Pat Bobinski, the N.W.T.'s 'Mr. Biathlon,' dies at 77

Pat Bobinski, a longtime Hay River volunteer who was instrumental in developing the sport of biathlon in the territory, has died at the age of 77.

Bobinski intermittently president of N.W.T. Biathlon since 1978, delivered clinics across territory

Pat Bobinski ties snowshoes with a youth. Bobinski coached biathlon in the Northwest Territories - both ski and snowshoe - for more than 40 years. (Biathlon Canada/Facebook)

Pat Bobinski, a longtime Hay River volunteer who was instrumental in developing the sport of biathlon in the N.W.T., has died at the age of 77.

Bobinski first came to Hay River in 1966, returning for good two years later to work as a fishery officer. His interest in biathlon sprung from competitive shooting, where he was an internationally certified instructor and won a silver medal at the Canadian national championships for the .22 sporting rifle.

In 1978, Bobinski became the president of the Northwest Territories Biathlon Association, a position he would hold intermittently until his death.

In 1990, Bobinski won a gold ulu in snowshoe biathlon at the Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife, on his 50th birthday.

"Without Pat, there would be no biathlon in the N.W.T.," said Patti-Kay Hamilton, a friend and fellow biathlon coach, in an email.

"That would mean a lot less medals for the North at [the Arctic Winter Games], Canada Games, nationals and yes, the Olympics.

Hamilton referred to Bobinski as "Mr. Biathlon." 

Bobinski's most well-known charge may be Hay River's Brendan Green, who won a gold medal for the territory in cross country skiing at the 2007 Canada Winter Games before representing Canada in biathlon at two Olympic Games.

Bobinski was Green's first coach; the pair began working together when Green was just nine years old.

He was also known for travelling across the Northwest Territories, delivering shooting and biathlon clinics to hundreds of Northwest Territories youth. In 2010, he was awarded Biathlon Canada's June Hooper Award, in recognition of his contributions to the sport of biathlon. In 2007, he was recognized by the territorial government as the N.W.T.'s outstanding elder volunteer of the year.

Outside of Biathlon, Bobinski worked for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans until his retirement in the 1990s. He also served as a justice of the peace for more than 40 years, until he was forced to retire at age 75.

"He was a man of great humanity and considerable wisdom," said Christine Gagnon, chief judge of the N.W.T. Territorial Court.

"The Territorial Court and the Justices of the Peace are saddened by his passing and we offer our sympathies to the family."


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