First year Yukon biathlete captures bronze, silver and gold
March 10, 2012
Source: Whitehorse Star
The sounds of rifles firing, cowbells ringing, and fans cheering carried from the biathlon range and echoed down Grey Mountain Road Thursday afternoon.
Biathletes flocked to the local range to compete in the juvenile 5-kilometre mass start and the junior 7.5-km mass start.
As many expected, the Russian biathletes dominated the field, taking home the gold in each of the races except for one: the girl’s juvenile event.
That honour went to Yukon’s Nadia Moser.
The first-year biathlete has been sensational on the trails at the Games, capturing a bronze, silver and gold ulu.
“It feels a bit weird,” she told the Star on Thursday afternoon. “I’ve never won before in biathlon.”
Moser medaled in her first event, winning the bronze in the 5-km individual race on Monday. The next day she captured the silver in the 4-km sprint. On Thursday she completed the trifecta, winning gold in 5-km mass start.
“We weren’t expecting Nadia’s gold but she’s just gotten better and better,” said Dennis Peters, who coaches Team Yukon alongside Laurie Jacobs.
“She went from bronze, which was a surprise, to gold in her first year. It’s great.”
In her gold medal performance, Moser didn’t just win the race — she dominated.
She didn’t miss a target in two runs through the range, shooting cleanly before rushing with her skis back onto the trail.
She crossed the finish line in just over 24 minutes.
The second place finisher, Russia’s Valeriia Khrenova, was more than four minutes behind.
“I didn’t think I would shoot that well,” Moser said, modestly.
Peters said he’s been impressed with the Yukon field as a whole with each of the athletes setting personal bests during the week.
“Overall, it’s gone better than expected,” he said. “We’re really proud of all the Yukoners.”
Yukon’s Tristian Sparks also walked away with a medal on Monday, capturing the silver ulu in the 5-km individual junior male event. Sparks completed the race in just under 25 minutes. Joe Bue of Alaska won gold in while Yukon’s Jakov Tokic placed seventh.
In Thursday afternoon’s junior male 7.5-km mass start race, Yukon’s Ale Peters and
Will Rees placed in seventh and ninth.
Dmitirii Kuznetcov of Russia won gold in the event with a time of 31:41.
On the female side, Russia’s Vgeniya Smirnova took home the gold with a time of
35:29 while Yukon’s Olivia Findlay placed sixth.
Ale, who is competing in his second Games, said he knew to expect strong competition from his
“Last Arctics they won everything,” he said. “This year they are really strong again, but I didn’t expect them to be this good.”
All of the biathletes were slowed on Thursday by the heavy snowfall.
“It was really tiring,” said Ale. “It felt like the snow was sucking your feet into the ground when you’re trying to ski.”
The snow also affects the biathletes shooting, as they must counter the heavy breathing and fatigue with greater concentration to steady their rifles.
“When you’re tired and breathing really heavy it makes it a lot harder to shoot well,” said Ale.
Peters said the recent snowfall gives an edge to the well-conditioned skiers.
“It slows everyone down but for those that are well-conditioned, they are able to do better today,” he said.
Moser and Ale both said they were enjoying the opportunity to compete in front of a hometown crowd.
“Everything is familiar so that might give us a bit of an advantage,” said Ale. “It’s nice to hear everyone cheering for the Yukoners.”
Jacobs said that competing in the Games gives the Yukon athletes an opportunity to test their skills against some of the best competition in the world.
“It’s been great for our team,” she said. “It’s fantastic for them to compete in an event like this, facing great competition from all over.”
Jacobs also said the home range had been impressively transformed and prepared for the Games.
“The range, the stadium, the trails, everything just looks fantastic,” she said.
Jacobs said the positive attitude the team exudes has helped them perform so well despite challenging conditions against tough competition.
“We’ve had such good attitudes,” she said. “It’s been a fantastic week that way, the kids have just been giving their everything and we’ve done really well.”
Team Yukon will conclude their biathlon action today with the juvenile 4.5-km and junior 3-km mixed relays.
Ale said he’s hoping the team will do well but he doesn’t have any expectations.
“We’ll just try our best and hopefully we get some good results,” he said.
“It’s been a really good week.”