Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

RUN AND SHOOT – Isla Hupé, left, moves on after a shooting round at the Arctic Winter Games snowshoe biathalon trials 2-km sprint race Sunday.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Annie Cable comes into the finish in front of Noah Marnik during the trials race Sunday. Both athletes qualified for a spot at the Games.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Anna Potvin, left, and Annie Cable shoot.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Isla Hupé, right, huggs Annie Cable afer she finished the race.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Ava Milner sprints away at the start of the Arctic Winter Games Snowshoe Biathalon trials Sunday.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Bruce Porter at the start.

Biathletes shoot their tickets to Arctic Games

After two weekends of competition, 14 young Yukon biathletes have punched their ticket to the 2018 Arctic Winter Games.

By Dustin Cook on December 19, 2017

After two weekends of competition, 14 young Yukon biathletes have punched their ticket to the 2018 Arctic Winter Games.

The multi-talented skiers and shooters raced in challenging snow conditions first on Dec. 8-9 in the ski biathlon competition consisting of two races.

Sixteen athletes in the four different divisions competed in the individual sprint race as a time trial on the opening day followed by a mass start race on the Sunday.

Based on combined times, the top two finishers in each division qualified for spots at the Games.

But for those who didn’t finish in the top two, there was another competition in the snowshoe biathlon to book a spot.

Biathlon Yukon head coach Bill Curtis said snowshoe biathlon isn’t a well-known sport and the Arctic Winter Games are one of the only competitions for it.

The newer sport to most of the young athletes attracted some new participants, Curtis said, and those who have little biathlon experience.

Again, the trials consisted of two races starting with the mass start and then the individual sprint.

The importance of offering two races, Curtis said, is because with the shooting element a lot can go wrong so a second race could be beneficial.

“On any given day results can change because there’s a skiing component but also a shooting component, so maybe that day they didn’t zero their rifle properly,” Curtis explained.

But it was a weekend of success for Kynan Elliott, Bruce Porter and Isla Hupé who won both races in their respective divisions to qualify for the Games.

Domonic Devine joined Kynan Elliott in the junior male division. Curtis said both athletes have not trained with Biathlon Yukon but are from the cadet program that uses the biathlon range once a week and participate in ski biathlon.

Noah Marnik finished in second in the juvenile male race to qualify for the Games ahead of newcomer Isaac O’Brien.

Curtis said O’Brien was completely new to the sport, competing in his first biathlon races on the weekend and he performed well for his first competition.

The juvenile female competition was the closest of the competition with four tight competitors.

Hupé and Annie Cable took the top two spots. Curtis said the two qualifiers embraced their friends and competitors Ava Milner and Anna Potvin who just missed out.

“They’re a very supportive group,” Curtis said. “Skiers generally are.”

For the junior females, there weren’t any competitors in the snowshoe biathlon, but Curtis said they do hope to send a full team and have a couple of biathletes in mind.

“We know of at least one or two others, they are biathlon kids,” he said. “We will work on it, to see if we can’t send a full team.”

The challenging weather conditions forced a few course changes and shortening of course loops. Particularly for the snowshoe races, Curtis said it took a lot of work to groom the trails to make them race ready but along with a team of volunteers they were able to have it ready to go.

The six-member snowshoe biathlon team will continue to train at the biathlon range on Grey Mountain as there aren’t any Outside competitions to attend ahead of the Games.

As for the ski biathlon team, Curtis said he will be taking them to Whistler, B.C. at the beginning of January for a Nor-Am Cup event and the world youth and junior trials.

It will be a chance for the athletes to participate against elite level competition in the lead up to the Games in March, Curtis said.

In Feburary, the team will make the trip down to Canmore, Alta. for the Western Canadian Championships.

In the 2016 AWG, the Yukon won 12 medals out of 14 events in the snowshoe biathlon event alone.

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