Yukon biathletes Erin Oliver-Beebe and Jennifer Curtis found themselves in the bottom quarter of the field at the BC Cup 1 over the weekend at the Whistler Olympic Park.
All things considered, they were strong results.
In preparation for the Canada Winter Games in Halifax, the two senior girls athletes competed against people one and even two age-groups above them in the two-stage event.
As a result, the Whistler races represented a couple of firsts for the two 16-year-olds.
Never before had they competed in a 10-kilometre race and they had never raced with their rifles. (In younger categories, biathletes leave their guns at the range.)
“It was a great experience because I learned a lot, just getting used to skiing with my rifle and skiing a longer distance,” said Oliver-Beebe. “The whole shooting process was different – the setting up and taking down.
“It only weighs seven-and-a-half pounds, but it still makes a difference. It’s a lot slower going with your rifle.”
“We were originally going to race up in youth women, but then we decided to race up another category in the junior trials, which is junior and youth – two age categories on top of us,” said Curtis. “On the day of the race we found out it was longer than we were expecting.”
The BC Cup was made up from two stages, grouping together a 7.5-kilometre sprint on Saturday and a 10-kilometre pursuit on Sunday with athletes leaving the start line at the same intervals as they finished the sprint.
Missing five of 10 targets on the opening day, Oliver-Beebe took 16th and then maintained her position through Sunday for a 16th-place finish.
“It’s the longest race I’ve done in biathlon so far,” said Oliver-Beebe. “I don’t have much other to say about it other than it was a good experience to go to these races, get that race experience.
“These past two events, my shooting has not been great. It’s not usually like this, so I think I have to work a little bit on it.”
Curtis, who finished 17th in the sprint, despite some clean shooting on Sunday, dropped a spot to finish 18th.
“Opposed to last week, when I thought my skiing was really good, it was a really hard course and things could have gone better,” said Curtis. “It was either uphill or downhill; there was no flat (terrain).
“Especially with the rifle – you don’t want to fall because it can damage the rifle or it can hit you in the head, stuff like that.”
In their first race of the season at the first Biathlon NorAm Cup of the season in Canmore, Alberta, the previous weekend, Oliver-Beebe won a gold and a silver while Curtis won a silver and also took fourth.
“Our coaches put in a lot of time and (Biathlon Yukon head coach) Judy Hartling left right after the race to go on her vacation and she missed part of that,” said Curtis on Monday. “She really put in a lot of work.”
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