Whitehorse’s Nadia Moser and Maria Peters are preparing for the biggest races of their lives.
The two biathletes are set to represent Yukon at the Canada Winter Games next month in Prince George, B.C.
“I’m really excited to go. I think it will be a really fun experience,” said Moser.
“I’m really excited. I think it will be a really good experience for me,” echoed Peters. “I’m not really hoping to podium because I don’t think that’s realistic, but I’m hoping that I’ll do my best.”
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Moser and Peters continued their preparations for the Games at the 2015 Yukon Biathlon Championships over the weekend at the Biathlon Yukon range on Grey Mountain Road.
The two members of Biathlon Yukon’s Velocity Squad raced up age divisions in junior women, skiing a 12.5-kilometre course Saturday and 10-kilometre course Sunday for their first time to prepare for the distances they will race in Prince George.
“They were not quite as long as I was expecting them to be, which is good,” said Peters. “(My times) were pretty much what I expected them to be.
“I’ll be a bit slower than all the girls competing (at the Games), but they’ll all be up to five years older than me.”
Moser and Peters were the only two in the junior women division at the championships, with Moser placing first both days. Peters, at 16, will be eligible to compete at the 2019 Games while Moser, 17, will just miss the cutoff in 2019.
On Sunday Moser hit 16 out of 20 at the range on Sunday for the best at the championships that day, twice cleaning house.
Peters cleaned house on her final trip to the range in Saturday’s 12.5-kilometre race - no small feat, said Velocity Squad coach Dennis Peters.
“They had extremely long courses because we asked them to ski the courses they will be skiing at the Canada Games,” said Dennis. “Maria was actually skiing up three ages and Nadia two ages, which was a push for them, but they came through it in fine style.
“A lot of the time when athletes do a long course like that, they struggle and shoot really poorly the last time they come through the range. But both Nadia and Maria cleaned up on their standings.
“We actually discovered after the first day the course they were running was a quarter kilometre longer than it should have been.”
The weekend’s championships saw a record 19 members of the Velocity Squad take part. Just a few years ago the high-performance team had 10 or less members.
“We’re actually over capacity now. We having a hard time handling all the kids, which is a great problem to have, ” said Dennis.
“In the last race (for senior boys) the top three finishers were seesawing back and forth the entire time.
“So a lot of it came down to the last shooting bout where whoever shot best managed to cross the finish line first. It was good competitions for all of them.
“Last year they were competing in the junior category where it’s all prone (position shooting). So for them to come in and do as well as they did, it made the coaches feel pretty proud.”
Velocity’s Liam Adel topped the competitive senior boys division on Saturday and teammate Jake Draper won it Sunday with Daniel Sennett and Adel hot on his heels.
Three biathletes were winners both days.
Brian Healy won the masters men 7.5-kilometre race on Saturday, shooting 16 out of 20, and then the open men’s 12.5-kilometre mass start race Sunday.
Torsten Petersson captured the top spot in junior boys both days and Micah Hildes won the junior girls both days.
“Both Torsten and Micah, it’s their second year in biathlon,” said Dennis. “Torsten this year has just excelled, his shooting has improved great, his skiing is coming along.
“This was one of their last races as junior, next year they’ll be seniors, and they are exactly where we want them to be. They’re racing well, they’re shooting well.”
A pair of brothers each took a win. Marsh Lake’s Lucas Taggart-Cox won the Bears three-kilometre race Saturday and brother Caius won the division on Sunday.
Last month Moser won a silver medal at a national team trials event, which was also a North American Cup, in Canmore, Alta. Moser qualified for next month’s Youth/Junior World Biathlon Championships, but was passed over by Biathlon Canada, which decided to bring more older competitors to the worlds.
Moser was Team Yukon’s only athlete to capture three gold medals at the 2014 Arctic Winter Games last March in Fairbanks, Alaska. Peters won a silver and a bronze in junior female at the Games.
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