A local woman has returned from a world-class biathlon competition in Quebec with some impressive new hardware.
Callie Lancaster, who was the only athlete from the Bulkley Valley to compete, brought home two gold medals and one bronze from the biathlon races at the Winter World Masters Games in Quebec City two weeks ago.
“It was cold conditions, it was challenging,” said Lancaster.
“It was such an amazing experience to participate in a world masters event. I was just delighted to be there. It was such a great experience . . . It just gives you a lot of techniques to work on in a real positive way.”
Roughly 1,500 people from all around the world descended on Canada to compete in nine winter sports at this year’s Winter World Masters Games, including alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, curling, ice hockey, long and short track, marathon skating, snowshoeing and triathlon.
In Lancaster’s first race, she battled -18 degrees Celsius conditions to finish in first place in the 7.5 kilometre race with a time of 37:29.
“It was really cold, but still the experience was fantastic,” she said. “I survived Quebec in -18 skiing. In our first race, they actually shortened it a bit, we usually come into the range four times, but they shortened it to three times because it was so cold.”
She also finished the five kilometre biathlon sprint in 32:24 to win gold, and skied alongside athletes from Whistler and Italy in the six kilometre biathlon relay race to capture bronze.
Etienne Letondeur, the head coach of the Sea to Sky Nordics that Lancaster trained with in Quebec said she holds her own against the top biathletes in the world.
“She did really well and skied really fast,” said Letondeur. “She really managed her race smartly, she didn’t start too fast.”
He added she’ll have to work on her standing shooting and skiing, but was quick to note her enthusiasm for the sport.
“She’s really keen and already talking about going to another event like this next year . . . She’s one of the best in her age group in Canada for sure,” he said.
Though she was the only competitor in the 40-44 age category, Lancaster is still proud of her performance racing alongside athletes from all over the world.
“There was a great big group of people from Finland, a big group of Slovakians and Russians and it was so amazing to see them and meet them and share podiums with some of them,” she said.
This is not the first race that Lancaster has done well in.
In preparation for the World Masters, she competed in the local B.C. Cup races earlier this year and finished first in her respective category.
While Lancaster is quite ambitious, competing in several races a year and practicing at the Bulkley Valley Nordic Centre roughly five to six times a week, her passion for the sport flourished only three years ago.
She initially took on skate skiing before trying her hand at biathlons.
“I tried the biathlon after and thought ‘this is so fun,’ I have a lot to work on, but I’m up there at a competing level now so I’m quite happy about it,” she said.
“It’s a challenging thing — you’re skiing as fast as you can ski and then you have to calm your heart rate down and get yourself in your zone to shoot. It’s just an incredible combination of sport. I think one of the most challenging and rewarding sports that you can do in the winter.”
Since the World Masters only happen once every four years, Lancaster will be in the older age category next time, but that isn’t going to stop her.
“In four years, I definitely want to try and do it again,” she said.