Vernon’s Emma Lunder, 29, the veteran of Canada’s senior women’s biathlon team, competes at a World Cup race in December 2020 in Hochfilzen, Austria. (Nordic Focus photo)

Vernon’s Emma Lunder, 29, the veteran of Canada’s senior women’s biathlon team, competes at a World Cup race in December 2020 in Hochfilzen, Austria. (Nordic Focus photo)

Vernon biathlon veteran relishes role with national team

Emma Lunder, 29, has three top-10 World Cup 2020-21 results for Canadian women’s squad

The 40 centimetres of snowfall in the Austrian village of Obertilliach Monday, Dec. 28, gave Vernon’s Emma Lunder and her Canadian senior biathlon teammates a chance to play in the snow, instead of train and compete on it.

Obertilliach, located between the Lienz Dolomites and the Carnic Alps, is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in the district of Lienz, in the Austrian state of Tyrol. Obertilliach was declared to be protected as a historic monument in 1978.

The village is Lunder and the Canadian biathlon team’s home away from home during the BMW IWU World Cup season.

“We went out sledding today and it was just a lot of fun,” said Lunder, 29, in her seventh season on the senior national squad, on a Facebook call.

Instead of a sled or toboggan, Lunder can usually be found on snow with two skis on her feet, two poles helping push her along snowy tracks, and with a rifle over her shoulder.

Biathlon is a word of Greek origin meaning “two tests,” which is exactly what the sport is – a combination test of cross-country skiing and shooting. The sport today is founded on a tradition of hunting, stemming back more than 4,000 years.

Lunder took to the snow in her native Timmins, Ont., hometown of Canadian country music goddess Shania Twain. She and her family would cross-country ski, and that continued when the family moved to Vernon when she was 12.

After spending a year in the Jackrabbits program at the Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre, Lunder followed older brother Angus’ footsteps and joined Sea Cadets, and, eventually, the cadet biathlon program.

A 2009 graduate of Vernon Secondary School, Lunder has continued to progress in the sport. She made the junior national biathlon team in 2011 and she keeps improving, leading the way as the oldest member of the women’s team.

Prior to the 2020-21 BMW IWU World Cup season, Lunder’s top-three career finishes were ninth in the sprint race in Oslo; 10th in the women’s relay at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in Korea; and 17th in a sprint event in the Czech Republic in 2018.

Through four weeks of World Cup racing in the 20-21 season, Lunder has three top-10 results, including a ninth-place finish in the pursuit in Koniolahti, Finland, and has finished 15th or better five times this season.

She was 10th in the pursuit in Hochfilzen, Austria, qualifying for her favourite biathlon event by placing 11th in the sprint. That finish meant Lunder started 11th overall in the pursuit, trying to catch the 10 skiers ahead of her. She missed one target (out of five) in the four shooting rounds, resulting in a penalty loop ski of 150 metres.

“I enjoy chasing down people,” said Lunder. “There’s usually 60 people in the pursuit race so there’s lots of women to ski with and to try and pass.”

At the shooting stations, competitors can either fire at the targets standing up or in the prone position laying on their stomachs. Lunder prefers standing, and also enjoys the shift in focus from skiing to shooting.

“There’s lots of stress in a race, you don’t want to miss a target and you don’t want to ski the penalty lap, so I enjoy getting there and having to concentrate on the shooting,” said Lunder, who has three more World Cup events scheduled in 2021 before the sport’s world championships Feb. 11-21 in Pokljuka, Slovenia.

The dates for the 2021 worlds will be about the same ones for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing which could be Lunder’s swan song in the sport.

She competed in 2018 in Korea, getting a taste of Olympic life, taking part in the opening and closing ceremonies, feeling starstruck by seeing a Canadian gold medalist ahead of her in the athletes’ village food lane, and helping the Canadian women’s relay team to a 10th-place finish.

Her post-Olympics World Cup results show an ever-improving Lunder, so Beijing may not be the last the world hears of Emma Lunder in the sport.

“In Korea, it was overwhelming and I was soaking everything up,” she said. “It was such a good experience. I’m seeing improvement every year so in 2022 I hope to be more of a contender and if the results keep improving, who knows?”

Lunder is the leader of the Canadian squad, taking the torch passed to her by her role models when she first joined the squad, Canmore, Alta.’s Rosanna Crawford and Brendan Green of Hay River, NWT.

“I do bring experience and leadership to the team,” said Lunder. “Rosanna and Brendan showed me the ropes and I try to emulate them.”

As for COVID, Lunder said during the World Cup season, athletes are tested every four days, and the Canadian team is wearing masks everywhere. The squad enjoyed a socially distanced Secret Santa gift exchange to celebrate Christmas.

Away from biathlon, Lunder is a fan of the TV show Grey’s Anatomy, likes reading and playing cards, and lists dogsitting and baking bread as her hobbies.

READ MORE: Lunder named to Olympic biathlon squad

READ MORE: Lunder goes hard for silver



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Local Sports

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The historic Leir House building run by the Penticton and District Art Council was vandalized, with glass smashed and graffiti placed on the porch and wall. (Facebook)
Penticton Arts Council looking for help after Leir House vandalized

Glass was smashed and graffiti placed on the historic building

The regional district’s Penticton offices. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Building and bylaw service up in 2020 for RDOS

More complaints were resolved and building permits issued in 2020 than 2019

The next Canadian census will be held in May, 2021. The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is urging its residents to complete the census form online. (Statistics Canada)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen urges participation in census

National census will be held in May, 2021 with COVID-19 protocols in place

Medical chief of staff Dr. Brad Raison of Penticton Regional Hospital and John Moorhouse of the Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation look over one of the rooms in the David E. Kampe Tower in 2017 while the tower was under construction. (Western News File)
After 46 years in media, Moorhouse retires

John Moorhouse spent the last six years with the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation

The BC SPCA is adapting its fundraising after cancelling events due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
BC SPCA gets creative with fundraising as pandemic continues

The non-profit’s in-person fundraising events all had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions

Police and GSAR recommend that people using the backcountry carry a GPS device in case of emergencies.
Snowmobiler found safe after Princeton GSAR takes a midnight ride

He was expected home for dinner at 5:30 p.m and his wife reported he was overdue at approximately 10 p.m.

A man wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency department of the Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver Wednesday, November 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Central Okanagan weekly COVID-19 numbers increase slightly

Region recorded 139 cases of COVID-19 Jan. 10–16, more than the 110 identified the previous week

With the BCHL season stalled, South Surrey’s John Evans has left the West Kelowna Warriors and joined the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. (Photo courtesy of Dubuque Fighting Saints)
With the season stalled West Kelowna Warrior ditches BCHL for U.S.

‘That’s the most important thing – to be able to play,’ says Evans on move to Dubuque Fighting Saints

(Pxhere)
B.C. nurse suspended after using Tensor bandage to trap long-term care patient in room

Susan Malloch voluntarily agreed to a three-day suspension of her certificate of registration

Abbotsford’s Skully White (left), who donated his kidney in December, has started a campaign to find other recipients and donors. The first candidate is retired police officer Gavin Quon. White owns and operates a hotdog stand, Lullys Food Experience, out of the Abbotsford Canadian Tire parking lot. (Facebook photo)
After donating his kidney, Abbotsford hotdog king starts donor campaign

Skully White donated his kidney to customer Tim Hiscock in December

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

(File)
Man allegedly bites Vancouver cop during arrest for outstanding warrant

The officer was treated in hospital for the bite wounds

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after scratching $3M lottery ticket

This marks the BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize

Most Read