Yukon biathletes on the mark at season opener

Local veterans and a newbie were earning hardware at the North American Cup/Calforex Cup in Alberta over the weekend to begin the biathlon season.

Local veterans and a newbie were earning hardware at the North American Cup/Calforex Cup in Alberta over the weekend to begin the biathlon season.

Long-time Yukon biathletes Erin Oliver-Beebe and Jennifer Curtis, along with first-time competitor Nadia Moser, each won a medal at the Canmore event that hosted more than 250 participants from around North America.

Moser, 14, who took up biathlon this year and was competing in her first event outside of the Yukon, hit six of 10 targets in the sprint on the way to a silver in the Developmental 1 division of the Calforex Cup.

“She was keen to go to this Outside race; right away she wanted to go,” said Yukon head coach Laurie Jacobsen. “She shot six out of 10 in her first race and that’s quite an accomplishment for someone who just started biathlon. And she skied really well to get a silver.”

Curtis also had success in the Saturday’s sprints. Racing in the NorAm Cup’s youth women division, Curtis knocked down seven of the 10 targets in the six-kilometre race for bronze.

“Shooting seven out of 10 and a phenomenal ski race earned her the bronze medal,” said Jacobsen. “And that’s a big step for Jennifer.”

Competing for the Canmore Nordic Club, Yukon’s Oliver-Beebe reached a higher step on the podium with a silver in Sunday’s 7.5-kilometre pursuit race. Oliver-Beebe shot clean in her second prone on her way to hitting 16 of 20 targets.

“It was great race; I felt really good in it,” said Oliver-Beebe. “My shooting was fairly good.”

Along with a fourth-place finish in the sprint race, one spot behind Curtis, Oliver-Beebe is now ranked third in points for the NorAm Cup series.

“It was the first race of the season, and I had some kinks to work out, but it was pretty good,” said Oliver-Beebe. “My shooting wasn’t as good as I’d like it to be, but it wasn’t bad. I hit three and four (out of five) so my shooting improved on the second day.”

“She was racing for her club so she wasn’t representing the Yukon,” said Jacobsen. “But we are so proud of her for getting that silver medal.”

Though not winning a medal, Yukoner Ryan Burlingame had the sharpest eye and steadiest hand on the range. Burlingame, who was competing for the University of Augustana Vikings, went 10 for 10 to take fourth in the junior men’s 10-kilometre sprint. He then hit 17 of 20 for fifth in the 12.5-kilometre pursuit.

A total of 10 Yukon biathletes waxed their skis and checked their sights for the event.

Yukon’s Tristan Sparks, competing in the Calforex Cup’s Development 2 division, placed 11th in the sprint before moving up to eighth in the pursuit on Sunday.

“He had an eighth-place finish out of 22 boys, so we’re looking forward to – Tristan is too – the Westerns and he’s going to try to do better there,” said Jacobsen. “He got an eighth-place finish so I think that’s moving up for our young team.”

Representing the Yukon in the senior boys, Alejandro Peters took 20th in the sprint and 17th in the pursuit. Will Rees placed 21st and then 22nd in the same races.

Other top finishes include Jakov Tokic at 17th in the Developmental 2 sprint. Daniel Sennet and Liam Adel coming fifth and sixth respectively in Developmental 1’s sprint race.

Both Curtis and Oliver-Beebe represented the Yukon at the Canada Winter Games last February in Halifax. Both took in top-20 results, although they were years younger than most of the field, and are eligible to compete at the next Games in 2015.

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