THE Australian Masters Biathlon Team, made up of members who ski at Perisher, ranked third behind Finland and Russia at the 2014 International Masters in Kontiolahti, Finland.
With a record 154 international biathletes entered for the competitions from 10 nations, the small team of five from Australia, Peter MaCartney, Sue Donoghoe, Friedl Bartsch, who all ski at Perisher, and Lauri Jortika and Bob Cranage, performed well ahead of most of the northern hemisphere nations with a total of two Gold and one Silver medal. For those unfamiliar with the sport of Biathlon, it incorporates the extreme physical activity of cross country skiing with the intense mental activity of target rifle shooting. The biathletes must ski a FIS rated track with their rifle on their back and then shoot targets at a distance of 50m at the shooting range in the snow.
The 17th International Biathlon Masters Competitions were held in March, two weeks after the major IBU competitions at the World Cup Biathlon centre in Finland some 6 hours north east of Helsinki.
With outstanding performances from Sue Donoghoe from Belconnen (ACT) winning Gold in the Individual and a Silver in the Sprint events and Bob Cranage from Wodonga (Vic) winning a Gold in the Individual, Australia out ranked more favoured nations such as Ukrainia, Germany, Latvia and the USA who were also in the medal tally.
The other Australian team members, Lauri Jortika from Sunbury (Vic), Peter MaCartney, Belconnen (ACT) and Friedl Bartsch from Wollongong (NSW) all had personal best performances and surprised many northern hemisphere competitors who had already been participating in local and national biathlon competitions leading up the these final international championship races. Given that the Australian team had only a short period of time to adapt to the significant effects of jet lag, time zone and temperature differences and not having the benefit of preceding competitions due to the southern hemisphere summer temperatures, the Australian team results are remarkable to say the least.
Anyone who is interested in the sport of Biathlon can participate this winter in events at Perisher Valley in NSW and Mt Hotham in Victoria.
Those interested in Masters Biathlon can contact Friedl Bartsch by email at firstname.lastname@example.org