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Johnston medals as biathlon begins

Tyler Waugh

Sara Johnston of the Hinton Nordic Cougars had a strong start to her biathlon season last weekend in Canmore, bringing home a silver in the sprint event on opening day and a gold medal in the pursuit race Sunday.

Johnston, who competes in the Dev. 1 division, shot a perfect five for five in one of her three trips to the range as part of the four loop circuit. Her perfect performance not only helped her garner gold, but also earned her a chocolate bear paw for a perfect shooting award.

Johnston and eight other Cougar teammates were among around 300 athletes from Canada and the US who hit the course each day in Canmore as part of the Noram Cup/Calforex Cup circuits. The Cougars, in their first competition of the season, had to deal with some blustery conditions on the course.

“The wind did not ever stop on either day, which made shooting for the athletes a little more difficult, which usually means more penalty loops to ski,” said Tammy Johnston of the Hinton Cougars, adding that Sunday’s weather was warmer, but no less windy than Saturday. 

“The entire race team had learning experiences and takeaways from the weekend. A broken trigger blade on a rifle caused our support team and one of our racers stress, but we will be better prepared if we have a similar experience.”

The Saturday sprint involved three loops of skiing and two bouts of shooting. The Sunday pursuit had Dev I and II racers ski four loops and shoot three times while Senior and Masters athletes skied five loops and two shooting rounds prone and two shooting rounds standing. 

Masters Men Ryan Tew and Jeannot Desaulnier, Sr Boys Ronan Tew and Bohdi Walker and Sr Girl Amelie Burkinshaw, and Dev I boy Chad Scobie all had better Sunday pursuit results. Thomas Hengel in Dev II and, Cooper Johnston in Dev I had better Saturday sprint results.  

The annual Hinton race – which is also both a Noram Cup and Calforex Cup event – is being held on Jan. 11-12 this season, which is earlier than usual. 

“We hope to draw racers from across the continent to compete,” Johnston said. 

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