Ryan Elden is no stranger to big competitions at this point in his career.
As a top biathlete, he has competed at the BC Winter Games, the Canadian Championships, the North American Cup Series and even in Europe on the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Tour.
That being said, he is motivated to perform at a top level for his province at the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer (Feb 15-Mar 3).
“I think it’ll be pretty fun,” Elden says, “I’ll be racing a lot of the same guys I’ll be racing at the nationals and competing with when I go overseas because the biathlon community is so small in Canada; but I’m pretty excited for the feel of the games.
“It’s almost like a mini-Olympics with all the different sports there.”
The 19-year-old athlete is hoping to do Quesnel proud by landing on the podium at the event.
“I think I definitely have the potential to make it as long as I race to the best of my abilities,” he says.
Elden says he has been participating in biathlon for nine or ten years now.
It was always a dream of his to be an athlete and he comes from a very active family with his father and sister competing in biathlon too.
He started off with the Cariboo Ski Touring Club in their jackrabbits programs and enjoyed it so much he decided to continue onto biathlon.
Success in the sport followed and at 16, Elden moved to Prince George to attend Grade 12 at PacificSport Northern BC, a high school specifically aimed at students who are looking to add high level athletic training to their studies.
Last season, Elden qualified for the Junior IBU Tour, where he travelled to Europe to compete against some of the world’s best.
“The level is a lot higher than it is in Canada,” he says, ” In Canada you can get away with making small mistakes and make it up.
“If you mess up a little on the range you can make it up on your skis and if you aren’t having the best day on skis you can make it up on the range.
“But over there everything has to be really well put together to be competitive.”
For the young Quesnel biathletes who are following in his footsteps, Elden has some simple advice.
“Enjoy every second of it!
“All the times you get to go out with your parents and ski and go to the range in Quesnel and shoot on a beautiful day.
“Or even if it’s not such a beautiful day, always look to find stuff that you really like about the sport.
“If you love the sport and have the passion and the drive to always push yourself and aim for the next level, you can do well.
“Also don’t get discouraged. Biathlon’s a pretty long sport; we peak pretty late in our age, so as long as you’re always trying to be better and don’t give up good things can come.”