In their first competition of the season, two Yukon biathletes took in three medals and almost a fourth at the first Biathlon NorAm Cup of the season in Canmore, Alberta, over the weekend.
Against athletes from across Canada, Whitehorse’s Erin Oliver-Beebe won a gold and a silver while teammate Jennifer Curtis won a silver and also took fourth.
“I really felt like I could push myself and my skiing was way better than it was last year,” said Curtis. “Even though my shooting wasn’t as good as it could be – it wasn’t bad. My skiing definitely improved.”
To start the competition, on Saturday Oliver-Beebe won silver in a six-kilometre sprint, only missing three of 10 targets. Curtis, who finished fourth by less than 18 seconds behind third place’s Anna Eriksson from Camrose, missed six targets, three more than Eriksson.
In Sunday’s 7.5-kilometre pursuit race, it was all Yukon at the top, with Oliver-Beebe taking first and Curtis second – by a hair.
In the pursuit, skiers’ starting positions were based on their results from the previous day’s race, basically starting off where they left off. So, for example, a skier who finished second by 30 seconds would start second on Sunday 30 seconds behind the leader.
For the silver, Curtis chased Saturday’s top finisher, beating her over the finish line by a minuscule two-one hundredths of a second.
“She was quite a bit in front of me for most of the race,” said Curtis. “The last lap I just caught up to her.
“We didn’t even know (I beat her) until about half an hour afterwards.”
No stranger to climbing podiums, Oliver-Beebe, 16, won three silver medals at the Arctic Winter Games in March. She also won a gold and bronze in the 2008 Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife. Last year, she won gold and bronze at the 2009 Western Championships.
At the 2010 Canadian National Biathlon Championship in Canmore, Alberta, in March, Oliver-Beebe had the best results for Yukoners, coming fifth in the individual event, missing only three of 20 targets, and 10th in the sprint.
At nationals, Curtis came 17th in the individual event and 24th in the sprint.
The two will be competing this weekend in another NorAm Cup in Calaghan, just outside of Whistler, BC. For this one, Curtis and Oliver-Beebe will be competing up a category in the youth women age-group to qualify them for the Canada Winter Games this February in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In the older group, the two Yukoners will now be carrying their rifle throughout the race, where last weekend they didn’t.
Oliver-Beebe and Curtis stand to do well in Calaghan considering they were faster in the senior girls’ category than the top youth women competitors in Canmore by about three minutes.
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