CORNER BROOK Rita Jane St. Croix always enjoyed the benefits of cross-country skiing, but biathlon became her baby five years ago when she joined the cadet movement.
St. Croix is a flight sergeant with the 708 Stephenville Air Cadet Squadron where she has been a force on the biathlon scene in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The 16-year-old Level 1 student at Stephenville High will be among the cadets — army, air and sea — who will be participating in the 2014 provincial cadet biathlon championships Saturday and Sunday at Blow Me Down Trails in Corner Brook.
“I’ve been a skier all my life and the biathlon I enjoy it so much because there’s the added excitement of coming into the range,” St. Croix said Thursday. “I just love being able to shoot at the targets, and it’s the best feeling in the world when you get your targets down. It is just really exciting.”
St. Croix has represented the province at the national cadet biathlon championships on two occasions, her most recent appearance being one year ago in Val Cartier, Que.
In past years, St. Croix and her fellow cadets across the province participated in biathlon with their rifle marksmanship limited to shooting from the prone position. However, this year cadets will get a chance to shoot from the standing position for two of the four trips to the range. Cadets will also be shooting at the much smaller national standard target for the prone position instead of firing at the much larger targets that have been the norm on the provincial scene until the change this year.
She admits this year’s event will be different with cadets getting to show their talent shooting from a standing position so she is both excited and nervous.
“Standing is a much harder form of shooting because it’s harder to keep the gun steady, you have to hold it with your arm,” she said
Having fun hanging out with people with shared interests has a lot to do with why she considers biathlon her favourite sport. But, make no mistake about it, St. Croix means business on the biathlon course, having competed on the national scene a couple times and currently training with visions of cracking the roster for the provincial team bound for British Columbia for the 2015 Canada Winter Games.
She really wants to experience another national tournament. It’s become something she doesn’t want to miss out on as long as she has a chance to seize it.
“I’ve never been to Martock’s trails before, apparently it’s easier than the Quebec trails which were all uphill and brutal, but I’m really excited,” she said. “Nationals is always a lot of fun seeing the cadets from across Canada. Cadets is such a great organization because you get to travel with people who have the same interests as you and all the people that go up it’s great competition because I get to go up against people who are more my skill level.”
Saturday will see cadets hit the trails for a sprint race beginning at 1 p.m., while Sunday there is a pursuit race scheduled for 10 a.m. at Blow Me Down Trails.