling,” said Wendt. (Submitted by Stephen Hale)

Wendt is excited for the Canada Games, but he’s also excited for the lasting legacy the construction of this course will leave behind. 

“They put in this range just, you know, last year and just it’s a whole different feeling,” he said.

“You can roller ski on just this little section all summer long, all fall long. And now we can actually pretty much do the sport all year long, which is pretty amazing.”

Hale said he is hoping to run a few more test events for both athletes and volunteers in January of 2023, ahead of the games.



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