Everything You Wanted to Know About Racing in Alberta (But were afraid to ask)

Calforex Cup #2 Canmore Alberta

Where Do I Stay?

Most stay at the Windtower. It has the best rates and most importantly it has bacon. (Actually, the best reason to stay here is that often you can book a suite that has a kitchenette allowing for better nutrition options over the course of a weekend.)  They also have a great buffet breakfast and underground parking included.

Call 403-609-6600 and ask for the Biathlon Sask Special Rate.

One Queen bed   (max 2 people)   69.00

One Bedroom Suite $99 (has a kitchen)

Two Bedroom Suite$159 (has a kitchen)

Check in at 3:00 Checkout at 1:00

The heating system is still one of the last mysteries of the universe yet to be decoded (I set the heat to “as low as possible” as soon as I get there) and strangely the light switches are in the oddest places.

How Do I Register?

Go to zone4.ca and look for Calforex Cup#2 and sign up with a credit card. (note that the races are quite a bit more expensive than local races but there is a great tradeoff in that we get to race at a World Class facility against some of the best competition in the country. Pay attention to the registration deadline since late entries are not allowed by the automated registering system.

What Club Do I Sign Up With?

For out of province races, sign up and put Biathlon Saskatchewan as your club. (The coach will check to see that you are members of Biathlon Sask before the race.) 

What Is The M.E.L.LOW Biathlon Model?

This is the approach that Biathlon Sask uses to guide the long term development of out athletes (it has the letters E. L. M. in it) based on the proven winning philosophy of athletes who excel in any sport. (Also known as the “ELMO” athlete model)

E.Effort: Winning Athletes (aka Champions) always give their best effort

 L.L. - Lifelong Learners: Winning athletes are constantly trying to figure out ways to improve throughout their entire career

 M.  – Mistakes – Winning athletes are confident enough to be able make mistakes (as long as they learn from them)

What Category Should I Register In?

See the chart below. Talk to your coach if you need help figuring out which is the right category.


Shoot confidently and efficiently and in this category you will be rewarded. Back sight/front sight!

What is Dev 1 and Dev 2?

Dev 1 is a category that is made up mostly athletes 10, 11, 12, 13shooting 22’s off of a rest at prone (small) targets while Dev 2 is for a bit more experienced kids aged usually 13, 14, 15 shooting prone targets with 22’s without a rest. (Note that the age variation is these categories is wide allowing for kids to race at a level that suits their abilities) Athletes must take the clip out after shooting and leave the bolt open on the mat. (No standing shooting in these categories) Small Penalty Loops and don’t forget to bring a rest from home.

Parent’s Role – Pack Mule

The Parents main role is to “ferry” the rifle back and fourth between the firing line and the racks. (Being safety conscious at all times.) Do a check to make sure the clip is out and bolt is open. Carrying the rifles by the barrel is a good practice and be sure to shoulder check as you leave the mat to prevent being “smoked” by a super intense skier. 

If you are late getting an athlete’s rifle to the mat prior to shooting, don’t sweat it since it gives the athlete a chance to lower their pulse (while yours skyrockets) and they will often shoot better. (Also, you are not allowed to actively coach your athlete while they are in the range or they will be disqualified.)

Transporting Rifle To The Range

The rifles must be in a case (the hard case works or better still, in a soft case with a trigger lock) while being transported from the parking lot to the range.  Also make sure there are no spare rounds in the extra bullet holder while transporting the rifle to the hotel or for the way home.

When Should I Get To The Range On Race Day?

It is best to arrive at the wax room between 25 to 45 minutes before zero with 35 minutes early being just perfect. (Usually the wax room won’t be open if you get there too soon.)

Quiet Confidence – Right From The Start!

Athletes must exude an air of “quiet confidence” and “positive metal attitude” the minute they step out of the vehicle. Anything less is unacceptable and in the spirit of “no geeks no whiners no sluggos” athletes who forget this important factor will be sent back to the parking lot for a “do over.”  (Note: Griping, whining, complaining is permitted when watching Andre Proux referee a Roughrider’s Football Game or if athletes are under the age of ten.)


Generally it is easiest to wax the skis at home with decent wax if you have. Toko pink usually works well.  Look at the weekend weather for Canmore and hope for the best. (Coaches and Wax Techs take no responsibility for skis that are “too fast”)

We will often have a Team Sask Waxroom for the race days or for if we have to wax race skis the night before. (on non-race days, waxroom 1 is available to the public for scraping skis etc.) 

Rifles lay on the floor in the wax room so they don’t fall over and bust.

Note that if we are going to use High Floral waxes (powders that cost 30grams for $280 because the race is an important trials race or National Championships) athletes are not allowed to be present since the chemicals are toxic. (They may even contribute to ear cancer)

Trail Fees

For the Friday Practice Day and Weekend Races Days athletes don’t need to purchase a pass. It is included in the entry fee. If you stay a few days after you will need a pass. (Leaving on the Monday makes the drive much less stressful than trying to get back on Sunday – especially if roads are sketchy.)

Thursday Night - Optional Ski Practice

Just skiing. No rifles. 7:00 easy workout. Meet in lower parking lot of Nordic Center if you can make it. Not mandatory.

Friday - Official Practice

Friday- See times and distances on the race invitation (on Biathlon Alberta Website) with athletes able to practice at the allotted times. Usually IBU categories in AM.  Younger athletes and Masters in PM. Learn your race loops. There is a clock on the Biathlon Building that tells you the time.

The morning session is often pretty wild and crazy with large contingent of overly zealous, nervous senior athletes who are possibly trying to qualify for a National Team so its always fun to come out and feel the stress. Metal targets usually open up about 20 min after the start of zeroing with open lanes so be prepared for mayhem.

Afternoon is usually for masters, and younger athletes and is much more mellow. A pleasant switch from AM.

When Do I Do My Mental Imagery Before The Range?

Pick a spot about 100 from the range. Athletes go to their “happy place” each time before shooting. Most use the flagpole when at Blue Mountain or the waterline pipe just after the “camel bumps” in Canmore.

Where Do I Practice My Course Imagery?

Memorize the course on the practice day and go through the race “in your head” thenight before you go to sleep. Points of reference are “camel bumps” coming into the range, Fluffy (the hill leading into the part of the trail right behind the Biathlon Building) and Scruffy also called The Wall (the steep hill that you can see from the range)

Why Should I Check My Natural Align When Shooting Prone?

The main reason is to earn chocolate. If you don’t check your natural align you will almost certainly miss at least one target – usually several. The other reason is that sometimes checking your natural alignment helps to make a lousy shot “just good enough” to be a hit. And finally, the better you get, the more pain will be caused by forgetting to check.

What Happens If A Target That Looks Like A Hit Does Not Go Up?

When an athlete thinks they made a perfect shot and hit the target and sees that the target does not go up, the reason is often easily explained. It is because they missed!


It is a great idea to write your name on your ammunition boxes (ski ties too) so you don’t get confused. Try to use bullets from the same box for the zeroing and for the race. Also, high velocity ammunition is not allowed.

Can I Ski Backwards Through The Range?

Nope. Like a salmon swimming upstream, you will be swatted out of the air by a grizzly. Also use hooks at the range for your extra gear. Do a range loop or a stadium loop and come back in again that way. Also be certain to clean footwear of dirt before walking on trail, use the tunnels (Always) and never walk on trails with ski boots or there may be an ensuing announcement of admonishment over the PA system.

Official Good Luck Loonie (Toonie) Toss

At all out-of-province races, during official practice, the youngest member of Team Sask tosses a coin into the range for good luck.

Team Meeting Friday 9:00

Usually in Wildrose Room at hotel after the coaches get back from their meeting at the Bill Warren Center. (all Sask coaches are welcome at the coaches meeting but it is not mandatory)  Athletes: check your race loops and set your goals for the weekend.

Shooting Clean

Always! Alberta usually gives out Bear Claws if you shoot clean once in a race. But…you have to be at the awards to collect your prize. In addition, Sask athletes are able to win toast if the coach doesn’t forget the toaster in North Battleford. Parents are expected to provide chocolate in the event of a clean bout.


Check on zone 4 as the race is in progress for unofficial results.

Should I Bring Febreeze?

Unforeseen thawing of your vehicle and its contents in the underground parking lot at the Windtower may allow for melting of a winter’s worth of spilled milk, Mozza Burger grease etc. which may cause mild unpleasantness. Be advised.

How Fast Should I Shoot?

Try to set up and do a natural align check in 12 seconds or less and have the first shot away in 16-19 seconds. Then try to be finished from 35-45 seconds. Standing is a bit quicker. Note that times can be slower for inexperienced shooters and when perfectionism creeps in.

Ski Ties

These are the little things that hold skis together. No need to get excited if you don’t finish the weekend with the same ties you started the weekend with. Relax. That is just the way it goes and in some cases you may even end up with Martin Fourcade’s ski ties if you are lucky.


If the organizers have made a potential mistake in the results (as happens from time to time) usually we don’t get too excited but let a Sask Coach know.  If it’s for a medal or in a critical race the coaching team may look into it, but not too often do we protest officially. (The race officiating at Alberta races is at an extremely high standard with results triple checked so usually they get it right.)

Athlete Cool Down

Eat! Hydrate! Immediately. And then after a race, athletes from Sask are encouraged to wait for their teammates to finish and, if possible go for a “team ski” together – nice and slow to clear lactate and get ready for the next race or trip home. Vico, Beef Jerky and Bananas are an excellent after-race source of nutrition.  (I used a Saskatchewan  “codeword” in case someone from another province reads this.)

Sr. Boys and Girls Pick Up Rifle After Race from Rack

Often organizers need the rifle racks for the next category so remove yours when your race is over.

By the way…

Sr. Boys and Girls must come to a COMPLETE stop in the race while dropping off and picking up rifles. Bolt open and clip out on mat and rack. Otherwise DSQ. Any athletes being disqualified for this offence will have to buy the coach a D.Q. ice-cream log cake as penance. The best lessons are often the most expensive.



Saturday Supper

On your own but often some will go together to Boston Pizza- but go early, its often busy. No ordering desserts – too expensive, takes too long. Eat pasta not lobster.

 Hot/Cold Recovery

A Cold Ice Bath with hot shower between works particularly well in Canmore for some reason. (Avoid going into the hot tub for two hours or you will be like overboiled spaghetti the next day)

Trials 82% National Championships

Sask. Athletes who achieve a 82% of the top three averaged times in the Sr Boys, Sr Girls, Youth, Jr., Senior and Masters can qualify for Nationals In P.G.  (Prince George). If an athlete does not make the 82 percent they will be sent instead to P.A. for more training.

Errors or Omissions

If I have left anything out or made a misteak, it was done on purpose as a test.






Air Rifle 1


-athletes shoot on big targets at 10m + rest

Air Rifle 2


-athletes shoot on small targets at 10m + rest

Dev 1


-athletes shoot prone only, targets at 50m, rest permitted

Dev 2 Boys


-athletes shoot prone only, targets at 50m, no rest

Dev 2 Girls


-athletes shoot prone only, targets at 50m, no rest

Senior Boys


-athletes shoot prone + standing, rifle drill

Senior Girls


-athletes shoot prone + standing, rifle drill

Sport Men


-athletes shoot prone + standing, full carry

Sport Women


-athletes shoot prone + standing, full carry

Youth Men


-as per IBU Regulations

Youth Women


-as per IBU Regulations

Junior Men


-as per IBU Regulations

Junior Women


-as per IBU Regulations



-as per IBU Regulations



-as per IBU Regulations

Master Men


-as per Biathlon Canada Regulations

Master Women


-as per Biathlon Canada Regulations