The Biathlon Yukon season is in full swing with the early focus on preparing for the upcoming Arctic Winter Games trials for those eligible.
There will be two weekends of trials for the biathlon competition because of two different disciplines at the Games.
The first trial for the traditional biathlon competition on skis will be Dec. 9-10 consisting of two races in varying course lengths depending on the division.
Biathlon Yukon president Bill Curtis, who is also chief of course for the trials, said the performances in both the sprint and mass start competitions will be combined for a score in which the top two finishers in each division will qualify for the team.
The team for the biathlon ski competition will have eight members, two in each division of juvenile male and female and junior male and female.
But as that is not the only biathlon event at the Games, those who don’t qualify for the team still have a shot in the biathlon snowshoe event, essentially the same competition but raced on snowshoes rather than skis and Curtis explained the length of the races are shorter as a result.
The trials for the snowshoe team will be the following weekend Dec. 16-17 at the Biathlon Yukon range at Grey Mountain.
Athletes can’t be on both the ski and snowshoe teams so there will be eight different representatives in each event.
The snowshoe event is less common, Curtis said, and not an Olympic sport with the Games as the only competition the association competes in that includes the sport.
“It seems we only get participants in Arctic Winter Games years,” Curtis said. “The idea is that in the communities they don’t always have the ability to have skiing or people to teach skiing.”
For those who make the snowshoe team, Curtis said there are no competitions outside to prepare for the Games so they will continue training in Whitehorse, while the ski team will be able to compete in the Biathlon NorAm Cup in Whistler Jan. 5-7.
The Games in March run the same week as the 2018 Canadian Biathlon Championships and Curtis said because of
this, some of the top athletes are focusing on the nationals instead and won’t be competing for Games selection at the trials.
“It is influencing the selection for Arctic Winter Games,” Curtis said. “A number of athletes are going to focus on nationals.”
The team also usually makes a trip to Canmore, Alta. at the beginning of December but Curtis said to fit the two weekends of Games trials in, they didn’t go this year to focus on preparing for the upcoming races.
The distances for the Games races are also different than in most other sanctioned events, Curtis said, and so they are working on manufacturing course loops for the different distances.
Biathlon Yukon member Nadia Moser recently made her second straight senior IBU Cup team for Canada even though she could still be competing as a junior.
Curtis said along with a few other members who have competed for the club at Biathlon Junior World Championships, Moser is a role model for the Yukon biathletes.