Biathlon team busy despite lack of snow

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.
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 biathlon exchange.

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.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz