For 15-year-old West Kelowna biathlete Makenna Banser, there’s nothing quite like conquering the uphill battle.
“It’s so hard during the race when you’re pushing up the hills, but as soon as you get to the top and you get that little bit of downhill, it’s like, ‘This is why I did it. I just killed that hill, and I can keep going’,” Makenna said.
Approximately 100 racers from around the province and Washington state headed to West Kelowna for the B.C. Biathlon Championship.
“It’s the final race of the year, so it’s a big event where athletes are trying to qualify for nationals,” said Michelle Banser, Mackenna’s mother and chairperson for Telemark Biathlon.
Biathlons involve a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.
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“Biathlon is one of those really crazy sports where you’ve got the skiing, and you’ve got the shooting, and you’ve got to try to get your heart rate down to try to shoot,” Banser said.
Mackenna said biathletes need to have a high mental focus.
“Once you miss a target, sometimes you have to ski a loop where you’ll get a 40-second penalty, and it’s just so hard to get it out of your head to keep skiing,” Makenna said. “But you don’t know about other people’s races, so their race could be going not so well either. It’s not over until it’s over.”
Makenna proudly sported an old red and white uniform passed down from Pyeongchang Olympian Julia Ransom.
“It makes me so excited because she grew up here as well, so it’s like racing in my hometown and her hometown, and it’s just awesome,” Makenna said.
“It’s amazing. You get to look up to her, and she inspires you, and you get to inspire her by cheering her on and always being there for her,” she added. “And she’s always there for us, so it’s awesome.”
Makenna said she’s hoping to make the development squad. She’s got her eye on nationals for next year.
“My goal is to give it all that I had because this is the last race, so I need to show off how much I’ve improved since last year.”