Gowling and her WNDC teammates — 17
aspiring Canadian Olympians between the
ages of 17 and 21 — are the highest-level
biathletes training and competing in the
Sea to Sky Corridor. They’ve helped inspire
and mentor younger athletes, said Clay
Whitman, biathlon director with the Sea
to Sky Nordics, one of the local clubs that
trains at WOP.
Before WOP was built for the 2010
Olympics, biathlon was non-existent locally.
In its first year, Sea to Sky Nordics’ program
attracted 13 athletes of all ages. Last winter
that number was up to 75, Whitman said.
“It seems like as soon as people try it, they
stick with it,” he said. “It has those two
elements of the endurance skiing and the
precision shooting. People can be drawn to
either one of those, and the combination of
the two just makes it an exciting sport to
play as well as watch.”
Last winter, two WNDC members
from the Sea to Sky — Benita Peiffer
from Whistler and Larissa Black from
Squamish — competed at the Junior World
Championships in Estonia. Peiffer even
posted an impressive 11th-place finish in the
Youth individual competition.
“It’s really great for our young athletes to see
the [ WNDC] team, that if they work at it
and stick with it, that could be them down
the road,” Whitman said. “Having [WNDC
athletes] make it to that level and then
interact with our athletes, it just shows them
Training alongside the high-performance
athletes “has created a lot of motivation
for the younger athletes,” said Etienne
Letondeur, WNDC head coach.
According to Viviani, having athletes
training at the range also boosts WOP’s
public programs. “Basically, the athletes are
demonstrating the points we’re trying to
make even without meaning to,” she said.
“There are all kinds of questions that they
help us illustrate: Do you always shoot
left to right, or what about lefthanded
biathletes; or how long do they take to take
their five shots? That’s really valuable for
people to see.”
Experience and Discover Biathlon programs
are offered Saturdays, Sundays and during
the Christmas holidays.