Vernon’s Danica Ariano (lane No. 3) prepares to shoot prone during the Biathlon Nationals in Charlo, N.B. (Photo Submitted)

Ariano gains bronze at biathlon nationals

Best showing for Team BC senior girls

Vernon’s Danica Ariano, representing Team BC, finished a solid fifth overall with one bronze medal at the Biathlon National Championships in Charlo, N.B.

New Brunswick was still wrapped in the throes of winter last week, having seen three nor’easter storms blow in in as many weeks, but the weather cooperated for the nationals.

Ariano, the lone Sovereign Lake athlete, started the event off with a bang, shooting 80 per cent in her first sprint race, and had a solid ski on the six-kilometre course to finish third.

“The course was very challenging,” said Ariano. “As you leave the range, you head directly up a hill fittingly named ‘OMG’, and finish into the range on a long, steep downhill affectionately referred to as ‘Jaws’.”

The pursuit race saw Ariano start close to the front, with five-second intervals separating racers, based on finishing order from the previous race.

Although not as happy with her shooting, Ariano still managed 70 per cent in the range, with two rounds of prone and two of standing. She had a solid ski on the five laps, clocking speeds of up to 56 km/hr on ‘Jaws’, but unfortunately a two-minute time penalty for a closed bolt saw her finish 10th.

The team relay was the next event, with two males and one female on each team. In the relay, each racer skis three laps and shoots twice. An allotted number of extra bullets are allowed for hand loading to shoot missed targets, and penalty laps are skied for any targets left standing.

Ariano was super happy with her race, cleaning both shoots with only one hand loaded bullet, and having the second fastest time in the senior girls. Her teammates, Emmanuel Bussani, of Abbotsford, and Joe Winkelaar, of Comox Valley, also had strong races, with the team taking third place.

The final event of the nationals was the Individual race, skiing 7.5 km and shooting four rounds. Ariano could definitely feel her tired legs, having to ski the long ‘OMG’ grind four times, but the Team Canada Olympians were out on course that day, and provided great encouragement to help racers push up the hill.

Other than her first round of standing where she didn’t feel solid, Ariano was happy with her other rounds, shooting 75 percent, cleaning her final shoot, and closing out her second Biathlon Nationals fifth, top performer overall for the Team BC senior girls.

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