Arctic Winter Games biathlon trials go indoors in –30 C weather

Thirty-five biathlon athletes are arriving in Hay River today to compete at Arctic Winter Games trials, but the athletes won't be skiing and shooting outside because it’s too cold.

35 athletes instead will compete inside school in Hay River, N.W.T.

Athletes compete in the snowshoe biathlon in the 2008 Arctic Winter Games. Trials for the sport will be held indoors this weekend, as temperatures drop to –30 C.

Thirty-five biathlon athletes are arriving in Hay River, N.W.T., today to compete at Arctic Winter Games trials, but the athletes won't be skiing and shooting outside because it's too cold.

Competitions will instead take place inside the community’s school.

Environment Canada is forecasting a low of –30 C in Hay River today, dipping down to a low of –30 C on Saturday. The current temperature in Yellowknife is –39 C, –49 C with the windchill. 

The president of the Northwest Territories biathlon association, Pat Bobinski, says Biathlon Canada's policy says if it's –20 C or colder, competitions can't be held outside.

“It's frustrating,” Bobinski says. “It’s disappointing for some of them because you have some athletes that are really really good skiiers so we won't be able to see their skiing ability as such, but we're left with no choice. We have to select and name a team for this weekend so that's what it is.”

Bobinski knows all too well the dangers of prolonged exposure to cold temperatures.

“Right now I cannot ski in anything that's colder than –15 C or I'll freeze my feet. I froze too much doing this sport when I was younger and figured I was invincible and so now I'm paying the price.”

Bobinski says two other biathlon events have been cancelled this weekend due to the freezing weather: the Polar Cup and the NWT Championship.  

This weekend, 16 athletes will be chosen to represent Team NWT at the Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks, Alaska, in March.

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