Arctic Winter Games biathlon team holds camp in Hay River

Members of the NWT biathlon team gathered in Hay River on Feb. 18 and 19 to prepare for the upcoming Arctic Winter Games.

Hay River’s Chuck Lirette, head coach of the team, said the camp included 15 snowshoe and ski biathletes, along with four coaches.

The biathletes came from seven communities – Fort McPherson, Aklavik, Inuvik, Fort Good Hope, Yellowknife, Deline and Hay River.

“This camp really makes a big difference,” Lirette said, explaining the biathletes get one-on-one support and help to become better shooters, skiers and snowshoers. “The kids feel a lot more comfortable about their sport by attending and
participating in the camp.”

They were fitted with equipment, taken through range procedures and gun handling to ensure safety, and familiarized with the different race formats at the Arctic Winter Games, which will be held in Whitehorse.

In addition, they got to know their teammates and coaches.

“So it’s a multipurpose camp,” said Lirette. “We’re really fortunate to have it before we get to Whitehorse and are doing this for real.”

The biathlon team is made up of eight boys and seven girls, ranging in age from 12 to 17.

Michaela Crook, a 12-year-old snowshoe biathlete from Hay River, enjoyed meeting the team.

“It’s nice because we don’t really know our other teammates, so we’re starting to get to know them,” she said. “So that’s pretty cool.”

Brennan Firth, a 15-year-old snowshoe biathlete from Fort McPherson, noted the camp stressed gun safety.

“I’m into hunting, so it’s good practice,” he added about the shooting aspect of the sport.

Christopher Lirette, a 16-year-old ski biathlete from Hay River and son of the head coach, is getting ready for his third Arctic Winter Games and is impressed with this year’s team, noting there are many strong shooters, skiers and snowshoers.

The Hay River camp was a chance to meet other members of the team, he said. “It’s basically just so you will get to know everyone so you’re not trying to get to know them while you’re at the games.”

The Arctic Winter Games will be held from March 4-10.