Masha Scheele Photo
Competitors race downhill during the mass start event held March 7 as part of the Calforex Cup weekend hosted at the Hinton Nordic Centre.
Sara Johnston and Mattias Vriend led the way with a double gold performance March 6 -7 as the Hinton Cougars hosted a competitive field of biathletes for hte final Calforex Cup race of the season at the Hinton Nordic Centre.
Johnston (Dev. 1 Girls) and Vriend (Air II Boys) kicked off their weekend with a gold medal in the mass start event and then matched that finish the next day in the sprint.
Alexandre Vriend (Air I Boys) earned double bronze on the weekend, while Thomas Hengel (Dev. II Boys) earned a silver in the mass start, Simon Ruszkowski (Air II Boys) brought home bronze, Ryan Tew (Masters Men) earned silver and Jeannot Desaulnier (Masters Men) rounded out a great mass start day for the home team with a bronze of his own.
“It was a great day for all our racers – some great performances in the mass start regardless of whether they were podium finishes,” said coach Robin Hengel.
“All the work through the year definitely paid off. We definitely had the home course advantage in Hinton. The loops are competitors ski here are some of the toughest on the circuit.”
Chad Scobie finished fourth in the Dev. I Boys division mass start, Ronan Tew finished eighth in the Senior Boys division for the mass start and Cooper Johnston finished ninth in the Dev. I Boys division.
“Some of the competitors we were up against were competing at the North American circuit level and some were even going for nationals. This was a strong field,” Hengel said of the estimated 100 competitors that registered for the weekend.
Hengel and Ruszkowski came close the podium again the next day during the sprint, with each of them earning fourth place finishes.
Desaulnier finished fifth in his division, while Ryan Tew finished right behind in sixth.
Scobie finished eighth on Sunday, while Ronan Tew finished 11th, and Cooper Johnston and Amelie Burkinshaw both finished 13th.
“We saw a lot of growth from the kids this year. They just about all moved up an age group and they needed to build confidence as much as anything else. I think you saw that confidence build with the results of the last three weeks of the season starting with AWG (Alberta Winter Games) and Edmonton and then Hinton,” said Hengel, adding that he sees potential for bigger and better results next season.
“We are going to set up for success in our dry land preparation. We don’t have a lot of time to prepare in the snow before the competitions begin,” said Hengel.
The coach also commended the organizing committee and the volunteers for the job they did hosting, saying it was an honour for the athletes to compete at home.
“The committee was on top of everything and the conditions were great. Everything they could control they did, and you can’t ask for anything more,” said Hengel.