The Yellowknife Ski Club was another busy spot in town this past weekend but it was a different kind of busy.

A total of 20 biathletes from Yellowknife and Hay River lined up for the second set of Polar Cup races; the first set of races happened at the Hay River Ski Club earlier this month. The races were held over Saturday and Sunday with day one featuring interval starts and day two seeing the mass start events.

When it comes to the Yellowknife results, Mina Lockhart was a double-winner on the weekend as she won both of the races in the juvenile girls division with Leah McShane finishing runner-up on both occasions. Nikolas Hawkins flip-flopped places with Hay River’s Hunter Groenewegen in the juvenile boys division – Hawkins won the interval start race with Groenewegen snagging the mass start victory.

The other double-winners on the weekend included Jaxin Coombs, Kason Coombs and Elie Lepage, all from Hay River.

Doug Lockhart, head coach of the Yellowknife Ski Club’s biathlon program, said he was happy with how his team of six did over the course of the weekend, especially in a year of re-building in the biathlon program.

“Our focus this year has been on re-developing the biathlon program at the ski club, increasing athlete participation and developing capacity,” he said. “The ski club has been very supportive of what we’ve been doing.”

Nikolas Hawkins re-loads the chamber after taking a shot during the juvenile boys 4-km race in the Polar Cup 2 event at the Yellowknife Ski Club on Saturday. James McCarthy/NNSL photo

Like every other sport, it’s been a lean year in terms of competition – no travel outside the territory for obvious reasons – but Lockhart said it’s actually been a positive.

“It’s allowed us to re-focus on what we’re doing here in the NWT,” he said. “If you count this past weekend, some of our athletes have been skied four weekends in a row. It’s also given some of the kids a chance to travel and compete where they may not have had that chance (Pat A. Bobinski Memorial Races in Hay River and Polar Cup 1 in Hay River) so there’s been a huge benefit of being able to stay here in the territory.”

The end goal for this season was to try and get the athletes ready for the 2022 Arctic Winter Games but with that being postponed indefinitely, Lockhart said it’s all about continuing with training and expanding on what’s been built so far.

“The Arctic Winter Games are a great goal but that’s not the hook,” he said. “It’s all about the kids because they’re great salespeople. Those kids who competed this past weekend can go back to school and tell everyone they got the chance to do biathlon.”

But the Games are on the mind of Chuck Lirette, one of the Hay River coaches and a past Team NT biathlon coach.

He said with the cancellation of the Games in 2020 and the indefinite postponement of the upcoming Games, it could mean tough times for biathlon.

“Time is moving on and some of these kids are going to change in terms of their competitive categories,” he said. “The younger kids only shoot in the prone (position) but if the Arctic Winter Games are delayed, they’ll have to do prone and standing (when they move up) and standing is a big transition. It takes around a full season for most kids to make that transition and get them comfortable shooting standing.”

Here are the results from both days of action:

Saturday interval start

Biathlon Bear 2-km

1st – Jaxin Coombs (HR), 10:13.0

2nd – Elijah Engen (HR), 14:23.5

3rd – Davin Swallow (HR), 17:59.0

Midget girls 3-km

1st – Clare Engen (HR), 18:14.1

2nd – Avery Groenewegen (HR), 20:05.8

3rd – Adele Russell (HR), 25:20.4

Midget boys 3-km

1st – Kason Coombs (HR), 15:26.2

2nd – Sebastian Berrub (YK), 22:54.3

3rd – Sachey Pellissey (HR), 23:44.5

Juvenile girls 4-km

1st – Mina Lockhart (YK), 20:08.4

2nd – Leah McShane (YK), 21:36.3

3rd – Millie Hunt (HR), 29:49.3

Juvenile boys 4-km

1st – Nikolas Hawkins (YK), 23:36.6

2nd – Hunter Groenewegen (HR), 28:39.0

Junior girls 3-km (novice)

1st – Penelope Berrub (YK), 26:09.8

2nd – Lexus Pellissey (HR), 26:54.6

Junior boys 5-km

1st – Elie Lepage (HR), 23:42.2

2nd – Grayson Groenewegen (HR), 26:20.6

Senior girls 4-km (novice)
1st – Annika Pellissey (HR), 36:18.0

Sunday mass start

Biathlon Bear 1.5-km

1st – Jaxin Coombs, 7:24.4

2nd – Elijah Engen, 7:31.1

3rd – Davin Swallow, 12:35.9

Midget boys 2.5-km

1st – Kason Coombs, 12:03.3

2nd – Sebastian Berrub, 14:53.0

3rd – Sachey Pellissey, 17:50.4

Midget girls 2.5-km

1st – Avery Groenewegen, 13:46.3

2nd – Clare Engen, 14:57.6

3rd – Tessa Stewart, 15:53.7

Juvenile girls 3-km

1st – Mina Lockhart, 14:28.7

2nd – Leah McShane, 15:13.4

3rd – Millie Hunt, 22:44.3

Juvenile boys 3-km

1st – Hunter Groenewegen, 19:19.1

2nd – Nikolas Hawkins, 22:52.4

Junior girls 2.5-km (novice)

1st – Lexus Pellissey, 17:40.9

2nd – Penelope Berrub, 17:42.8

Junior boys 3.75-km

1st – Elie Lepage, 19:00.9

2nd – Grayson Groenewegen, 21:02.1

Senior girls 4-km (novice)

1st – Annika Pellissey, 24:58.9

source: NWT Biathlon

James McCarthy

I've been hanging around the office as the sports editor for the better part of the last 16 years. In August 2022, NNSL Media decided to promote me to the managing editor's position, which I accepted after...

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