A young athlete will be representing the Cariboo on the B.C. Biathlon team at the 2023 Canada Winter Games in P.E.I. taking place Saturday, Feb. 18 to Sunday, March 5.
Jessabelle Trelenberg, 15, is one of eight members on the team made up of 15 to 18 year olds.
There are four females and four males on the team.
“I’m really excited,” Jessabelle said during a lunch hour interview in the library at Lake City Secondary School where she is a Grade 10 student.
“It was one of my goals for the year and I’m happy to have got to this point. I really want to thank my support team – my parents, coaches and volunteers who spend time grooming at Bull Mountain.”
Jessabelle said she has been cross-country skiing for as long as she can remember, probably starting when she was two or three-years of age.
Biathlon, she explained, is a military drill that combines skate skiing and target shooting, where the athlete does a lap of skiing then shoots at a target with a .22 rifle.
“Depending on the type of race, you do a different number of laps, but you always start with skiing.”
She started shooting with her dad at the age of nine or 10 just for fun or for hunting.
In 2019 she joined cadets and in 2020 joined the Cariboo Ski Touring Club and travels up to Quesnel one day on the weekend to train when she is not off competing.
The weekend of Feb. 10 through 12 she was in Whistler training and racing at the Biathlon BC Cup 2.
As for the Canada Games team, last fall she realized 2023 was going to be her opportunity year because there is only one chance in the sport.
“It’s a youth development thing. It goes from the B.C. multi sport games to the regional competitions and then to national level competitions which are nationals and the Canada Winter Games.”
After that athletes can progress to the Commonwealth Games and then the Winter Olympics.
To qualify she participated in trials in Vernon at the beginning of January where she competed in three races.
“We were given points based off our placings and based on that we were offered spots on teams for European tours and Canada Games. I was eligible for one of the European tours, but I did not get selected.”
Coaches for the B.C. team are Jessica Blenkarn, 2020 Biathlon Canada’s Female Coach of the year and head coach for B.C. and Chris Halldarson, biathlon head coach for Telemark Nordic Club in West Kelowna.
When asked what she likes about biathlon, she said the community, the challenge – which is both physical and mental, and cross-country skiing.
“I really do enjoy cross-country skiing and biathlon just adds another element of difficulty and takes a lot of mental performance.”
Other team members include Alexander Hatloe, Whistler, Liam Simons, Vernon, Tate Solomonson, Vernon, Parker Munroe, Vernon, Mia Rodger, North Vancouver and Aliah Turner, Prince George.
The team leaves from Vancouver on Thursday, Feb. 16.
Born in Vanderhoof, Jessabelle moved to Fort St. John with her family before settling in Williams Lake when she was three-years-old.
When she’s not on her skis, she enjoys 4-H, for which she is raising two cows this year, playing rugby, mountain biking and riding horses.
This term at school she is taking Science 10, Pre-Calculus 11, Band and English 11.
Eyeing the future she hopes to stick with biathlon, describing it as a fit-for-life sport.
“Even when I’m done competing, although I see my competing career going on for quite a few years, I would like to help coach at a local club or help other athletes.”
The origin of biathlon dates back more than 4,000 years when hunters travelled on skis in pursuit of game and the sport has been on the winter program since 1991, notes the Canada Games website.