PRINCE GEORGE, B.C.
“I felt like my legs were going to fall off.”
That’s how Yukon biathlete Nadia Moser describes her final lap during the women’s 10-kilometre pursuit race at the Canada Winter Games on Wednesday.
It was worth the struggle.
Moser won bronze for her third medal of the Games this week in Prince George.
“I was pushing myself, but not as hard as I could because I was afraid I was going to fall over,” continued Moser. “I knew I was going to get third then because there was no one behind me that I could see.”
Moser, who already collected silver and bronze this week, took third in the most thrilling race of the Games. After winning bronze in Tuesday’s sprint, she was third off the start-line in Wednesday’s pursuit, jumped into second after her first shoot, and into first after her second trip to the range, cleaning house.
The 17-year-old slipped back into second and then into third, missing three and two in her standing shoots.
“I’m happy that I got third, but I’m not happy with my shooting,” said Moser. “I’m happy with my prone because I hit four, five. But I’m not happy with my standing because I only hit five out of 10.”
“It was an exciting race,” she added. “A lot closer than I thought it was going to be.
“It’s not usually my favourite race, but this one was really fun because it was really close and the positions kept switching around.”
Gold medalist Emily Dickson of B.C. won in a sprint to the finish, beating silver medalist Leilani Tam von Burg of Ontario by less than a ski length.
Moser came in a minute, 20 seconds behind Dickson and Tam von Burg and 34 seconds ahead of the fourth-place finish from Quebec.
All three medalists were the only females to collect hardware this week. Dickson went from bronze, to silver to gold.
“We’re coming away with three medals!” exclaimed Yukon coach Laurie Jacobsen. “We’re happy – it doesn’t matter what colour.
“We were pretty certain she had this potential, had the opportunity to medal. She doesn’t always think that she can, but she is the type of girl who will go out there and do what has to be done.”
Moser began the Games winning silver in the 12.5-kilometre individual race on Sunday, marking the first medal for Yukon in Prince George and the first-ever Games medal for the territory in biathlon.
She then claimed bronze in the 7.5-kilometre sprint on Tuesday, giving her the great starting position for Wednesday.
Each medal holds its own significance for Moser.
“I think they are all special in their own way,” she said. “The first race I was like, ‘OK, let’s see how I do.’ And I got a silver, so I was really excited – I wasn’t expecting it. Then in second race I didn’t shoot how I wanted to, so I was like, ‘I’m not getting a medal,’ but I did anyway.
“This one, it was just an exciting race all together.”
Yukon teammate Maria Peters bounced back from a disappointing race Tuesday and finished with her best on Wednesday.
After placing 23rd in the sprint, Peters passed seven competitors in the pursuit to move up to a 16th-place finish in the field of 39.
She wrenched her shoulder in a spill in the sprint but motored through the pain for her highest finish at the Games. She cleaned twice at the range, once prone and once standing.
“Today was my best result and shot the best,” said Peters. “I don’t know if I skied the best because I fell yesterday and hurt my shoulder, so that was affecting me a little bit.
“It might have made me ski a little bit slower, but that maybe was helping me because my heart rate wasn’t as high so I could shoot easier. So that might have been a good thing,” she added with a chuckle.
Unlike Moser, who misses the cutoff by a year, Peters will be eligible for the 2019 Games in Red Deer, Alta. Peters finished Wednesday’s race with 17 out of 20 at the range.
“I think this was Maria’s best race,” said Dennis Peters, Yukon coach and Maria’s dad. “She’s said in the past she doesn’t like the pursuit, but she did very well in it today.
“She said she was in pain the last two laps, especially going up the hills, but she was determined to finish.”
Both of Yukon’s two biathletes in Prince George train with Biathlon Yukon’s Velocity Squad for high performance athletes four times a week. Moser, who hopes to be accepted into the Biathlon Alberta Training Centre, is also a member of Cross Country Yukon’s Ski Squad program.
“We’ve started a summer program as well and I think all of that has added up to bringing our level up,” said Jacobsen.
The coaches from Biathlon Yukon are beside themselves with this week’s successes, but the season isn’t done. They are sending a team of seven Velocity Squad members, including Moser and Maria, to the national championships in only two weeks.
“It’s been quite an amazing week for Biathlon Yukon,” said Dennis. “I think we’ve been put on the map with Biathlon Canada thanks to Nadia and Maria. We’ve had a lot of people surprised by the quality of athlete that has come from Yukon.
“Nadia just sprang onto the scene in Canmore (Alberta) in December where she did really well in the youth-junior (world championship) trials. For her to do this shows we’ve got a good program going on up there (in Whitehorse) and we plan to continue trying to do this.”
Moser won a silver at the Biathlon Canada’s team trials for the Youth/Junior World Biathlon Championship, which was also a North American Cup race, in December. She was also the only Yukon athlete to win three gold medals at the 2014 Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks, Alaska.
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