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Local biathletes will wear provincial colours at Canada Winter Games


Newfoundland and Labrador’s biathlon squad for the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta. is comprised of six athletes from the west coast.

Stephenville’s Jesse Byrne, Sam Parsons and Claire St. Croix will join Corner Brook’s Lucas Hann, Zachary Strickland and Katie Thistle on the biathlon trails in Red Deer.

The Western Star caught up with the province’s top biathletes this week to get their thoughts on the journey to the Games.

Jesse Byrne, Stephenville

Name: Jesse Byrne

Age: 20

Hometown: Stephenville

Parents: Mark and Millie Byrne

Years in the sport: 8

Favourite part of the sport: It’s hard to pick a favourite. I love how there is so much to the sport. There is always something to work on to improve your performance and always something new to learn. I also enjoy all the people you get to meet. There’s never a dull moment in biathlon.

What has been the toughest challenge trying to prepare yourself for competition against the best biathletes in the country?

The biggest challenge is trying to balance training and school where I’m doing a degree at Memorial University. That’s the hardest for me, trying to balance the two. I’m always trying to find a happy medium of whether I should be studying or go for a run.

What is the best advice you received to help you with your development at this stage?

I think the best advice I ever got was that you’re always racing against yourself. You’re not competing against anybody else … you’re always trying to better for yourself. When it comes down to it you got to do it for your own reason and the best advice I’ve ever received.

Katie Thistle, Corner Brook

Name: Katie Thistle

Hometown: Corner Brook

Age: 18

Parents: Cecilia and Fred Thistle

Years in sport: 8

Favourite part of sport: Learning new discipline skills and getting to travel to competitions

What has been the toughest challenge trying to prepare yourself for competition against the best biathletes in the country?

Probably motivation to go at it every day even though in the summer it’s so hot. When you’re not skiing every day it’s a lot harder (to achieve) what your main goal is.

What is the best advice you received to help you with your development at this stage?

The importance of perserverance. Even though it’s really difficult sometimes and you just don’t want to do it anymore just persevere and know that in the end when you get to race and be there, it’s really fun. Also, in the end ultimately you should have fun with what you are doing.

Lucas Hann, Corner Brook

Name: Lucas Hann

Hometown: Corner Brook

Age: 16

Parents: Jeanie and Scott Hann

Years in sport: 5

Favourite part of sport: My favourite part of the sport is the competitiveness aspect of it and the people you meet along the way in the sport. Also, the feeling of flowing through the snow on skis is just amazing.

What has been the toughest challenge trying to prepare yourself for competition against the best biathletes in the country?

The toughest challenge would be finding time to train. With being in school, cadets and everything else it’s kind of hard to find time to train constantly. I just find it hard to train to be at the level I need to be.

What is the best advice you received to help you with your development at this stage?

I’d say the best advice I’ve ever been given is to try my best when it comes to training. Let’s say I only have 15 minutes free in the day … use that time to stretch or something so that I can improve my training and my fitness.

Zachary Strickland, Corner Brook

Name: Zachary Strickland

Hometown: Corner Brook

Age: 17

Parents: Todd and Colleen Strickland

Years in sport: 5

Favourite part of sport: transition from skiing to shooting

What has been the toughest challenge trying to prepare yourself for competition against the best biathletes in the country?

I find it hard to stay motivated to do continue the training. There’s a lot of work involved with preparing for competition. It’s challenging to keep doing it. It’s hard to keep at it when there is a lot to it.

What is the best advice you received to help you with your development at this stage?

Work hard is what our coaches always say. Keep it in the back of my head during races that it is important to work hard and keep going and that’s been helpful.

Claire St. Croix, Stephenville

Hometown: Stephenville

Age: 16

Parents: Madelyn and Sebastien St. Croix

Years in sport: 6

Favourite part of sport: The electric atmosphere at competitions

What has been the toughest challenge trying to prepare yourself for competition against the best biathletes in the country?

The mental aspect of it has been challenging. Going into races and settling down knowing that there were such well-prepared and very strong competitors coming towards me and just being able to deal with that mental strain and really getting my shooting down. Your mental state is really a big factor in how well you perform.

What is the best advice you received to help you with your development at this stage?

My coaches told me to go into every competition with a positive outlook on what I was doing and to put it my head that everything was going to be the best I could do and that really translated in what I was doing. A positive outlook and a positive self-talk really help my performance.

Sam Parsons, Stephenville

Name: Sam Parsons

Age: 16

Hometown: Stephenville

Parents: Ken and Amanda Parsons

Favourite part of sport: My favourite part about the sport has to be the challenge. Every race is a physical game and mental game, and with every competition you’re constantly putting yourself to the test and personally I love to see progress in myself.

What has been the toughest challenge trying to prepare yourself for competition against the best biathletes in the country?

I would have to say it’s my mental focus. It’s really hard to keep yourself on track being distanced from your coaches and you have to constantly remind yourself to stay focused and keep giving it your all.

What is the best advice you received to help you with your development at this stage?

Best advice given to me is to work really hard if you want something. If you don’t want it, you’re not going to give it your all and you’re not going to do your best. You got to want it and you have to strive for it.

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