Smithers’ Callie Lancaster crosses the finish line during the Canadian National Biathlon Championships in Hinton

Smithers’ Callie Lancaster crosses the finish line during the Canadian National Biathlon Championships in Hinton

Lancaster, Tweedie return from biathlon nationals with medals

Callie Lancaster and Angus Tweedie brought home a handful of medals from the Canadian/ North American Biathlon Championships

Callie Lancaster and Angus Tweedie can call themselves some of the best biathletes in Canada after bringing home a handful of medals from the Canadian/ North American Biathlon Championships in Alberta two weeks ago.

Roughly 165 racers battled warm weather conditions in Hinton, Alberta that most cross-country skiers are not used to competing it.

“It was very warm so the skiing was slow  because it was hard to wax for,” said Tweedie, who made his third appearance at nationals.

“Being from the North, I’m not used to that.”

In the afternoon, temperatures warmed up to seven degrees Celcius, turning the snow into slush for the masters races.

“The snow, as you can imagine, was more like slush,” laughed Lancaster.

“Those don’t sound like long distances, but the slushy conditions made it feel like you’re doing double-time because it’s a lot of work.”

Despite the conditions, Lancaster, who was the only masters woman from B.C. to compete at nationals, brought home three medals — gold in her individual race, bronze for the 6-kilometre sprint race and silver in the 7.5-km pursuit race.

“We were really happy about that. We went there and competed and did well,” said Lancaster, who made her first appearance at nationals.

But it was Lancaster’s silver-medal pursuit race where she was pitted against a familiar competitor that made for an exciting finish.

She went neck and neck with Team Alberta competitor Julia Keenliside, who she raced during nationals in Prince George last year.

“I was right behind her, we were in the range at the same time every time,” said Lancaster. “It was just on the last lap, I took a little bit longer in my shooting and she got one penalty lap ahead of me and I couldn’t catch her in the slusher.”

“It’s just that little bit of extra time [on the range]. It’s about one target that can make or break a gold or silver and that’s what’s exciting about it,” she said.

After the close race, Lancaster tweaked her strategy going into the individual race the next day.

“I was going to be as fast and efficient as I could in the range and I was,” she said. “I knew I was skiing well on the course and that’s what I did and it paid off and I got gold.”

Angus Tweedie also picked up bronze in the youth relay.

“I was the starter for my team and it was pretty much a rat race to get to the range,” said Tweedie, noting that the senior, junior and youth men’s groups all started at the same time.

“I hit three targets right off the bat and I used two of my three spares to clean my target. Then I came back in from my standing and hit all five right away.”

Though Tweedie performed well on the range, he hopes to continue working on his skiing for next season.

“I’m going to be increasing my ski speed and work on my shooting a lot more,” he said.

In total, Team B.C. walked away with eight gold medals, four silver medals and four bronze medals.

The championships mark the end of the season for Lancaster and Tweedie.