Yukon biathlete Jake Draper has earned a chance to represent Canada at the Junior IBU Cup. His first event will be in Arber, Germany and will be followed by races in Austria.
Draper, 19, was selected to represent Canada after a strong showing at the trials for the Jr. World Championships and Jr. IBU Cup in Canmore, Alta.
“I was hoping to just qualify for anything,” said Draper. “I’m happy making the Junior IBU Cup, I’m still in university so it would have been difficult to go to the world championships.”
Draper currently attends the University of Calgary.
It will be Draper’s first time competing internationally and being in Europe when he begins his races in Germany. His friend, who has competed internationally has been helping him with some pointers.
“A teammate of mine is on the national team and he has been letting me know what to expect,” said Draper.
When it comes to his own expectations, he said he is just looking to leave it all out there on the snow.
“I’m excited to see where I place,” said Draper. “I’m not stressed, I’m ready to have fun. I’m just going to go out there and give it my all.”
Draper believes his shooting is his biggest strength.
“Right now I’m always a little bit slow on my skis but my shooting is good,” said Draper. “My shooting is quick and I have been pretty accurate with it.”
Coming out of the holiday season, Draper said his fitness is good but he is continuing to work on it before he travels.
“My coach will make sure I’m in the best shape possible before I leave,” said Draper.
Draper said he is hoping the Junior IBU Cup will be a good place to start for more competitive events.
“Right now this is a stepping stone to more competitive races,” said Draper.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like.”
In Germany, he will be competing in a 10-kilometre sprint and a 15-kilometre mass start. In Austria, there will be a 15-kilometre individual competition, a sprint and a 12.5-kilometre pursuit - a lot of races in a short period of time.
“Depending on how I do, I’ll have the potential to do even more,” said Draper.
Draper said he can’t wait to put on the Canadian suit and is looking forward to representing both the country and the Yukon on an international stage.
When his time in Europe is over, he will fly straight to Quebec for the Canadian championships. He said there may be more pressure on him there since he will now be an international athlete but he isn’t putting too much expectation on himself.
“We’ll see how I do there,” said Draper. “I’ll probably be pretty tired after racing in Europe and of course there is the jet lag.”
Draper will leave for Europe near the end of February.