B.C. cadets Emmanuel Bussani and Ethan Algra were about to wrap up their March 5 patrol race at the National Cadet Biathlon Championship at the Myriam Bédard Biathlon Centre in Valcartier

Langley siblings shine at cadet biathlon nationals

Emmanuel and Ariel Bussani skied and shot in frigid Quebec as members of Team BC.

It quite literally takes thick skin to be a biathlete.

The sport involving cross-country skiing and rifle shooting is held in frigid climes.

Such was the case earlier this month when Valcartier, Quebec hosted the Cadet National Biathlon Championships.

Among the 130 cadet biathletes who competed at the Myriam Bédard biathlon center March 2 to 7 were Aldergrove siblings Emmanuel and Ariel Bussani.

It was cold in Valcartier – bone-numbingly so. The first day of competition was cancelled because the temperature had dipped to minus-30ºC.

If conditions drop to minus-20 or lower, biathlon events are nixed for the safety of the athletes.

After that it “warmed up” to about minus-14ºC, and 12-year-old Ariel said, “I kind of wore a lot of layers.”

The competition itself was, as expected, as demanding as the conditions.

After skiing fast and hard, biathletes must calm themselves to take accurate and controlled shots at targets 50 meters away.

In a single race cadet competitors can ski up to 10 kilometers and shoot 20 targets.

Fresh off a bronze medal performance at the BC Winter Games in Penticton, 14-year-old Emmanuel had a fantastic few days, teamed with his partner, 13-year-old Abbotsford resident Ethan Algra.

They finished first, not only in the junior male category for patrol race but also in the open male category, bringing together all the 12- to- 18-year-old male biathletes, which allowed them to win a pair of gold medals.

The patrol, specific to the cadet biathlon program, requires athletes to stay together throughout the race.

Emmanuel and Ethan finished their patrol in 24 minutes, 14 seconds.

They also took second in the junior male relay race with a time of 47 minutes, two seconds.

The relay involves a simultaneous start of the first athlete of the various teams. When a participant completes a loop, he must pass the baton to his partner.

Ethan also took home the Nikke Keddie award, given to junior male cadet with the highest cumulative aggregates from his individual races results.

He also finished first in the junior category for mass start where all biathletes start at the same time which makes this competition nerve-racking and full of surprises.

Individually, Emmanuel placed fifth overall among junior boys.

Emmanuel said the key to his success in Valcartier was “probably just being mentally prepared and telling myself I could do well and that all my training is going to count for this race.”

The shooting aspect of the sport is something Emmanuel would like to improve upon.

“It takes a lot of concentration and lots of practice,” he said. “Your fingers and eyes, every part of your body, has to remember how to take a perfect shot. It takes a lot of muscle memory.”

Just like her big brother, Ariel won a silver medal as part of a Team BC squad that finished second overall in the competition.

Ariel and her partner placed seventh in the patrol team race and seventh in the relay team event, while in the individual race, Ariel placed 11th.

“I did meet my goal this year to get to nationals, but I was a bit disappointed I didn’t get podium place,” Ariel said. “That’s my goal for next year.”

Ariel said she’s drawn to how the sport combines strength and physical prowess with concentration and focus.

Ariel was not old enough to compete in the recently held BC Winter Games (minimum age of athletes is 13). And while Emmanuel competed and came home with a medal, it wasn’t the colour he was hoping for.

“I know I could have done better,” said Emmanuel, who was fighting a cold while competing at the Games. “Hopefully [I’ll do better] next time at the BC Winter Games.”

Biathlon is split into two parallel tracks – civilian and cadet. The Bussani siblings can compete in both because both Emmanuel and Ariel are air cadets.

Based on that performance at the provincial cadet championships (Emmanuel took home a gold and a silver, Ariel won a silver) both Bussanis were selected to B.C. team made up of 10 athletes – two junior boys, two senior boys, two senior boys, two senior girls, and two spares.

Their mom Lori said biathlon is more than just a sport, adding that her son and daughter are “the ones driving the boat.”

“They push hard; I never have to tell them to train,” Lori said.

“It’s not the medals, it’s just the journey,” she added. “They’re learning fantastic life skills. Emmanuel came in fifth [individually] and even though he wanted to get gold or silver, he still had a smile on face went up to the guys who did well and said ‘good job.’ That’s what makes me proud – the character and integrity being developed along the way.”

Just Posted

VIDEO: Giants earn 40th victory in a 4-0 triumph over Victoria

Vancouver G-Men move within a point of clinching the B.C. division banner at Friday’s at-home game

Developers to unveil plan to transform Aldergrove mall into new town centre

Community to find out new Aldergrove Town Centre plan for dormant 10-acre lot in heart of downtown.

Tardi and team playoff bound in junior curling worlds tonight

Friday night Team Canada’s men’s team faces off against Norway, hoping to secure a spot in the finals

Langley’s Hong takes silver in Winter Games vault

The Langley athlete completed a tricky move in competition to clinch the podium.

First phase of 208th widening in Langley Township budget

Work could star this year, if the council approves the first project.

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Man sentenced to 7 years for smuggling drugs and shooting at border guards in Sumas

Nathan Hall was arrested in Abbotsford in 2013 after day-long manhunt

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Most Read