Henrik Quintilio (front) and Sam Moody (back) go through their individual race on Saturday at the North American Cup/ Western Canadian Championships in Red Deer at River Bend Golf and Recreation Area. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

WATCH: Top Biathletes descend on Red Deer

For two days the best of the best of Western Canadian shooters and skiers tested the biathlon course that will be used the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.

More than 150 participants took part in the North American Cup/ Western Canadian Championships from Feb. 23-25, which was designed to promote the sport to younger racers in the Calforex Biathlon Cup.

Athletes raced in both the individual and sprint competitions on the weekend.

Biathlon Canada President Murray Wylie said it’s an exciting sport to watch, and he was impressed with the competition.

Canadian Paralympian Brittany Hudak, who competed on Saturday said the course in Red Deer was good preparation for the 2018 Winter Paralympics. She leaves soon for the games, which run from March 8 to 18 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

She said it was nice to get in some last biathlon races before the games.

“I liked the courses. They were kind of rolly so you can really think of power and glide and it’s got a few steep uphills so not too bad,” she said.

“There are some flatter sections, but then you get those steeper uphills so you have to watch how you control your heart rate on the uphills. You want to have enough energy to push on the flats because you can also make up a lot of time there. I like the course, it’s got a good flow.”

Wylie, who has been involved with biathlon for 17 years, added that organizers hoped to showcase the event for both competitors who will race at the Canada Winter Games and the community to better understand the sport.

“It’s to provide an opportunity for that community to see what the sport is all about and to see the competition, then to build upon the legacy of the facility,” he said.

“You want to be able to make sure you get a return on the investment and then you have that so you can local, provincial and national events.”

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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