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Cougars capture medals at Games

Kurt Scobie Photo

Bodhi Walker (51) of the Hinton Cougars is being chased by teammate Thomas Hengel (48) and other competitors Feb. 16 during the Dev. II/U16 boys mass start race at the 2020 Alberta Winter Games. 

Tyler Waugh

Hinton biathletes brought home five medals from the 2020 Alberta Winter Games, including a pair of golds, as part of the Zone 5 team.

“It was a great experience all around. Lots to celebrate,” said Robin Hengel, coach of the Hinton Cougars, who was invited to the Games to help with the 14 biathletes representing Zone 5, including eight of his Hinton Cougars athletes.

“Overall we were very pleased with the team. Everyone was there to support each other when things weren’t going well and to cheer each other on during the start and finishes of each race.”

Mattias Vriend claimed one of each in the boys U12 air rifle II division with a bronze in the sprint, a silver in the individual race and a gold in the mass start.

Vriend finished the sprint in a time of 12 minutes and 45.5 seconds, the individual race in 20 minutes and 40.6 seconds and mass start in 14 minutes and 12.1 seconds.

Chad Scobie had Hinton’s other gold, taking top spot in the boys U14 Dev. I individual race, clocking in at 18 minutes and 19.4 seconds. 

Scobie also had a 10th place finish in the mass start with a time of 16 minutes and 51.3 seconds and an 11th place finish in the sprint with a time of 12 minutes and 21 seconds.

Simon Ruszkowski earned Hinton’s other medal, a bronze in boys U12 Air Rifle II boys mass start race with a time of 15 minutes and 27.3 seconds. 

“Simon had a great weekend. He had the one bronze and could’ve easily had another medal … it was that close,” said Hengel.

Ruszkowski’s other finishes were a fifth place in the boys sprint in a time of 13 minutes and 5.3 seconds, as well as a sixth place in 25 minutes and 25 seconds.

Hengel said that the biathletes had a slightly different Games experience from most of the other athletes due to the fact that their venue was in Canmore, meaning a long bus ride back and forth each day from the host community in Airdrie. The longest race, the individual competition, took place Saturday, followed by the mass start on Sunday and the sprint on Monday.

Sara Johnston, competing in the girls U14 Dev. I division, flirted with the podium in a couple races, finishing fourth in the sprint and fifth in the mass start.

Thomas Hengel had a best finish of sixth place in the U16 Dev. II boys individual race. Bodhi Walker, competing in the same division, had a best finish of sixth in the sprint.

Amelie Burkinshaw, competing in the girls U16 Dev. II division, had a best finish of seventh in the girls sprint and a pair of eighth place finishes in the individual and mass start races.

Cooper Johnston, competing in the boys U14 Dev. 1 division, had a best finish of 12th in the mass start race.

“We had a number of our athletes who had their best race of the season. We will be looking to use this confidence and build on it moving forward,” said Hengel.

The Cougars are back in action this coming weekend in Edmonton and host a Calforex Cup race March 7 – 8 at the Hinton Nordic Centre.

One other local, Lexi Byers of Brule, earned a silver medal as part of the Zone 5 ringette squad.  Byers was also part of the Zone 5 team that got silver two years ago at the Games.

Zone 5 finished fourth out of eight teams in the medal standings, collecting 22 gold, 17 silver and 16 bronze medals.