A cadet based in Sidney blew away the competition during the South Island Zone Biathlon at Mount Washington in early January.
Cadet Warrant Officer Christina Matchett and 66 other competitors took part in races on Jan. 12. Matchett claimed first place in the Youth Female category.
Cadet biathlon – also an Olympic sport – is intense, she explained. The sport involves a fast-paced cross-country skiing race followed by a marksmanship test. Once the athletes have skied up to 10 kilometres as quickly as they can, they must relax and focus on taking precise shots at targets using a rifle. In one race, cadets can be asked to shoot up to 20 targets. All this is done while the clock is running.
The race on Jan. 12 included a 5.1 kilometre stretch of cross-country skate skiing followed by the shooting of up to 10 targets. Matchett finished in 33.53 minutes – a personal best – and hit seven targets which she noted was the second-highest of the competition.
Matchett, originally from Comox, has been a cadet for seven years and a biathlete for four. When she moved to Saanich to study earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences at the University of Victoria, she transferred to the 676 Kittyhawk Royal Canadian Air Squadron (RCACS) in Sidney.
Matchett noted that everyone in her family has been a cadet – her parents even met in the cadets program – so it’s in her blood. However, the young athlete doesn’t see herself continuing on in biathlon to the Olympic-level as she hopes to one day work for Fisheries and Oceans Canada as a researcher and pilot.
Aside from being a student, athlete and cadet, Matchett is also a cadet coach and team captain for the 676 RCACS seven-person biathlon team. The squadron had no biathlon team until Matchett transferred and started one.
Capt. Cheryl Major, public affairs officer for the Regional Cadet Support Unit, emphasized that Matchett is one of 676 RCACS’s “rising stars.”
Following her win at Mount Washington, Matchett and her team have set their sights on the provincial competition which takes place in Vernon in February. She’s hopeful that she’ll qualify for nationals to represent B.C. in Valcartier, Que. in March.
Matchett encourages anyone interested in trying biathlon to attend a civilian introductory day through the Vancouver Island Biathlon Club at Mount Washington.