Biathlon Australia says it’s thrilled with the direction the sport is heading following the completion of two recent camps at Mt Hotham.
Biathlon is the most watched winter sport in Europe but in Australian there is only a small following, however participation is increasing while our athletes are building a presence on the world stage.
Strong growth in a short period
Participation at the second of this month’s two camps proved how much the sport has grown in a short time according to Biathlon Australia coach Luca Bormolini.
The annual Biathlon Australia Futures Stars Camp, which took place for a week from July 8, saw nearly 30 people aged 8-16 learning and developing cross country skiing skills and rifle shooting.
“This is my fifth year in Australia and I remember the first year of the Futures Camp, we had about 10 people and this year 26, so nearly three times as many,” Bormolini said.
The camp for the next generation of potential Australian biathletes involved staying together in Omeo, fun games and activities on top of practicing the sport’s two main disciplines.
Regional development camp
A week earlier was the IBU-IOC Oceania Regional Development Camp which was run by IBU Technical Committee member Matej Kordez.
Ten athletes and three Oceania Region coaches from Australia and New Zealand were involved in the camp which is held every two years alternating between the two countries.
Despite Australia and New Zealand being trans-Tasman rivals in most sports they also travel together and share resources during the northern winter and have even created unions with other developing biathlon countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Spain.
Despite a lack of snow for the IBU camp, Bormolini said it allowed the athletes to spend more time honing their shooting while undertaking other forms of intensive training.
Australia's top female biathlete
Australia’s top female biathlete Jill Colebourn took part and Bormolini believes it’s her performances that are helping to raise the profile of biathlon in this country.
In the 2018/19 IBU season, Colebourn became the first Australian female in 20 years to qualify for a Biathlon World Cup and the first Aussie woman in several years to compete at the Biathlon World Championships.
“When I arrived there were only a few people involved but now we have more people competing and getting better results,” Bormolini said.
“It’s very important that people like Jill keep improving and that all Australian athletes keep improving because in Europe the skiing is getting faster and faster.”
Coaching at Whiskey Flat arena
Bormolini will continue to work with high performance athletes over winter and also offer his services to individuals wanting one-on-one coaching or looking to get into the sport.
People can book a session with the former Italian national team member who said the Whiskey Flat arena - the only biathlon facility in Australia - is a great location to train or learn the sport.
“The cross-country skiing is great because the course is very technical with good uphills and downhills, and we have a very good relationship with the groomers,” Bormolini said.
“Also, with 15 lanes on the shooting range there is room for a lot of people.”
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