Every year Finland hosts the world masters (over 35s) International Championship for Biathlon. A small group of Australians travel across the globe to the land of lakes and snow for the event. But what’s it like? I’m interviewing Robyn from Australia who travelled to Finland to compete.
So, Robyn how did you first get into Biathlon?
It was through a friend. I was in Albertville, France, site of the 1992 Winter Olympics with my friend Friedl competing in a world Loppet race. Friedl convinced me to have a go at the shooting and so on my first attempt I knocked down all five targets. I knew I could do it from that point on.
And what about Cross Country skiing? How did you get into that?
Well I’d skied downhill since I was 12 years old. In my mid 30s I started cross country skiing and soon I was going to World Loppet races around the world.
The funny thing is that as a kid I’d always loved archery and roller skating and so it kind of coming full circle.
How long have you been in Biathlon?
I bought my first rifle last year. I competed in my first Biathlon races last year at Mt Hotham, Victoria, Australia.
How was Finland?
It was excellent. It was very well organised, the food was great, the people were friendly, the Finns were really nice. The hotels were good quality, without being too expensive. Shopping was great too.
The snow wasn’t that good but the tracks are refrigerated and they store snow from the year before.
What was the level of Competition like?
There was a wide range of abilities from the very serious, and good, to people who were doing it for the first time.
Participating in the Hotham races in Australia was a really valuable experience as a pre-curser to Kontiolhati.
So it was lots of fun?
Oh, yes. There was lots of socialising and you meet people from all over the world.
Where do you stay?
You stay in the city of Joensuu and there is a bus, put on by the organisers, that takes you to the events at Kontiolahti every day.
What would you say to anyone who was doing it for the first time?
The course isn’t too difficult so don’t be worried about that. The paperwork for the rifle can be a bit tricky but Bob Cranage is able to help Australians with that.
They have a waxing service at the range so if you don’t have the waxing equipment or don’t want to wax your own skis then you can pay someone else to do it.
How did you go?
5th in the relay with Irene Dunn (Another Aussie).
6th out 9th for my race (and I shot the best out of the group).
Are you planning to do it again?
If you are an Australian interested in going to Kontiolahti or in the sport of Biathlon in Australia then please contact us.