After four intense days of skiing and marksmanship, flight corporal Nur Rabiah Harim Nor could finally relax – if only for a moment – at the closing National Cadet Biathlon Championship ceremony held at the Credit Union Place in Summerside March 9.
Nor was among 129 youth aged 12-18 who battled their way through local, zone and provincial level competitions to represent their home cadet corps, squadrons, provinces and territories in the quest for biathlon gold.
“It’s a great opportunity to be with the top biathletes of Canada, while representing P.E.I.,” said the Summerside resident, formerly from Ontario with family originating from Singapore. “I think my family are proud of me and I’m honoured to represent P.E.I. for a second year.”
Hosted for the second time on the Island at the newly renamed Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park in Brookvale, the championship series combined cross-country skiing and precision marksmanship with penalties for every target missed.
“This is the 31st actual competition and the second time it’s been hosted in P.E.I.,” said Maj. Scott Rowe, championship event director.
“Our first attempt last year was very successful and the feedback has been very positive from all the athletes.”
Cadets came from as far north as Artic Bay in Baffin Island, said Rowe.
“For many, it’s their first time being exposed to the Island way of life, but it’s a good experience for everyone.”
The cadet biathlon program is open to Royal Canadian sea, army and air cadets of all skill levels. It aims to strengthen Canadian communities by instilling positive military values in youth while developing leadership skills, citizenship and an appreciation of a healthy active lifestyle.
“Some of the older cadets were skiing 10 kilometres on the trails in Brookvale,” said Rowe. “And if you don’t hit your targets there’s a penalty and you have to ski more.”
But the pride of representing a home province or territory, camaraderie on the field and friendships that continue to last outside, make it all worthwhile.
“Being a cadet pays off in spades. You could be a 16-year-old applying for your first job and already have quite a resume with all these life skills,” said Rowe.
The cadet biathlon aims to develop youth in endurance, strength, power, precision and calm under pressure.
“There were times I thought I couldn’t continue, like when I was skiing uphill,” said Nur. “But I kept my focus and kept on pushing to make it over. I realize from the experience that I can do far more than what anyone might think possible, as long as I don’t give up.”