For two local biathletes, Saturday’s Yukon Championships at the biathlon range were more about training than competing.
Erin Oliver-Beebe and Jennifer Curtis, who make up the biathlon segment of Team Yukon for the Canada Winter Games, decided to enter the junior women category, the one they’ll be slotted into in Halifax.
At just 16, the two will compete against athletes as much as three years their senior at the Games. And those competitors will often have more experience in longer events.
To improve their odds, Oliver-Beebe and Curtis completed a 12.5-kilometre race, the longest either has ever completed.
“It was a great learning experience because I’ve never done a 12.5-kilometre race on the Yukon trails before,” said Oliver-Beebe. “It was good – it went by a lot faster than I thought it would. (I learned) how to pace myself for the longer races. I think I did a good job; I had enough to push it at the end.”
“It was pretty good. The weather was nice – kind of cold,” said Curtis. “It was hard to decide how fast to go because it was longer than we usually do.”
A staggered start is all that separated the two, both matching each other over four stops at the range and sprinting over the finish line together. Having started a minute after Curtis, Oliver-Beebe was first with a finishing time of one hour, seven minutes and 39 seconds.
Oliver-Beebe, in her first go in the standing position, was only one of two athletes at the championships to hit all five targets in one shoot.
“I like standing a lot more than prone,” said Oliver-Beebe. “It may be physically harder, but you get to shoot at bigger targets, so there’s an advantage there if you can hold steady.”
For Curtis, it was all consistency, hitting three of five targets in each of her four shoots.
“It’s good for racing, but not so good for regular shooting,” said Curtis. “It wasn’t like amazing, but it wasn’t horrible.
“I’m excited and I hope it’s going to be lots of fun, hopefully the races go well,” she added of the Games. “With that cold snap, I think I need to work on my skiing, because we didn’t get a lot in with the cold.”
In the only other division to have multiple participants, the junior boys’ six-kilometre individual, Tristen Sparks topped the field with a finishing time of 35:48, missing 10 targets over three shoots. Taking second was Will Reese with a finishing time of 41:05, just 20 seconds up from Jakov Tokic in third place.
Out for the longest race of the day was Jeremy Johnson, alone in the junior men’s 15-kilometre event, finishing with a runtime of 1:11:21, which, with just seven misses over four shoots, resulted in a time of 1:18:21.
Three other divisions had lone racers. Alejandro Peters completed the senior boys’ 7.5-kilometre event in 56:45; Claire Reid finished the junior girls’ six kilometre in 50:01; Liam Adel cruised over the finish line of the juvenile boys’ three-kilometre in 20:02.
Due to cold temperatures the second day of racing on Sunday, which would have included both junior and adult divisions, was postponed until next weekend.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com