Do not let the lack of snow fool you, the winter sports season is beginning to ramp up. Over the weekend Biathlon Yukon had a team of athletes competing in the combined North American Cup #1/Calforex Cup #1 which took place in Canmore, Alta.
Biathlon Yukon had eight athletes compete in the Saturday and Sunday races. The race on Saturday was a sprint race with two bouts of shooting, one prone, and one in the standing position, and three loops of skiing.
Depending on how the athletes did on Saturday in the sprint race, determined the athletes starting position in the pursuit race Sunday, which is an interval start. The interval start is five seconds between each athlete. The pursuit race has two bouts of shooting, two prone and two standing, and five loops of skiing.
For the competing athletes it was their first race of the season, as well, it got them on skis, due to the lack of snow.
“They did really well,” said coach Rebecca Parnum. “We haven’t had much snow, so they haven’t been able to ski to heavily. This race got them on skis, and for being their first race on solid snow they all did fantastic.”
The weekend’s races featured athletes from across North America, giving the athletes valuable experience for before Nationals and the Canada Winter Games.
“Alberta has a bigger biathlon community,” said Parnum. “This was a great experience against bigger groups of athletes. With more athletes the races were more challenging and more competitive. It was nice to get them in a competitive atmosphere, it is nice to be around.”
The trip was referred to as the senior trip, youth and masters athletes in the men and women’s categories participated.
Before competing in the two races the message to the athletes was to treat this as a learning experience.
“There is of added pressure in these races, and obviously everybody wants to come in first,” said Parnum. “Things get sped up but you put what you learned in practice into a race situation, the race is a training experience. It’s about focusing in the range, calming down so they can shoot, especially with someone else beside you.”
On Saturday, Aidan Hupe secured third place in the 6-kilometre Senior Boys sprint race, finishing in a time of 19:59.5.
His teammate Romeo Champagne, in the same event, crossed the end line in 20:15.6, good for fourth place.
Two female athletes competed in the Senior Girls sprint race. Veronica Porter, competing for the first time in Canmore placed sixth in 24:29.5. Emma Marnik, 27:04.6, came in 16th.
Bronwyn Goodwin-Williams, did not miss a target Saturday, she placed fifth, with a time of 24:26.6, in the Youth Women category. Amelie Latour, 30:50 came in the 14th position.
Bernard Johnson, racing in the Master Men (35+), place 16th in a time of 30:23.1.
In the Sunday pursuit races, Hupe placed 10th in the 6.25-Km race, in 28:19.9. Champagne placed just ahead of his teammate in 27:58, securing ninth.
Porter, 34:10.4 placed 13th on Sunday in the Senior Girls pursuit race. Marnik’s race time of 33:42.6 was good for ninth.
In the Youth Women pursuit races, 7.5-Km, Goodwin-Williams time of 39:16.4 secured her seventh place.
Johnson crossed the finish line of the Master Men 7.5-Km pursuit race in a time of 46:37.8. Judith Hartling, competing in the Master Women 6.25-Km pursuit race completed her race in a time of 49:48.5.
All the athletes who travelled to Canmore are all set to compete at Nationals for the Yukon. All the racers, minus Porter due to age eligibility, are trying to make the team which will represent the Yukon at the Canada Winter Games.
Yukon athlete, Jake Draper, who is now training in Canmore and Calgary, competed in Youth Men categories over the weekend. In Saturday’s sprint race Draper came in fifth place. In his 10-Km pursuit race Sunday, Draper finished in a time of 33:56.5, good for first place and the gold medal.
Draper, still a member of Biathlon Yukon, will also be representing the Yukon at Nationals and is vying for a position on the Canada Winter Games team.