The best under-20 athletes in Canada are gathering in Prince George, British Columbia for this year’s Canada Winter Games. A winter Games is held only every four years, and athletes compete not only for medals, but to earn points for their provinces.
Competition in the nordic sports kicked off on Sunday with 12.5 and 15 k biathlon competitions. In the women’s 12.5 k, Leilani Tam Von Burg – fresh off a top-20 finish in the junior competitions at Open European Championships – posted a time of 45 minutes flat to take the win for Ontario with three penalties.
All three came in the second half of the race for the Biathlon Alberta Training Center athlete.
“My shooting started off pretty good, but kind of got nervous at the end,” Tam Von Burg told the Prince George Citizen. “I definitely had high expectations going in – at least I put pressure on myself and there was quite a bite of pressure. I’m happy I lived up to it and I could keep it all together.”
In the individual format of competition, missed shots are penalized with a minute of added time, rather than extra loops of skiing.
Nadia Moser of Yukon finished second in 46:55 with four penalties, and Prince George native Emily Dickson third in 47:42 with six penalties. At 16 years old, Dickson is one of the youngest participants at the Games: the eligibility is for athletes born from 1994 to 1997.
“It was a really, really cool experience today to have my whole family and have so many family and friends here -supporters out there who wouldn’t normally make it to my races,” Dickson told the Prince George Citizen. “I don’t know how to put it into words, how awesome it is. I had quite the cheerleading squad out there today.”
In the men’s 15 k, Benjamin Churchill of Alberta had an impressive performance on the range, missing only a single target. That gave him a 27-second win over Jules Burnotte of Quebec, who picked up five penalties. Teammate Teo Sanchez placed third, 45 seconds behind Churchill, with three penalties.
“So stoked for a wildly unexpected 1st place today,” Churchill wrote on his instagram page.
Burnotte’s and Sanchez’s efforts helped put Quebec in the lead of the medal standings, with 12 medals in five different sports. British Columbia and Ontario are tied with 10 medals apiece.
Racing continues in Prince George on Tuesday with 7.5 k and 10 k sprint competitions.
Daniel Guay, the coach of the Lake Superior Biathlon team, shared his photos of the day.
Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.