Whitehorse biathlete Jake Draper raced into the top five at the Calforex Cup No. 3 on Sunday in Camrose, Alta.
More impressive: he was the only 15-year-old to do it.
Draper, who is a member of Biathlon Yukon’s Velocity Squad, placed fifth out of 19 in the senior boys six-kilometre sprint. The four biathletes in front of him were 16.
“It went super good. My shooting wasn’t the best – I shot six out of 10, which is not as good as I usually do – but my skiing was way better than usual,” said Draper, who finished with a time of 21:44.95. “The trails were just super fast and I was feeling it that day. I just had the speed.”
Draper, who has another season in senior boys ahead of him, doesn’t seem to mind taking on older competition.
He raced up a category at last year’s Canadian Biathlon Championships, placing 20th out of 41 in the senior boys six-kilometre sprint for his best finish.
“I was just going for the experience, to figure out how it would be to ski the longer trails,” said Draper.
More recently Draper shot 80 per cent to take ninth out of 35 in the same race at the Calforex Cup No. 1 in Canmore last month.
Draper produced three fourth-place finishes at the 2014 Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks.
Even though he would pretty much be guaranteed a spot on Yukon’s biathlon team for the Arctic Games this March in Greenland, Draper has decided to instead focus on provincial competitions and the Western Canadian Biathlon Championships, to prepare for nationals.
“The nationals are two days after the Arctics finish, so I made the decision to not go to Arctics and go to Westerns instead because I’d like to have the best races at nationals that I can,” said Draper. “I feel it’s more worth it just to go to nationals than Arctics.”
Also in Camrose on Sunday, Yukon’s Judith Hartling placed fourth out of seven competitors in the masters women six-kilometre sprint and teammate Bernard Johnson ninth out of nine in the masters men six-kilometre sprint.
The Calforex Cup also had a race on Saturday scheduled, but it was cancelled due to cold temperatures.
Strong performances at Calforex Cup races can lead to great things, as Yukon’s Nadia Moser recently demonstrated.
With three consecutive podium finishes at Calforex Cup No. 2 last month, the 18-year-old earned a spot on Team Canada for the IBU Youth/Junior World Championships at the end of the month in Romania.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” said Moser in a recent interview. “I’m really happy about it. Really excited about the experience. I’m looking forward to it.”
Moser won a silver and two bronze at the 2015 Canada Winter Games – Yukon’s first-ever medals in the sport at the Games – and two silver at the national championships at the end of the season.
She then moved to Canmore in July to train full-time at the Biathlon Alberta Training Centre.
“Hopefully I’ll be at the training centre too once I graduate,” said Draper. “That’s what I’m aiming for.”
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