Sari Furuya, of Japan, shows her skills at the Snow Farm
biathlon range yesterday. Photo by Luca Boromlini.
After a successful first visit to Snow Farm this month
for training and selection races, Japan's Olympic and
university biathlon squads are already planning a return trip
The Japanese biathletes have spent the past two weeks at the
cross-country skifield on the Pisa Range and have been
impressed by what they have seen.
Team leader Kyoji Suga and manager Hiroyuki Deguchi said they
had brought the squads to Snow Farm for the ''altitude, great
trails and biathlon range'', and on the advice of
International Biathlon Union (IBU) expert Ubaldo Prucker, who
ran a IBU/International Olympic Committee Oceania development
camp there in July.
Mr Prucker is becoming an increasingly strong international
advocate for Snow Farm, which he believes has the potential
to host world-class biathlon events.
The Japanese team had originally planned to hold its
selection races for next February's Sochi Winter Olympics
during its Snow Farm visit.
However, those were postponed, while selection races went
ahead for the Winter World University Games in Trentino,
Italy, in December. Japan will send five representatives to
the Sochi Olympics - one man and four women, and a six-strong
team to the university games.
Mr Suga and Mr Deguchi said Snow Farm measured up well
against European training venues the Japanese teams would
usually visit at this time of year.
The pair confirmed they would return to Snow Farm next year,
but arrive earlier in the season.
''We think in July. The trails are always groomed well, the
shooting range is always in perfect condition and the
accommodation is really close to the tracks.''
Wanaka Biathlon Club chairman Phill Thomson said there had
been a ''real increase'' this season in international teams
at Snow Farm.
''And next year I think it's just going to keep ramping up.''
The Japanese biathletes leave for home today.