CANMORE, Alta.—Nathan Smith welcomed the world to Canada, and successfully defended his home training centre by winning his first career biathlon gold medal at the IBU Cup in Canmore, Alta. on Saturday.
The 26-year-old Calgarian put his name in the history books as one of a handful of Canadian biathletes to win an international competition after posting the fastest time of 26:13.4 in the men’s 10-kilometre event.
“I knew if I had a good ski day and shot well I could be right up there,” said Smith, who became the sixth Canadian to medal at an IBU Cup earlier this year when he won the bronze in Obertilliach, Austria. “It is really special to win my first race in Canmore. I have trained here my whole life so overall I’m very happy.”
Smith was joined on the podium by Russia’s Sergey Klyachin in the silver-medal position at 26:18.4, and Norway’s Martin Eng in third after clocking-in at 26:20.0.
Eight other Canadian men also hit the start line. Ottawa’s Robin Clegg finished ninth with a time of 27:09.0; Marc-Andre Bedard, of Valcartier, Que., was 15th (27:46.5); Patrick Cote, of Grand Sault, N.B., placed 16th (27:50.5); Calgary’s Scott Gow finished 25th (28:46.0); Matthew Neumann, of Prince George, B.C., placed 31st (29:13.7); Calgary’s Tyson Smith was 32nd (29:20.0); Calgary’s Beau Thompson was 41st (29:44.3); and David Gregoire, of Chartierville, Que., finished 48th (30:39.0).
Growing up down the road from the Canmore Nordic Centre, Rosanna Crawford took advantage of her home turf to clock an eighth-place time of 22:07.6 in the women’s event. The 23-year-old Olympian shot clean to finish as the top Canadian in the women’s 7.5-kilometre sprint.
“I knew it was going to be about shooting today and so I took it one shot at a time,” said Crawford. “This is where I train day in and day out and I know everything about this range so it worked today. Ilove Canmore and it is great to be racing at home.”
Russia’s Marina Korovina captured the gold with a time of 21:04.7. Germany’s Carolin Hennecke was second at 21;07.2, while Juliane Doll, also of Germany, claimed third spot with a time of 21:13.8.
Other Canadian women’s results include: Yolaine Oddou, of Quebec, in ninth (22:08.6); Megan Heinicke, of Squamish, B.C., 11th (22:15.3); Megan Imrie, of Falcon Lake, Man., 14th (22:45.6); Claude Godbout, of Quebec, 23rd (22:39.4); Melanie Schultz, of Camrose, Alta., 34th (23:43.7; Kathryn Stone, of Grand Prairie, Alta., was 32nd (25:44.4); and Alberta’s Cindy Clark was 33rd (26:19.4).
Across the pond, Canada’s Zina Kocher sprinted to her best result of the season, finishing 12th, at a Wolrd Cup biathlon competition in Kontiolahti, Finland on Saturday.
The 29-year-old Kocher, of Red Deer, Alta., missed just two shots in her two rounds of shooting to clock at time of 24:13.7 in the women’s 7.5-kilometre sprint competition in brutally cold conditions.
“I have been focusing on a few technical aspects in shooting and my goal today was on perfecting the work we have been doing,” said Kocher, who has been struggling on the range this year. “Today I left with a higher level of confidence and was a hair away form a top-eight result as my last shot in standing went halfway up and then back down again.”
Germany’s Magdalena Neuner missed just one shot en route to winning the gold with a time of 23:07.4. Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen clocked a silver-medal time of 23:19.7, while Darya Domracheva, of Belarus, finished third at 23:24.4.
The biggest hurdle of the day for the two-time Olympian and World Cup bronze medallist came on the bus getting to the venue. Heavy traffic prevented the bus from moving, forcing Kocher and many of her World Cup competitors no choice but to tape up their faces, put on layers of clothing and walk the final 1.5-kilometres to the venue in the freezing conditions, or risk missing their start time.
“A tiny bit stressful, but like any good Canadian, I think I managed just fine,” said Kocher.
Biathlon Canada is the governing body for biathlon in the country and oversees the Canadian Championships, Eastern and Western Canadian Championships, and North American Cups held inCanada. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Millennium Geomatics Ltd., Apogée Sports, Kama, Auclair Gloves, Lapua, USANA, and Adidas Eyewear – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee and Own thePodium, Biathlon Canada’s mandate is to provide national level programs for the continuous development of biathlon athletes from the grassroots to the elite level. For more information on Biathlon Canada, please visit us at www.biathloncanada.ca on the Internet.
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