Members of Biathlon Yukon might not have claimed any medals at the 2016 Canadian Biathlon Championships, but it was the end of a very successful season nonetheless.
This season Yukon biathletes won medals at the B.C. and Alberta championships; amassed a team record of 27 medals at the Arctic Winter Games in Greenland; and produced two top-25 finishes at the IBU Youth/Junior World Championships.
Biathlon Yukon capped the big season with a small team at the nationals last week in Valcartier, Que.
“I was very pleased. We had a small team this year because the conflict with Arctic (Winter Games) and then we had two athletes who had medical issues the week before and had to back out, so we only had four,” said Yukon head coach Dennis Peters.
The Yukon team had its best results in arguably one of the toughest divisions – youth women.
Nadia Moser, who competed for Canada at the youth worlds, produced two fourth-place finishes in the division.
“She’s in a really, really tough category,” said Peters. “There are five girls who have been swapping podiums all year and they’re all training full time … They took all the podiums last year too.”
Moser placed fifth in the six-kilometre sprint last Wednesday before placing fourth in the 7.5-kilometre pursuit on Thursday. She hit 13 out of 20 at the range and was just 0.4 seconds behind the bronze medalist in the pursuit.
“These nationals were very interesting. It was super warm and slushy the first couple of days, and the last two days it had cooled down quite bit which made for very different snow conditions. Overall I enjoyed these nationals,” said Moser, who trains full time at the Biathlon Alberta Training Centre in Canmore. “It was really fun to compete with my teammates from Whitehorse again.”
Moser finished the individual races with fourth in the 10-kilometre race on Saturday. She shot 14 out of 20 and was 2:16.0 behind the winner. Moser won two silver at last year’s nationals and three medals at the 2015 Canada Winter Games.
“I feel like my performance was not as good as it could have been, although I am still fairly satisfied with the end results of my individual races,” said Moser. “I am definitely ready for a little time off before I start my summer training again.”
Yukon teammate Maria Peters was in the same division, which had 16 racers each day.
Maria placed 13th in the sprint, eighth in the pursuit and sixth in the 10-kilometre – cleaning both prone shoots on her way to hitting 18 out of 20.
“Maria is in Nadia’s group, so she’s up against those top five girls … She kept getting better throughout the week,” said Dennis. “To crack that top-five would be something. But she’s a year younger than most of those girls and she doesn’t train full time.”
Yukon had two male biathletes at the championships.
Jake Draper, who won a bronze at the Alberta championships at the start of March, raced in senior boys – a division with over 40 biathletes each day.
He shot 80 per cent to take 21st in the six-kilometre sprint last Wednesday and 70 per cent for 22nd in the 7.5-kilometre pursuit Thursday.
“He is the youngest in his age category and was right in the middle of the pack,” said Dennis. “Last year he was towards the bottom and to be in the middle is right where he should be. Next year, I have the feeling, he’ll move up quite a bit if he continues to train as hard as he does.”
Yukon’s Bruce Wilson, who competed in snowshoe biathlon at the Arctics with three individual medals to show for it, raced in youth men last week. He also shot 80 per cent to start off and take 21st in Wednesday’s 7.5-kilometre sprint and then 75 per cent to take 21st in Thursday’s pursuit. His shooting slipped a little in Saturday’s 12.5-kilometre mass start race, but still took 22nd out of 28.
“Bruce only started biathlon a couple years ago in Grade 11, so for him to go to nationals and to be competing at this level is really quite amazing,” said Dennis. “His goal was to have good races and he had good races. He’s one of these kids who is always positive; he comes off the course all smiles.”
In Sunday’s relay races, Wilson, Maria and Moser teamed up for eighth out of 10 teams in the youth division. Maria cleaned both times at the range and Wilson once.
Draper was on an unofficial team with a Manitoban and a New Brunswicker in the senior boys/girls relay. He cleaned both shoots and was sixth fastest on his leg.
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