Two local teen biathletes are prepping for the Youth/Junior Biathlon World Championships sponsored by the International Biathlon Union scheduled for Feb. 22-28 in Osrblie, Slovakia through a combination of competing in cross country skiing for their respective high schools and training at the Kincaid Park biathlon course.
Grace Gilliland, age 16 and a homeschool student living in Chugiak who is a member of the South High School cross country ski team, and Helen Wilson, age 15 and a student and ski team member at Eagle River High School both qualified for the team sponsored by the International Biathlon Union as a result of placings at a race series recently held at the Ethan Allen Firing Range located in Jericho, Vermont.
Gilliland turned in a stellar performance at the event hitting 16 out of 20 targets in the midst of a blizzard that left many other shooters with more misses than hits.
Gilliland said she enjoys the mental aspect of the sport.
“I really like how hard it actually is,” she told the ECHO News. “I like the mental challenge because it can be really hard to do this if there is bad weather or things have not gone right for you in your race. Mentally, I have to be really good and do what I need to do no matter what else is happening around me.”
Wilson originally was an alternate for the team that heads to Slovakia in February, but learned late last week that she will be a participating member of the team because IBU age requirements for international travel will not allow Lexie Madigan of California – who is less than 15 years of age – who had qualified in the Vermont races to be on the world team.
Gilliland told the ECHO News that she and Wilson – who are close friends and ski and training together frequently – are both tremendously excited to be participating in the world event together.
“I have looked forward to this for several years now,” Gilliland said. “It is a dream come true.”
It’s also a spendy dream. Gilliland and Wilson each need at least $4,000 for the trip.
Gilliland started an online fundraising effort through GoFundMe.Com. Look it up under the keywords, “Grace’s Biathlon Competition Fund.”
The ECHO News was unable to reach Wilson prior to press deadline but will list her fundraising information online once that is received.