A River City Academy senior and biathlon racer will represent the U.S. at the Winter University Games, an international competition for student athletes.
Seventeen-year-old Justin Hansen has been cross-country skiing since he was in middle school. He picked up biathlon this year and has competed with the Anchorage and Alaska biathlon clubs.
Now, he’s busy practicing for the games, set for this December in Lucerne, Switzerland.
“I’m feeling really good about my ski technique and I think it’s improving day by day," he said. "As far as my marksmanship goes, I’m thinking I’m a little bit lacking in my prone performance. But with more and more practice, the more I will become better.”
Hansen said he was tapped by a coordinator for the games earlier this year to join four other men and five women on the U.S. team.
Though he’s still in high school at River City Academy in Soldotna, he qualifies because he’s part of the school’s Middle College program and takes classes at Kenai Peninsula College.
The Winter University Games are held every two years in alternating cities. Hansen said he’s never been to Switzerland.
“I haven’t even been out of the country before," he said.
At the games, he’ll race the 15-km individual race and the 10-km sprint. He said he’ll have the chance to compete in more races if he ranks high.
“We’ve just been working more and more toward that with practices," he said. "I’ve been doing time trials every week.”
Hansen gets to Switzerland on December 8. Competitions start December 11.
Hansen said he doesn’t know of many competitive biathlon racers on the peninsula and he’s trying to reinvigorate the local Kenai Biathlon club.