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NNSL Photo/graphic

Members of the 2860 Royal Army Cadets Corps Fort Simpson swept the podium at the Northern Regional Cadet Biathlon Championship. Cadets included, from left, back row: coach 2nd Lieut. Diane Porter, Jordin Snider, Josh Baton and Charlene Deneyoua; front row: Karlene Isaiah, Celine Gargan and Brandon Norris. - photo courtesy of Capt. Mills

Fort Simpson sweeps biathlon competition

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services

Whitehorse, Yukon (Dec 22/06) - Cadets from Fort Simpson made an almost clean sweep across the medal podium for the Western Arctic region at the Northern Region Cadet Biathlon Championship in Whitehorse.

Six cadets from the village together with coach 2nd Lieut. Diane Porter took part in the week-long training and racing exercise from Dec. 4 to 11.

When the snow settled on the course after the two days of racing, three male cadets from Fort Simpson filled the podium in the open category and two female cadets secured the top two positions in their open category.

Brandon Norris won gold in both the open and junior categories with Jordin Snider taking silver and Josh Baton taking bronze in the open category. Charlene Deneyoua took gold in the female open category followed by Karlene Isaiah with silver.

Because they ranked top three in the overall combined regional standings, Norris, Snider and Baton have been selected as the male component of the Northern Region team that will compete in the National Cadet Biathlon Championships in March in Whitehorse.

The team is composed of three male cadets and three female cadets from across the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Charlene Deneyoua was chosen as an alternate for the team.

"This is quite an achievement," said 2nd Lieut. Diane Porter.

"They worked hard and had great attitudes."

Brandon Norris said he's "excited" about having made the Northern Region team.

Norris used a few techniques to help win his races.

To keep his race times low, Norris said he used an off-set skiing technique up the hills to make the effort easier. When coming in to shoot, Norris said he took Porter's advice and waited five seconds to slow his breathing before taking the shot.

Both Norris and Jordin Snider shot all 10 of their targets during their second race.

This was Snider's second year at the regionals and he said he has improved a lot. Snider said he's already set for the nationals.

"Throw me in it and I'll go for it," said Snider.

By the end of March, Whitehorse will be like a second home for Josh Baton. Baton has already been chosen to be a youth ambassador at the Canada Winter Games. Because the nationals take place from March 10 to 17, right after the games, Baton will be spending more than three weeks in Whitehorse.

"This is a big accomplishment for me this year," said Baton.

Part of the fun of the regionals was meeting new people and seeing old friends, said Baton.

"I've proved myself," he said.

The female team members also returned from Whitehorse with positive feelings.

"It was great," said Charlene Deneyoua.

Deneyoua said she used the opportunity to build on her skills from last year. She kept herself motivated during the races by keeping her strongest opponents behind her.

For her first time at the regionals, Karlene Isaiah had an impressive finish.

"I'm proud of myself that I got to second place," Isaiah said.

Celine Gargan is also proud of her performance. This was her third year at the regional.

"It's gone better every time I've went," Gargan said.

To prepare for the regionals, the cadets started practising in September, said Porter. They focused on marksmanship, physical fitness and endurance training.

But the work isn't over for the cadets who were chosen for the Northern Region team.

They were sent home with special equipment including skate skis and waxing kits. They've also been fitted for rifles, which are being stored in Yellowknife. The cadets will be offered additional training from the Regional Cadet Support Unit North before March.

The cadets will be practising their skiing and marksmanship while still keeping the training fun and positive, said Porter.

"We'll be fine-tuning their skills, Porter said.