Two local athletes will represent Park City at the Junior World Biathlon Championships in Austria later this month. They both Nordic ski with the Park City Ski and Snowboard Team and train for shooting with the Soldier Hollow Ski Club.
Soldier Hollow Senior Sport Manager and Biathlon Coach Zachary Hall said the biathlon program has been around for four years. Because of COVID transmission problems, the biathlon trials were canceled so they had to use more discretionary qualifiers.
“The US Biathlon Team, their coaches were looking at both cross country race results and regional biathlon race results. And we were fortunate to be able to host cross country races here over the last several weeks and then also have a couple time trials for biathlon. So, we were able to get our kids some relevant results.”
Wes Campbell is a 17-year-old junior at the Park City High School. He’s been Nordic skiing for six years and started training with the biathlon team four years ago. In the Junior Biathlon World Championships, he will represent both the Park City Ski and Snowboard Team and the Soldier Hollow Biathlon team. He said shooting the rifle is the fun part, but his strength is skiing.
“Really just looking forward to like being able to compete in an international race and being able to be in competition from all over the world. And I think that will be really neat. It'll be really fun to see how I compare to everyone else.” Sidney Bennion is 16 and a junior at Wasatch High School. She’s been a Nordic skier since she was in fourth grade. She also skis for the Park City Ski and Snowboard team but trains biathlon with Soldier Hollow.
The whole reason why I like biathlon so much, it's just because it's the shooting aspect with the skiing. I like having a really hard effort and then you're having to come in and focus for you shoot and you have to focus on two completely different things. I think it's just a really unique combination to have, something that I probably wouldn't ever have seen myself doing.”
They’ll depart for Germany on the 22nd, and then go to Obertilliach, Austria for about 10 days of competition.
“So, the athletes will do several individual races and then there is also a relay competition. And in each of those there is a combination of your ski speed and in essence your accuracy, what you're shooting for. The Clock just runs during a biathlon competition.”
The Youth and Junior Biathlon Championships will be at Soldier Hollow in 2022. Hall will go to Austria to coach and to take note of what’s needed to prepare for hosting the championships here on the Wasatch Back next year.