The sun and warm weather bring out the best in the young Caledonia Nordic Ski Club racer; Calgary’s Klafki takes the podium in senior girls
Aliah Turner couldn’t have picked a better time to run the race of her life.
She knew early in Monday’s 7.5-kilometre pursuit at the Canadian Senior Women’s Biathlon Championships that she was unlikely to catch Calgary’s Nadia Klafki, whose sharp shooting prowess early in the race gave a good lead.
But Turner, 15, sporting the colors of the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club, was at home, having grown up skiing the slopes of the Otway Nordic Center almost since she started walking, and she used her knowledge of the course and a beautiful -engine tuned to hold off the rest of the field of 42 athletes.
She turned on the jets sprinting through the flats and crossed the finish 24 seconds after Klafki finished her race and collapsed in exhaustion, struggling to catch her breath after pushing herself for her first national title.
Klafki, competing for Foothills Nordics, went a career-best 18-for-20 and stopped the clock in 23 minutes 51.1 seconds. Fourth in Sunday’s sprint, Klafki started the chase 15 seconds after sprint winner Flora Csonka started the chase. Klakfi got to the range first and cleaned up her two prone shooting bouts, then had just one penalty in each of her standing sessions to hold on to her lead.
“(Shooting) was better than usual so I’m really impressed,” the 15-year-old Klafki said. “I had a better mindset than I had in the whole season, so it was really fun to come here and race and have a good time.
“The sprint could have been better, and it was nice to have another day to work on it. I love the course here, you just have to go up and down and it’s really fast. It’s the race the longest I’ve done all year.
Sixth in the sprint, Turner left the gate 10 seconds after Klafki and the Otway crowd let her know straight away that they were behind her. She hit 16 of 20 targets, four in each fight, one of her best displays of marksmanship under the duress of a beating heart.
“I’m really grateful to everyone who came out to cheer me on and my coaches really helped me out,” Turner said. “All of these girls are all so talented, so finishing second is important to me and special.
“It just meant a lot more to be home. It’s a beautiful facility and for the rest of Canada to see it and share it with us makes it even more special because we love it here. Each practice is like a training session for these four days of racing and our coaches (Ali Cadell and Simon Lamarche) prepared us so well for it. The home field advantage certainly helped. It’s the highest I’ve reached and I can’t wait to go further.
Turner comes from an athletic background. Her father Pat Turner won Olympic gold in figure eight rowing in 1988 and her mother Nadine Caron was a dual-sport athlete at Simon Fraser University, playing for the varsity basketball team from 1988 to 1992 and for the soccer team in 1993.
“I always bother him about that (medal) and he’s so humble about it and that’s something that I always admire because it doesn’t define him,” Turner said. “It’s just the experience and minus the medal, so that’s always what I strive for, the experience and not the ranking. And, of course, placement helps with experience.
“Both my parents love sports and have always taught me to love sports, so doing biathlon, which I believe is one of the greatest sports, is something that comes naturally to my family and most of our friends. in the city.”
Two other Caledonia skiers made it to the podium in Monday’s afternoon session (see other article).
In the women’s 10 km pursuit, Sarah Beaudry finished second behind Megan Bankes of Calgary, her relay partner a few weeks ago at the Beijing Olympics. Moira Green of Prince George finished third in the women’s youth pursuit, joining Foothills skiers Anna Marino (gold) and Ema Chlepkova (silver) on the podium. Beaudry also finished second in the women’s sprint on Sunday, while Green won her sprint race.
Foothills’ Luke Hulshof won the senior men’s pursuit, completing the 7.5km course in 27:33.8, 17.1 seconds ahead of Sea to Sky Nordics’ Graham Benson, who took silver, and 4:38 ahead of the silver medalist. bronze Cole Germain of Biathon Yukon, the winner of the sprint.
The morning session also included the Masters Men and Masters Women categories.
Jeannot Desaulniers, a 61-year-old pulp mill maintenance worker from Hinton, Alta., wrapped up his second win of the competition by winning the men’s 50 masters pursuit.
Canmore’s Chris Elden was just 6.1 seconds off the pace and won his second silver, with Bulkley Valley’s Bryan Swansburg third (+43.8).
Desaulniers is relatively new to biathlon, having picked up the spirit five years ago as a cross-training activity for mountain bike racing. His two victories at the national championships are a breakthrough in biathlon for him.
“I’ve had kids in different sports and I’ve always volunteered and said once my kids grow up I’ll start that, I love competition,” Desaulniers said. “I wasn’t going to come, but the guys said, ‘You should go. I said I couldn’t touch anything (on the shooting range), but they said, “You can ski”. I guess you’re never too old.
In Sunday’s sprint, he shot cleanly in his prone round, and as far as Desaulniers was concerned, the rest was gravy. After missing all five standing targets in the sprint, he went 5 for 10 in the two standing bouts of the pursuit, having hit half of his prone targets.
“I shot 50 per cent today but it’s not good because every one of those penalty laps you do is 100 yards,” he said.
Monday’s fast conditions pushed him over the edge in the icy corners but he kept his balance and was rewarded for it.
“Coming down that hill was sketchy, but that’s where I saved a lot of time,” he said. “If you don’t live on the edge, you don’t live.”
Desaulniers thanked the volunteers behind the scenes and along the route for making the national event possible.
“If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here, they’re the unsung heroes,” he said. “We, we are only old men who play. In the end, it’s always the same guys at different events and you get to know them. It’s camaraderie. »
Other medalists in Monday’s morning session were: Women’s Masters 35 – 1. Lea-Marie Bowes Lyon, Bulkley Valley, 34:39.7, 2. Callie Lancaster, Bulkley Valley, +3.13.6; 3. Michelle Simone, Kenora Nordic, Ont., +6:44.9; Women’s Masters 50 – 1. Jacqueline Hitchinson, Fast and Fossil (Canmore), 367:09.9; 2. Deborah Hall, Foothills Nordic, +58.7; 3. Claudette Maltais, Charlo (NB), +6:02.2.
After a day of training on Tuesday, the races resume on Wednesday at 10 a.m. with mass start races for the IBU categories (men, women, junior women, junior men). The individual event will be presented for non-IBU classes during the afternoon race session (1 p.m.). The event concludes Thursday with single mixed relays starting at 10 a.m. (IBU classes) and 1 p.m. (non-IBU classes).