New Zealand biathlon team members on a training exchange in Sweden at present are (from left) Tristan McKenzie, of Gore, team manager Nadine Cagney, of Wanaka, assistant manager Ashleigh Trainor, of Blenheim, Alex Thomson, Olivia Thomson, Paul Wright and Katerina Maluschnig, all of Wanaka. Photo supplied.
Members of New Zealand's largely Wanaka-based winter biathlon
team have not let a lack of snow slow them down during the
northern hemisphere leg of the first New Zealand-Sweden
The exchange scheme was launched in New Zealand this winter
when two Swedish biathletes and their coach spent time
training at Snow Farm on the Pisa Range.
The New Zealanders' trip to Sweden reciprocates that visit,
and is partly funded by the International Biathlon Union
(IBU), with support from the Swedish biathlon federation.
The seven-strong team - including manager Nadine Cagney, of
Wanaka, and her assistant Ashleigh Trainor, of Blenheim -
arrived in Stockholm a fortnight ago and spent time watching
the racing at the IBU World Cup in Ostersund.
''The Swedish federation treated the team as VIPs so they had
the chance to mingle with the top athletes in our sport,''
Biathlon New Zealand chairman John Burridge said.
The New Zealanders had since returned to their base in Sveg
for training with Erik Albinder, the Swedish coach who was at
the Snow Farm in July.
Mr Burridge, who is not on the trip, said snow had been in
short supply in Sveg, and Mrs Cagney had reported driving an
hour to get to some snow for ski training last week.
While waiting for the weather to play its part - which it
eventually had during the past few days - the team had been
working on combination training at the range (running and
shooting) in temperatures as low as -9deg C, and enjoying ice
skating, curling and swimming sessions to keep active, Mrs
Cagney wrote in an email.
The New Zealanders' Italian coach, Luca Bormolini, who works
for the Snow Farm, joined the team in Sweden last week, along
with a group of Australian biathletes who are taking part in
the scheme but are not funded by the IBU.
While most of the team will arrive back in New Zealand on
Christmas day, Olivia Thomson and Katerina Maluschnig, of
Wanaka, will remain in the northern hemisphere to train for
the Biathlon Youth/Junior World Championships in Presque
Isle, Maine, in the United States, in February and March.
They will compete there with Canadian-based New Zealanders Tu
and Leah Clothier. It will be the first time a New Zealand
relay team has featured at a major IBU event.