Lone Yukon biathlete wins bronze at westerns

Whitehorse biathlete Jake Draper has a pair of matching medals. Both are bronze and from the same event, but separated by three years.

Whitehorse biathlete Jake Draper has a pair of matching medals. Both are bronze and from the same event, but separated by three years.

The 16-year-old won a bronze at the Western Canadian Biathlon Championships in Hinton, Alta., over the weekend. He also won a bronze at westerns in 2014 — the only other time he competed at the event.

Draper, who is a member of Biathlon Yukon’s Velocity Squad, was the only Yukoner at the championships.

He won bronze in the senior boys 6.25-kilometre mass start race on Feb. 25, finishing with a time of 25:35.3, just 1:14.9 behind the gold medalist from Calgary.

Draper cleaned in both his prone shoots — hitting 10 out of 10 — and went five for 10 standing.

He then placed fifth in the senior boys six-kilometre sprint on Feb. 26. He clocked a time of 27:21.0 and was less than four seconds from winning a second bronze medal.

At the start of the year Draper won two gold medals at a Calforex Cup event in Canmore, Alta., beating all the biathletes who outpaced him in Hinton.

“During my races I was recovering from pretty bad cold that I had, so my skiing wasn’t quite on par and I could feel it the whole time,” said Draper. “Other than that it was pretty good.

“My shooting kind of struggled a bit both days.”

In Sunday’s sprint Draper hit only two for five at the range in prone but then cleaned standing. Usually biathletes shoot better in the prone position.

“It was pretty inconsistent,” said Draper. “I didn’t adjust enough in prone … the wind threw me off, I guess.”

Draper is one of seven members of the Velocity Squad heading to the nationals next week in Canmore, Alta. He hasn’t won a medal at nationals after two appearances, but he did collect gold and silver at last year’s B.C. championships.

“Hopefully I feel better than I did last weekend,” said Draper. “Hopefully I’ll be able to do well and, yeah, I’m pumped.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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