Track Attack Video Challenge – voting ends soon

Remember to share your videos with your club. The most number of views is the winner of the Track Attack Video Challenge. Voting ends Friday March 3rd at 5PM!

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End Of Season Update – Erin Yungblut

Hey family, friends, sponsors (and the many that are a blend of those)!
Happy Spring! Hard to believe this winter is over, but as the ski trails here get rougher and the sunshine warmer, the fresh start and changes spring brings are kind of exciting.
I’m back in Canmore for the rest of March and April, doing some easy training on snow for as long as I can and working more… kickstarting the “skier’s New Year.” We call it that, because this is the time we relax a little, reset, and make goals and plans for the year ahead. I’ll be in Canmore for this time period, except for a short visit home at the very end of April, to get some much-needed family time, and recovery adventures in the woods of northern Ontario!
I had a great last race tour of the season, racing in the Czech Republic and Italy. I had probably the best race of my year in the two-woman relay (a new event) at the Czech National Championships with my teammate Emma. It was very rough snow conditions (a thin layer of slushy, dirty snow) and we were super jet-lagged but I skied hard through the soft conditions and avoided the penalty loop, bringing us home in fourth, not bad for a field full of the Czech, Polish, and Canadian IBU Cup teams. I raced another sprint in Czech before we headed back to the mountains, of the Italian sort this time, where winter was waiting for us again. I had a solid week of training leading into the final IBU Cup races of the year, and though the results were nothing spectacular (in the 40’s, but very close to that coveted top-40), I still left Val-Martel with some positive experiences. I finally got out of my 80% shooting rut in sprints in this trip, hitting 9/10 in both sprints (missing that silly first target in one, and last target in the other). I also put down some solid range and ski times, definitely fading in the last loop as the altitude took its toll – this race site is even higher than Canmore – but fighting hard to the line. I also got to start, for the first time, the mixed relay in Italy – I’ve always been the second leg in mixed relays, or anchor in other relays. It was nerve-wracking racing head to head with the best women on the IBU Cup, but I used our fast skis and my pack-skiing ability to carry me on the course, and shot smoothly and pretty quickly as well. I am no longer apprehensive of racing the athletes in Europe – right now, about half of them on the IBU Cup are still stronger and faster than me, but they’re not untouchable! It was a shorter tour this time, but we were still able to really enjoy racing and traveling, getting spoiled with spectacular weather and food in Italy. I don’t think there are many things more enjoyable than a strong cappuccino and fresh hunk of apple strudel, except maybe fresh ravioli and proscuitto. Not to rub it in or anything. Don’t worry, I’m eating lots of kale and bruised fruit from the free bin right now:)
Early spring is also the time I evaluate everything I’ve done training-wise, racing-wise, and life-wise in the past year, and look ahead to make positive changes for the coming months. It’s also the time I realize most just how important my supporters are to what I do; not just financially (though the cheques right around now would seriously be bouncing without you) but also emotionally. I am so lucky to have some truly amazing companies, businesses, friends, and family backing me up and cheering me on, and believing in this crazy dream of mine. I don’t know exactly what the year ahead will look like just yet, but I do know I will continue to train for biathlon and compete for Canada for another season. I’ve said every year I would make that decision each spring, and so far the fire is still burning very, very brightly. With the way this season worked out, in terms of my racing, my Canadian teammate’s, and retirements at the end of this season, I see myself as one of the top six female biathletes in Canada, and I’m only a second year senior (and coming off a rebuilding year at that). In 2018, four will get to represent Canada at the Olympics, and four always race full-time on the World Cup circuit. I truly believe I can keep climbing my way up the ranks and break onto that team over the next couple of years, with the support of my coach, team, and all of you!
I’ve also come to peace with idea that I might not make that goal, and, surprisingly, that’s ok. It’s kind of scary to accept that your dream might not come true – I may never make it to the Olympics, or stand on an international podium – but I’m ok with that. It’s ok because all the amazing experiences I’ve had, all the neat people I’ve met, all the tough lessons I’ve learned, and everything else along the way has shaped me into the person I am right now, and the person I will be over the next couple of years. I was never one to take the easy road, and I think that counts for something in life and sport. I have finally got a blog up and running on my website, and will post some musings on some very random things from time to time. Here is the link – I’ve posted a couple so far, the most recent a tough one for me to put out there – and I hope you’ll enjoy reading some insight from an athlete (I apologize in advance if they get boring or mundane).
After all that, I hope you and your family and friends have a lovely Easter this coming weekend, and enjoy the start to spring. I’ll be in touch again after my month of skiing, sunshine, making some money, and evaluation..with more details on the year ahead!
Happy Skier’s New Year!
Erin
ps. The first picture attached shows the very sad snow situation in Czech, green/brown with only the stadium and trails “white-ish”…and of course the race day braids of my teammate Emma and myself (rocking our Fast and Female buffs, of course). The second shot is training on the range here in Canmore, and the last shows the area we stayed in in Italy from near our hotel…some glorious winter weather there, and some high altitude making for breathtaking views and race efforts:)
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Biathlon Nationals 2016

Highlands Team 2016MassStart2photo 2TeamPoster

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Nationals 2016 Gang

Smiling faces saying “Hi” from Cross-Country Ski Nationals

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National Biathlon Relay – Sofie Czerny

This past Sunday, March 20, the Highlands Trailblazers biathlon team participated in the team relays at the national competition in Valcartier, Quebec. The weather was wonderful, with clear, sunny skies and warm temperatures, but still cold enough for fast skiing! The snow was hard packed and icy in a few places, making for exceptional climbing and super speedy downhills. Overall, the conditions were fantastic! Perfect for the final afternoon of racing.

In biathlon, a relay race is made up of a team of three people from the same age category- in this case, senior boys and girls. In Sunday’s race, each member of the team skied three loops of the orange course (1.5 kilometres) and shot a total of two bouts (one prone and one standing). The great thing about a relay is each participant is allowed to take eight shots per bout (that’s eight bullets to hit five targets!!). After each team member skis his or her last loop, he or she tags off the next person on his team, except for the final team member who crosses the finish line.

Overall, the Highlands biathletes skied and shot phenomenally. With all shooting scores combined, the average for the team was 70 percent, which is fantastic, and the ski times were even better! Sunday was a great day both on the trails and the range, many people obtaining personal bests with regards to shooting. The team relay was a great way to end nationals and was enjoyed by all. The Highlands team had great time at nationals and the experience was wonderful. We would like to thank everyone who made this trip possible: parents, coaches, volunteers and our supporters back at home.

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Biathlon Nationals Update

Wednesday, March 16th 2016

Val Cartier, QB Canada

(3 X 2km) 6 km Sprint

Prone-Standing

Before we get started, on behalf of all the HTB athletes racing at nationals, we would like to thank all our supporters for helping us get to where we are today. Making it to nationals would not have been possible without the help of our dedicated coaches. We would also like to thank all of our parents and the volunteers for making this season possible.

Race Conditions:

Morning

Weather: Foggy, Cleared up as the morning went on

Temp: 3°C,

Wind: SE 5km

Humidity: 97%

Snow conditions: Wet, slow and very soft with some puddles: “Slushy”

Overall HTB shooting percentage: 37%

Afternoon

Weather: Sunny

Temp: 6°C

Wind: Calm

Humidity: 78%

Snow conditions: Wet and slow. Very soft with some wet spots (especially in the penalty loop)

Overall HTB shooting percentage: 52%

The sprint race was the first of our four races at nationals. We were sent out individually and penalty loops were used. Starting our races today was a crazy experience because it was every Highlands athlete’s first biathlon nationals. Despite the difficult snow conditions, all HTB athletes were still skiing speedy quick and everyone kept up their amazing technique! The honorable mention of the day goes to Sofie for having the highest HTB shooting percentage today: an outstanding 8/10!

Finally, congats to the entire team for successfully finishing our first biathlon nationals race, there is only more fun to come!

-Miski & Braden

Thursday, March 17/2016: Pursuit

The pursuit style biathlon race is based off of the results of the sprint race the previous day. In a typical race, the skiers are sent out in the exact order that they finished the day before, except in 5 second intervals. Conditions today were frozen and speedy quick and Highlands athletes were spotted flying up hills all day. Many of us had a less than favorable sprint race on Wednesday and had a lot of time to make up today, which we did with both grace and style (we look as good in red as we do in blue). Some examples of the renowned Trailblazer fortitude are Wyatt Knowles, who made up an impressive 8 places, starting in 40th and finishing in 32nd, Hannah Skelton who moved from 26th into 13th, one of the two top 15 results Highlands has achieved this week, and Aiden Tullio, making up 13 places to go from 44th to 31st. Although we didn’t experience the heat wave-like weather of the sprint day, there were some challenging conditions on the range. In the morning the boys were tested with a heavy fog that had coaches standing on the firing line with their scopes to get a clear(ish) view of the targets down range. The fog cleared up for the ladies in the afternoon, but by then snow was falling thick and fast, not ideal for rifles that need to stay dry! Despite the challenging conditions of the day, and the struggle to make up time, I think we speak for all the Blazers here in Val Cartier when we say we had a stupendous day out on the trails!

Hannah and Aiden, signing off

 

Individual race

The individual race was a staggered start for both the senior boys and girls. Racers started 15 seconds apart. There were no penalty loops, but a minute was added for every missed shot. There were four range visits, prone – standing – prone – standing. The total course length was 7.5km.

 

Morning:

The temperature was about -20 with wind gusts and sunny skies. There were great skiing conditions, with a good groom. There was a bit of ice and chewed up snow on the down hills, but overall the course was fast. Shooting was difficult because of changing winds and the bright sun. Overall, the Highlands boys did well with strong skiing.

Afternoon:

The temperature warmed up a bit for the afternoon races, staying at about -10. The wind was still strong, and it was still very bright and sunny. The conditions were still really good on the up hills, but the down hills became very fast and icy. Shooting went better for the girls in the afternoon, but the wind still made it very tough. The girls skied really well.

-Tash & Wyatt

 

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First Monday Of Nationals – By Oliver Grocott

Hi everyone! Day 2 of racing is behind us and we are all currently relaxing and appreciating the first rest day of the trip. This give us lots of time to get down to working on the assignments some of us are missing back home. Testing for tomorrow’s mid-distance 7.5k skate is underway with Rick and Simon are out at the site (By this point they may as well bring mattresses and pillows out with them). It’s a beautiful sunny day in the Yukon and we’re all appreciating the snow and below zero weather.

Yesterday was another massive day for Highlands, with some exceptional racing from our juvenile racers. Erik finished up a viciously quick 5k with a 4th place result for the second podium of the race week for the Trailblazers. In the Juvenile Girls category, Tess and Olivia held it down for the team, both managing to pick up points for Highlands. Tess finished 7th and Olivia finished 30th (Shout out for grabbing points in her first ever Nationals race!)

The juniors had some mixed results as racing at midday made the waxing especially difficult. I managed to pull out a strong finishing position, ending up 23rd junior boy and 6th for my age. Heidi and Mackenzie left it all out on the course but struggled with rapidly changing conditions.

We’re just picking up speed here, plenty more great races and experiences to come. We’ll keep you all posted!

-Ollie

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Nationals 2016 has begun! – By Tess & Erik

Nationals 2016 has officially begun! The team is readily enjoying beautiful, wintery Whitehorse. With a fresh bout of snow, well- suited trails, and prepared athletes, Nationals has been incredible so far. The week was initiated with the Team Sprint Challenge event, an exciting event that consists of three legs of 1km for each teammate. An exchange zone is setup where athletes tag their partners at the end of their lap. Highlands had three teams racing in the event; Erik and Oliver, Heidi and Tess, and Camille and Sam. Both teams qualified for the final, laying it all on the line. Truly, it was an awesome introduction to a week of great racing.

The boys, Ollie and I had big dreams going into this race. We both had the goal of reaching the final, and knew this was an achievable feat but also lofty. The boys challenge consisted of 3 heats with about 18 teams in each one. To qualify, they needed to be top 2 in their heat or one of the next 4 fastest times. This means that out of the 50+ teams in the race, only 10 would make the final. Going into the semi-final, Highlands was ranked 11th out of eighteen teams in their heat. Ollie took the race out and worked his way up to 2nd before his exchange. Throughout the race, we stayed on are toes, powered up those hills and worked are guts out. In the end, our team finished 5th and qualified to the final as the 4th fastest lucky loser! After a solid warmup and recovery session, the finals began with the top 10 Canadian teams racing! Both Ollie and I had the races of their life and skied are hearts out. It was an amazing experience with cheers calling our name and team supporters who motivated us all the way through. We finished 6th in the final and were absolutely ecstatic with are accomplishments. It was a fantastic race and a goal we can check off our lists!

Heidi and I also had an amazing day. Racing alongside some of the strongest teams in Canada was very exhilarating- certainly a great way to begin Nationals. Heidi and I work well together, completing a warmup that would enable us to perform our best during the sprints. We has a smooth qualifying heat, sitting in second at a comfortable pace. The day was warm and crisp, and we were very excited to show Canada what we can do in the finals! After a full year of working cohesively during workouts and time trials, racing together will definitely be a memory that will last a lifetime. The finals began, and Heidi was off on her first lap. She took an amazing lead and set up our team really well. It was so incredible seeing Heidi come around that corner, awaiting her tag. During the second and third lap, we retained a podium placing, tight behind first and second. Heidi finished her last lap beautifully, giving it all she had. We both laid it all on the line and “emptied the tanks”. Hearing all of our supporter and teammates cheer was a huge highlight of the day. The Highlands community is something so special and unique.

Team sprints was definitely a great day for Highlands, working as a team and showing Canada the importance of teamwork and community! Thanks again on behalf of all the racers for all the support, it was an awesome day!

Cheers to many great races ahead!

Tess and Erik

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A message from Biathlon Nationals

A picture of our athletes with Christian Gow who won the Men’s Pursuit race on March 17th. He is wearing the gold medal he won last week for the mixed relay at the world championships.

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Soo Finnish Track Attack Video

Even though we are past the deadline Soo Finnish wanted to show off their video! Well done team!
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=J6AqNr56MNA&feature=youtu.be

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