SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – Royal Canadian sea, army and air cadets have occupied Slemon Park.
About 130 youths, aged 12-18, from all across Canada have arrived in Summerside to compete in the final stage of the 2018 National Cadet Biathlon Championship.
They’ve battled their way through zone and provincial level competitions to represent their home cadet corps or squadron and province at the contest.
And now they’re on a mission to go for gold at the Brookvale Provincial Ski Park.
Another 19 participants will act as cadet coaches and 51 as cadet officials.
It’s all starting with the opening ceremonies on today and continue through Saturday, March 10.
Maddison Clements is in her sixth year of air cadets and now competing in her fourth national championship. She’s been to Martock, N.S. and Valcartier, Que., twice.
Last year, she and a teammate came in second in a team event.
The 18-year-old from Tyne Valley is back home for this year’s competition and was pumped to train on the trails at Brookvale. But, with the lack of snowfall this year, she didn’t get a chance, she said.
“Everyone is in the same boat. At least we know the trails.”
She feels good about being not only a part of the biathlon, but the cadet program as well. It has taught Clements a lot of leadership and communication skills, she said.
“It’s a lot of hard work and commitment. But at the end of the day, you can be proud of your achievements.”
Anne Morcet is also entering her fourth national championship and may have a leg up on the competition by already being familiar with the trails.
The 16-year-old sea cadet from Sherbrooke, Que., also competes individually in civilian biathlon competitions and just recently finished the Eastern Cup here at Brookvale.
It’s like two different worlds, Morcet said, comparing the cadet and civilian competitions.
“Everybody’s here to have fun. It’s a team thing. It’s really nice and more relaxed. It’s more like family than on the civilian side because it’s more competitive.”
The cadets have helped Morcet to learn a lot about herself. She has developed organizational and leadership skills through cadets, she said.
“Now it’s my turn to give back. That’s what the program gives you.”
Maj. Scott Rowe, the biathlon championship director, said the cadets are excited and really pumped up to be here.
“They’ve worked hard. Some of these cadets, through the various levels of competition, have tried many times to get here and weren’t successful. But, now they’re finally here.”