Canada’s Nathan Smith in action during the single mixed relay event at the IBU Biathlon World Cup in Ostersund, Sweden, Sunday Nov. 29, 2015. If you drive from Banff up to Norquay Ski Resort in the summer, you may see biathlete Nathan Smith doing a full-out climb on his roller skis. (Marie Birkl/The Canadian Press)

Bitter Alberta cold throws a wrench in World Cup biathlon in Canmore

Canmore is hosting a biathlon World Cup for just the second time after a first in 2016

Frigid Alberta temperatures forced the reshuffling of races at a World Cup biathlon in Canmore, Alta., and threaten to cancel some of them.

Saturday’s men’s and women’s relays at Canmore Nordic Centre have been moved to Friday to take advantage of slightly higher temperatures that day.

Sunday’s men’s and women’s mass starts have “not been confirmed for the weekend as organizers watch the weather closely,” the organizing committee said Wednesday in a statement.

Canmore is hosting a biathlon World Cup for just the second time after a first in 2016, drawing 200 athletes from 24 countries.

The men’s and women’s individual races Thursday are currently going ahead with a high of minus -15 C forecasted.

But temperatures are projected to drop to minus-25 for Saturday and minus-20 for Sunday, which runs up against the International Biathlon Union’s cold-weather policy.

The IBU says races can’t start if air temperature is colder than minus-20 “at the coldest part of the site, range or course, 1.5 metres above ground.”

If temperatures are below minus-15 C, wind chill must be considered and the decision to proceed is left with the on-site competition jury, in consultation with the IBU’s medical delegate or competition doctor.

The nordic centre in Canmore was built for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary and is the training centre for Canada’s biathlon and cross-country teams.

This week’s bitter cold curtailed pre-competition training this week and sent many athletes indoors to local gyms, the IBU said on its website.

Calgary brothers Scott and Christian Gow, Jules Burnotte of Sherbrooke, Que., Aidan Millar of Canmore and Brendan Green of Hay River, N.W.T., are scheduled to race the men’s 20k on Thursday.

Canmore’s Rosanna Crawford, Calgary’s Megan Bankes, Sarah Beaudry of Prince George, B.C., and Emma Lunder of Vernon, B.C., are in the women’s field for the 15k that day.

The Canadian Press

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