Considering the climate North of 60, one might expect manmade snow to favour southern athletes. However, the Yukon Biathlon Team prevailed just the same, securing six medals on artificial snow at the NorAm Cup, which was combined with Alberta’s Calforex Cup, held in Canmore, Alberta.
“It was like Disneyland,” said Yukon Biathlon Team coach Judy Hartling. “You had to go through a tunnel to get to the range and the trail. On one side of the tunnel there’d be no snow … and then you’d go through the tunnel and there’d be all this snow.”
All eight of the Yukon team members that made the trip south competed in a sprint race Saturday and an individual race Sunday. Among the team’s top finishes were a few unexpected results.
In just her first year of biathlon, Jennifer Curtis finished third in the sprint race in the junior women’s division (13 and 14).
“We were pretty excited that she was on the podium,” said Hartling.
Another pleasant surprise came from Jeremy Johnson who took a gold each day in the open men’s recreation division (18 and up).
“This was the first time he had raced, other than racing in snowshoe biathlon,” said Hartling.
“We were extremely pleased.”
Competing in the Youth Men’s division (17 and 18), Ryan Burlingame, 17, took third Sunday.
“Ryan obviously skied a very good race; he’s an excellent athlete,” said Hartling. “In the past Arctic Winter Games he won a number of golds — I think he won four altogether.”
Aliye Tuzlak also found herself on of the podium, twice reaching the lowest tier. Skiing and shooting in the girls’ 15 and 16 division, Tuzlak took third in both Saturday’s and Sunday’s races.
“Aliye is a really good athlete,” said Hartling. “She has been with the biathlon program for — I think since she was about eight years old.”
The Yukon team’s success comes at the heels of another success story for Hartling.
Just a couple months after being named National Biathlon Canada Female Coach of the Year, Hartling was named coach of the year at the Sport Yukon Annual Awards Night.
“I was very excited about it,” said Hartling.
Instead of patting herself on the back, Hartling steers the kudos towards her team, their facility in Whitehorse and to the support of the athletes’ parents.
“The athletes that I work with are very coachable, they want to ski, they want to shoot,” said Hartling. “And we have a great facility at the biathlon range. It is all ours, we don’t share it with another organization, so we have access to the range at any time that we need it.
“And we have tremendous parent support.”
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com