The Australian Biathlon Season has finished with a bang!
On the weekend, not only did we hold the annual Australian Biathlon Championships, the peak event for the season and the second of our two selection weekends for the National and Development Teams, but our range at Mount Hotham was officially named the Hotham Biathlon Arena.
We were delighted to welcome Ms Danielle Green MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism, Major Events and Regional Victoria, to cut the ribbon at our range opening, start our races, and also to present medals at our celebratory dinner that evening.
Saturday’s event was an Individual (Distance) race, with Sunday’s race being a Sprint event. Participants were aged from Under 11 (laser events) to Veteran.
The youngest racers took part in laser biathlon races, a fantastic opportunity for those too young to participate in regular .22 biathlon events, due to firearms laws restrictions, with those aged 12 and older able to take part in regular .22 biathlon events modified to suit our Australian conditions. The Hotham Biathlon Arena, at 1,600 metres altitude, is one of the highest altitude biathlon arenas in the world.
There were 90 registrations for the weekend, with two thirds of participants being women or girls. Almost half of the participants were aged 18 or under. Many of the younger .22 biathletes started out a few years ago with our laser biathlon program and have “graduated” to the “big league” of small bore rifle shooting.
The weather is always a big factor in how accurately biathletes are able to shoot; while the temperatures remained mild throughout the weekend, the wind on Saturday provided challenging conditions, despite the range being sheltered by the surrounding snowgums, which was reflected in Saturday’s shooting results.
On Saturday, the Men’s Individual Open was won for the fourth year in a row by Damon Morton (21, Marlo VIC), with father Cameron Morton placing second and Taylor Field rounding out the podium.
In the Women’s Individual Open, Jillian Colebourn (22, Sydney NSW) took the gold medal, with Sabrina Howell collecting the silver.
Best shooters in Saturday’s Individual races for those aged 18 or over were Damon Morton, Sabrina Howell and Matthew Wright (each with five penalties from 20 shots).
Special mention to Joshua Cullen (12, Wodonga VIC) who had only one penalty from 20 shots.
In Sunday’s Sprint, the Men’s Open title was won by Damon Morton for the fourth year in a row, with Cameron Morton second and Jeremy Flanagan third.
In the Women’s Sprint Open, Jillian Colebourn again claimed the top of the podium, with Sabrina Howell placing second.
Sunday’s shooting conditions were a little kinder, with the best shooters aged over 18 being Damon Morton and Sabrina Howell (one penalty each).
Great shooting again by Joshua Cullen and also Che Buckley (12, Bairnsdale VIC) both M U13, who had one penalty each.
Honourable mentions to those with only two penalties: Rachel McKay (W Masters), Matthew Wright (MU19), Darcie Morton and Gabrielle Mahon (W U19), Amity Marantelli (W U17), Christian Mahon (M U15), Isobel Patterson (W U15).
We had over sixty members, friends and guests enjoy our celebratory dinner on Saturday evening at the Dinner Plain Hotel, a delicious buffet.
We were delighted to host Ms Green and partner Macca.
Also attending were Jon Hutchins (representing Mount Hotham Alpine Resort) and Robyn Hutchins, along with Malcolm Macpherson (representing Dinner Plain) and partner Alison March.
After main course, Ms Green presented medals and gave a speech thanking the Association for inviting her to such a landmark occasion.
Our events are volunteer-heavy to run and take a huge amount of year-round work to arrange. There are many people we would like to thank:
- Ms Green for officiating at our event, attending our celebratory dinner, awarding medals and for ideas for further development of our facilities for international cooperation and events;
- the Victorian Department of Sport for the Shooting Sports Facilities Program, and the ongoing support for our Biathlon in Victoria Program, and in particular to Ms Sue Tymms, Senior Project Officer;
- Mr Jon Hutchins of Mount Hotham Resort Management and his team of administrators, marketers, engineers, groomers and others, who continue to support us;
- Our Head Coach Mr Luca Bormolini for his professionalism and endless enthusiasm, and his assistant coaches from Livigno ITA, Emil Bormetti and Martina Viviani;
- Ms Georgia Sherriff and her team at the Dinner Plain Hotel for providing a top venue for our celebratory dinner on Saturday night;
- all the volunteer coaches, officials, parents, siblings, partners and everyone else who pitches in to help make our events – and sport – a fantastic experience for all
Australian Biathlon Association President, Dr Grant Flanagan, was delighted with the weekend:
“It was a pleasure to welcome Danielle to the Biathlon Family and show her how the support provided by the Victorian Government has been put to good use.
It was pleasing that we had more female than male competitors, as these areas have been a real focus for our development programs.
With an outstanding range and better facilities planned, we are planning for international competition in the near future.”