Lone Yukon biathlete consistent at Canadian championships

Whitehorse's Ryan Burlingame didn't have any Yukon teammates to cheer him on at the North American/Canadian Biathlon Championships at the Whistler Olympic Park this week.

Whitehorse’s Ryan Burlingame didn’t have any Yukon teammates to cheer him on at the North American/Canadian Biathlon Championships at the Whistler Olympic Park this week.

The 21-year-old, who was the only Yukon biathlete at the event, still produced some good results. And he wasn’t totally alone.

“It is different, in a sense, but I am staying with Team N.W.T,” said Burlingame. “It’s kind of like a Club Northern right now.”

Burlingame placed 11th overall in all three races in the open men division and was the eighth Canadian in all three as well. It was his fifth Canadian championship, but his first in the open men’s division.

“It was really fun actually, it was an interesting experience,” said Burlingame. “The courses were fun, the competition was pretty tough and I’m pleased with my results.”

Burlingame had some good trips to the range during the championship. He shot at 80 per cent in the 10-kilometre sprint on Saturday.

He then shot at 75 per cent in the 15-kilometre mass start on Tuesday. Burlingame shot clean both times in prone, but dropped to 50 per cent while standing.

“I lost my train of thought for my second standing – my fourth bout of shooting – and missed four shots, unfortunately,” said Burlingame of the mass start race.

In the 12.5-kilometre pursuit on Sunday, he shot at 60 per cent from prone and 50 per cent from standing.

The championships, held at the same biathlon park as used in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, had a nostalgic element for Burlingame.

“My first nationals ever were in 2008 and it was in Whistler,” said Burlingame. “I was a senior boy and I return in 2013 and I’m senior man, which is kind of full circle.

“I didn’t remember the course quite as well as I thought I did, but it’s just as fun.”

During the regular season, Burlingame competes for the University of Alberta in Augustana, the only Canadian university with a collegiate biathlon team.

The Canadian championship were the trials for the 2013 Universiade Winter Games, set to take place in Trentino, Italy this December.

“I think I made it, but we won’t know for a couple weeks,” said Burlingame. “I feel good about it though.”

The championships closed out a strong season for Burlingame, who won two gold at the Western Canadian Biathlon Championships in February.

“It’s been really good,” said Burlingame of the season. “I learned quite a bit about myself, racing in the open men category, which is pretty fun.”

His two gold at westerns made it four in a row. Burlingame won two gold at last year’s westerns during his last season in junior men.

He also placed sixth in the sprint and seventh in the pursuit at last year’s national championships while competing for Team Alberta.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com