Sask. Winter Games: Four different districts win biathlon medals

By Nathan Kanter
February 20, 2018 - 7:04pm

The big cities swept the mass start U-15 male biathlon, while Rivers West and Prairie Central medalled in the female U-15 mass start biathlon at Blue Mountain on day two of the Saskatchewan Winter Games.

Twelve-year-old Dawson Schigol from Saskatoon edged out 14-year-old James Grundahl of Regina for the gold medal in the male competition, finishing five seconds ahead with a time of 17:58. Nicholas Selinger of Regina, 15, won bronze with a time of 18:56.

The trio finished nearly two minutes ahead of the rest of the pack. All three also swept the podium on Monday in the sprint race, with Grundahl winning gold, Schigol winning silver, and Selinger winning bronze.

In Tuesday's female competition, 14-year-old Sarah Bargen from Rivers West won gold by nearly a minute, finishing with a time of 19:10. The Ritco sisters, respresenting Prairie Central, won silver and bronze, as Avery finished 23 seconds ahead of her sister Ashtyn.

The gold medal was Bargen's second of the Winter Games, as she won gold in the female sprint on Monday. The bronze medal was Ashytn Ritco's second medal of the games, after winning silver in the sprint.

The mass-start biathlon has athletes cross-country ski four 1 km laps, with each skier stopping after every lap (except the last one) to shoot five times with a .22 rifle at a prone target, from a prone position. For each miss, athletes must do a penalty loop.

The competition was marked by constant cheering and bell ringing from athletes, parents, and coaches, who were constantly encouraging the skiers, which Bargen said is normal for the sport.

"There's a lot of good community in this sport," the Medstead native said. "It's a pretty small community, so you know everyone and we hang out all the time at other races. We just all get along and there's no rivalries."

Bargen, who only missed three of 15 shots, said she knows athletes from other districts because all biathlon races in Saskatchewan are provincial races, so every competition has athletes from all the province.

When asked about what worked well for her in the race, the two-time gold medallist said she actually didn't start well, only hitting two of five targets after her first lap.

"That was my fault. I was blaming it on my gun and stuff but it was actually my fault," she laughed. "Then I came in and I slowed down my breathing and I was like, "Okay, I'm going to hit all of these', and then I did."

Bargen also joked that she dressed warmer on Tuesday, which helped as well.

On Wednesday, the mixed relay will take place at 11 a.m., which is the final biathlon competition at the 2018 Winter Games.


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