A young Aldergrove athlete has returned from two national biathlon competitions with a bevy of gold and silver medals.
Emmanuel Bussani, a 15 year old sergeant with the Royal Canadian Air Cadets 861 SilverFox Squadron in Abbotsford, was awarded three silver and two gold medals at the Cadet Biathlon Nationals, held March 2-5 in Valcartier, Quebec.
He followed that up with 10th in sprint and 18th in individual at the Civilian Biathlon Nationals, held March 6-12 in Canmore, Alberta.
Officials were so impressed with his finishes that he has been invited to join the elite B.C. biathlon team, the 15-member “Development Squad” of 15-16 year olds. The team’s coach is Etienne Letondeur.
“I will be able to go to camps in the summer, fall and winter and train with national level coaches,” said Bussani.
Bussani has been involved with the sport, which combines skiing with target shooting, since joining the Silver Fox Cadets at age 12.
“I joined because the cadets had a biathlon team of 12 members, and this helps me get to Whistler for the practices,” said Bussani, who also pays his own way with a part-time job at an Aldergrove poultry farm.
“I love skiing and physical fitness, sports that make you push hard. I also love the (cadet biathlon) community. Every race is a lot of fun.”
Bussani competed at zone levels to qualify for the cadet nationals, and was one of ten B.C. cadets selected for the nationals. His sister, Ariel, 13, did win silver at the B.C. finals, however, only gold medal winners were qualified for the nationals.
In addition to winning the silver as a member of the B.C. team, which came second to Quebec’s, Bussani won silvers in the team relay and the sprint.
His gold medals were for winning the 6-km mass start event as well as being a member of the overall senior male team with his partner Thomas Schratz.
Bussani also was selected for the honour of the “Athlete of the Day” at the cadet nationals, as the Cadet National Biathlon Championship drew to an end. The nostalgia of the last week was still felt while athletes recapped their week.
“The biggest thing I learned here is, even if it doesn’t go well in the first race, I can improve in the other race,” said Bussani.
His preparation and mindset paid off as he won the gold medal in his category for the 6 km mass start competition on March 3. In this competition, all biathletes of a given category start at the same time, which makes this competition nerve-racking and full of surprises.
“My goal is to bring home some medals. I’ve been skiing for a long time and I love it. Being here for the second time, I feel excited but also nervous. It makes me proud to have the fastest time in Canada of my category. The most memorable moment was when I crossed the finish line and noticed I was the first to finish.”
The championship should not be seen as a mere event but as an incentive for all to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the months and years ahead.
“In the summer, I do roller skating and train well before the competition. You also have to stay healthy by eating well and a good night of sleep. It’s all about thinking about the end game like getting on the podium and staying focussed,” said Bussani.
Emmanuel Bussani at the start of the Sprint race in Canmore.
Emmanuel Bussani shooting at the target in the biathlons at Canmore.