By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator


A competition that combines cross country skiing and rifle shooting in an exhilarating race, biathlon will be featured during week one of the Canada Winter Games, where athletes will compete at the Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park in central PEI. 


Ski and Shoot

In biathlon, you begin with skiing the course and then heading to the range to shoot targets with a limited number of shots. If you miss a target, you’ll have to ski a penalty loop or time is added to your score.

And while the origin of biathlon goes back 4,000 years, Melissa Davidson, Executive Director of Biathlon Manitoba, said it is also a sport that is evolving with technology, reducing its environmental impact, and adapting to climate change.

“The two key influences are the transition to optical targets (cameras) for precision, and building a summer biathlon season. The result eliminates the perceived risk, it’s more environmentally friendly, and it increases our mobility and access to sport,” said Melissa.



Team Toba Takes Aim

Heather Willis, Head Coach for Team Toba Biathlon, has been coaching for about 15 years and was the assistant coach for the last Canada Winter Games in Red Deer in 2019. She is also currently working on her Advanced Coaching Diploma.

She said controlling your mental state really comes into play during competition.

Mindset and focus are huge,” said Heather. “The ability to switch from high intensity skiing to calming yourself down to shoot is key. Also, letting go of how the last shooting bout went and not letting it affect your focus on the next ski loop.”

With the Games just months away, the athletes have been training all summer, including for some important upcoming events.

We have our Canada Winter Games selection event/early-on snow camp at the end of November,” said Heather. “We are incorporating a Calforex Cup (the AB cup race series) into the event. They will also have a couple Manitoba Cup races leading up to the Games.”

You can check out more details on these events here.


A Sport for Life

Melissa said most people associate biathlon on the Olympic stage vs. local participation. But Manitoba is home to a thriving biathlon community.

“In Canada, biathlon is an underground or hidden sport. Being part of the Canada Winter Games increases the awareness of the sport and the fact that youth can do it, too. Biathlon is a sport for life, and on the prairies it adds interest, and increases the level of difficulty to cross country skiing,” said Melissa.

Catch the Herd in PEI and follow @TeamToba on Instagram — your official source for Team Manitoba at the Canada Games.

To learn more about biathlon, visit Biathlon Manitoba’s website or reach out to them at