October 26, 2021

Trip report for the 2019 International Children’s Games, Lake Placid – Part Three

This is the final installment of Coach John’s blog from the ICG – when you read it, you’ll wish you could have been there!

Thursday was relay day. Conditions were blizzardy and temperatures dropping, but at race time it was only minus 8. The teams were decided on the basis of trying to pair each competitor up with someone from a foreign country. Since Lake Placid comprised half of the competitors, everyone was paired with the local host team. Enzo was paired with Abigail – the silver medal winner from the first day and Timur was with Sophia. It was a mass start for the girls. Sophia skied strong and after 3 one kilometre loops and 2 rounds of clean shooting tagged Timur who was off. Abigail came later and tagged Enzo off.  Timur was quick into the range and then disaster occurred – the rifle which had no snow cover on the sight was blocked due to the snow from the blizzard. The gun was switched after a long wait. The gun jammed twice. He had only 4 pellets and needed a new clip for his 5th shot. He then hit 4/5 of the shots, so besides spending 2 minutes on the range he had a penalty loop to do. Enzo rolled in and out for his first round shooting clean. Timur’s second time on the mat went better – 25 seconds and clean, first out of the range and up the hill, closely followed by Luka of Slovenia. Enzo rolled into the range and out again clean, shooting calmly and precisely. The final lap of the race was on, and Luka passed and beat Timur over the finish line by 3 seconds. (But wait. Alibi time.) Enzo cleared the finish line racing with heart and soul.

Enzo cranking it…

It took about 45 minutes for the officials to review all the results. I recorded Timur’s range time on cell phone and estimated Timur should have gotten about 90 seconds of alibi time – based on his 120 seconds for his first round and 25 for his second round. The provisional results were posted – Timur and Sophia placed first, ahead by 5.2 seconds. As we had a 15 minute challenge period before the medals were official, I went to see what the officials had done. Turns out they took 93 seconds off Timur’s time for his rifle trouble – in line with what I had on video – and protest was not required. That must have meant 80 seconds of alibi time for Luka – both had rifle trouble on the range.

Top step of the podium, great way to finish!

On the podium Sophie Steinruck received another silver for her relay racing, and Timur was on top of the podium making it a good finish for team Kelowna.

For team Kelowna, the girls hockey won 4 out of 6 games, but not enough to get a medal.

Once the races were all done, what next? I think for most it was shopping and a trip to the candy store for the boys. Of course there was the mandatory trading – last chance for pins, toques, gloves and jackets and sweaters. Dinner had last chance tatter tots, and then we were off to the closing ceremonies, a quick event.

I cannot report much about the final night’s dance, skate, and trade as it is really hard to get any dance details out of 13 year old boys, but it seems the kids had a great time and went to bed. The coaches and HOD spent time looking for a venue that served liquids and solids that did not close their kitchen by 9 pm. It was successful. Ben, Dave, Rob, Lorraine and I spent a few long hours passionately talking about how we can get the kids from cross-country and biathlon together more – it was a real bonding event this week for the Telemark group. Ben noted we must keep the momentum going.

Friday was a day of departure, and I know that if I felt some sadness at leaving this new found venue, the kids with their memories must have felt the same or more. Timur later said the International Children’s Games was the best time ever. Not simply the biathlon competition, but because of the fun meeting all the people from other countries and the connections they got from trading bling. It was also the best time because in these games the kids had the freedom to be themselves and apart from a few events and competitions, they got to choose for themselves when they went for dinner, what they wanted to do, and how to do it each evening.

So, in summary – the Games were a success. The athletes gained more experience and confidence and they had a great time both on and off the snow. I think the experience might have lit some spark in the athletes this week as well.

For myself, overall it was the bonding between the nordic and the biathlon teams from Telemark that I enjoyed the most and look forward to building on this even more as a legacy of these 2019 Lake Placid International Children’s Games.

Finally, I would like to thank all the people who made the trip a success for the athletes – the biathlon gang and athletes with their supportive sign; Coach Murray with his unflinching support, enthusiasm, and advocacy for the group with Telemark; the Telemark Nordic club and team with all of their support; the coaches Rob Fershau, Ben Achtem, Dave Urness; the ICG Kelowna supporters; and of course Lorraine, the biggest biathlon supporter out there. 

See you back at Telemark, from Coach John

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