It didn’t take long for last week’s Arctic Winter Games in Nuuk, Greenland to have the appearance of being an historic one for Biathlon Yukon.
On the first day of racing, Yukon ski and snowshoe biathletes won 10 medals – one more than Yukon won at the entire 2014 Games for biathlon.
“Our team shot really well … I think it’s because we train in difficult conditions, in the wind and in the cold,” said Yukon coach Laurie Jacobsen. “Our kids are becoming very fine shooters. They are just so comfortable with it they just took it with them to Greenland. We had some really good performances in the shooting.
“That team is just a fantastic team. We really work well together and they’re such good kids and it was just a fantastic experience. I couldn’t ask for a better team.”
By the end of competition on Friday, Yukon had raced to a team record of 27 medals in ski biathlon and snowshoe biathlon, more than a quarter of the 100 Team Yukon brought home from the Games.
Whitehorse brothers Liam and Aidan Adel produced the lion’s share of the gold medals in Nuuk.
Liam, 17, won Yukon’s first gold medal of the Games, taking first in the junior male’s 7.5-kilometre ski biathlon race on March 8.
“I was quite happy to take gold with the competition out there,” said Liam. “It really did prove to me the training the coaching staff has provided has done well for me and the other athletes. It felt really good to win that race, it kind of set up the whole week.”
Liam went on to take another gold in the six-kilometre sprint and a bronze in the 7.5-kilometre mass start race.
“I feel pretty lucky to be part of that team, to come down and do as well as we did,” said Liam. “The training and time has been put in and it obviously reflected in our results. The coaching staff has done a great job getting these athletes ready.”
“The highlight for me was coming in and overcoming some interesting conditions: a new range, a flat course with no hills, no trees. It was good to come and shoot and ski as well as I did on an unfamiliar course and watch the whole team adapt so quickly.”
Younger brother Aidan picked up his medals in juvenile male snowshoe biathlon. The 14-year-old won gold in the 2.5-kilometre mass start race and in the two-kilometre sprint.
“It was my first year with the team and it’s a great team,” said Aidan. “The fact that we all went there, did as well as we did in a new place, and the fact we stuck together as a team, felt really good.”
“My first gold medal, I was very surprised,” he added. “I was very happy that for my first international competition I could do that well.”
Aiden wasn’t the only fairly new biathlete to have success in Nuuk. Whitehorse’s Veronica Porter, who is in just her second season of biathlon, won a silver in the juvenile female snowshoe biathlon sprint and helped Yukon’s relay team win bronze.
“It was pretty fun. It was really interesting to meet all the people and having everybody winning a bunch of medals,” said Porter, 12.
“I like the combination of the skiing and the shooting. It’s really fun,” she added.
“There was a day where you could go out and try it to see if you wanted to join, so we tried it out and I really liked it so I joined.”
Yukon actually won 28 medals last week if you count the Alberta Provincial Biathlon Championships in Hinton. Whitehorse’s Jake Draper won a bronze at the championship on March 6.
Two other factors may have contributed to the success of the Yukon biathletes in Greenland. Yamal, Russia – which won 46 medals in biathlon at the last Arctics – didn’t enter a biathlon team this year. Also, for the first time in years Yukon had a full team with 16 athletes competing in ski and snowshoe biathlon.
“I think all but one of these snowshoe biathletes are also ski biathletes and decided to take up snowshoeing just for Arctics,” said Jacobsen. “We had one girl, Hanna Korn, who came in for snowshoe biathlon and now she’s going to try skiing.”
Contact Tom Patrick at
Ski biathlon medals
Liam Adel (7.5 km individual)
Liam Adel (6.0 km sprint)
Dana Sellars (5.0 km individual)
Aidan Hupe (5.0 km individual)
Maria Peters (7.5 km individual)
Bronwyn Goodwin (4.0 km sprint)
Maria Peters (6.0 km sprint)
Maria Peters (7.5 km mass start)
Team Yukon (3×4.5 km relay)
Bronwyn Goodwin (5.0 km individual)
Romeo Champagne (5.0 km individual)
Micah Hildes (7.5 km individual)
Daniel Sennett (6.0 km sprint)
Dana Sellars (5.0 km mass start)
Liam Adel (7.5 mass start)
Snowshoe biathlon medals
Bruce Wilson (4.0 km mass start)
Aidan Adel (2.5 km mass start)
Aidan Adel (2.0 km sprint)
Team Yukon (3×2.0 km relay)
Bruce Wilson (3.0 km sprint)
Veronica Porter (2.0 km sprint)
Marika Kitchen (4.0 km mass start)
Marika Kitchen (3.0 km sprint)
Marika Kitchen (5.0 km individual)
Bruce Wilson (5.0 km individual)
Aidan Adel (3.0 km individual)
Team Yukon (3×2.0 km relay)