The biathletes headed to Prince George, B.C. for the Canada Winter Games next month to represent the NWT will also all be competing for the bragging right of their home town.
For now, however, Clell Crook, Kjel Crook and Andrew Lirette are training hard to get ready, joined by the entire team out at the Hay River Ski Club.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Clell said. “We’ve been training a lot, and going down to quite a few races.”
Not only are the three biathletes representing Team NWT at the games all from Hay River, so are the head coach and manager, as well as a wax technician with strong connections to the community as well.
“I’m just looking forward to the trip and having fun,” said Kjel.
Andrew Lirette agreed that training has definitely ramped up in the last few weeks, but said he’s more excited than nervous heading into the games. The boys took a trip down to Canmore, Alta., to train with an Olympic coach and participate in the biggest biathlon race in North American history.
“It’ll be good to go and compete and meet new people,” he said. “Bigger races are really different from the ones at home… they’re more crowded, but they’re a lot of fun.”
Coach Pat Bobinski is a veteran of many of international and national games and said training was coming along well. Not only have the three boys been travelling to more races, they have also been joined by other members of the biathlon team, most recently in Grande Prairie, Alta.
“We got together with the Fort Smith club and did some collaborative coaching,” said Bobinski. “Generally, I think the kids did quite well.”
Some members of the club also headed out to Fort Smith last weekend for another race to keep up the momentum.
“It was really neat, I think, to collaborate with Fort Smith,” he said. “It was great to go down to Grande Prairie as an NWT team and work together.”