February 15, 2013, NOVE MESTO, Cze. (ISN) – It may not have been the gift of a precious medal, but it was still a Valentine’s Day to remember for Canada’s Jean-Philippe Le Guellec who celebrated a career-best finish at the World Championships in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic on Thursday.
The 27-year-old Le Guellec added another chapter to what is developing into an intriguing story this year on the elite biathlon circuit, finishing in 10th in the men’s 20-kilometre individual start competition. The Shannon, Que. native missed just one target in his final round of shooting to clock a time of 51:31.4.
“I didn’t feel great skiing, but I had to be a bit more controlled than usual given a very hard course profile, and slow conditions to ski in,” said Le Guellec. “My tactic quickly shifted to shooting clean and fast. Top-10 is great all things considered, and it stamps my ticket for Sunday’s mass start race which I am very stoked about.”
A two-time Olympian, Le Guellec first captured the world’s attention on home snow at the 2010 Games when posted four, top-15 finishes including a sixth-place result in the sprint. Earlier this year, the soft-spoken Canuck accomplished the unthinkable when he became the fist Canadian male ever to ski onto a World Cup biathlon podium by winning a sprint competition in Oestersund, Sweden.
On Thursday he delivered his best again on the biggest biathlon stage of the season in a non-Olympic year.
“I think being in the top-15 on any day is a good day. It is so hard to continuously be there in such a deep field,” said Le Guellec. “I was aiming to get progressively faster throughout the event (World Championships), and that is what is happening. I have the podium in my sights each race now more than ever before, but my focus has to remain on the performance and let the result take care of itself.”
Le Guellec skied just shy of the history books again today at the World Championships. Steve Cyr posted the best-ever individual result for a Canadian male at the 1997 when he was ninth.
The day of personal bests for the Canucks didn’t end with Le Guellec. Two other Canadians also put down their career-best performances at the Biathlon World Championships.
“Today was a great day for us as a whole with solid shooting and skiing,” added Le Guellec. “It is so awesome to live that as a team on an individual race.”
Regina’s 29-year-old Scott Perras, who had the race of his life earlier this winter sprinting to 10th, clocked a time of 53:03.2 (0+0+1+1) to finish in 26th. Calgary’s second-year senior, Scott Gow, matched Le Guellec’s stellar shooting performance, to finish just outside the elite group of 30. The 22 year old placed 31st (0+0+0+1) with a time of 53:19.3. Calgary’s Nathan Smith rounded out the Canadian contingent in 63rd at 56:24.4 (0+1+1+1).
“If I look at how the week has gone, I’m happy with today, but if I consider the year I have had, I wanted a little more today,” said Perras. “This is my fourth time racing in Nove Mesto. The conditions are always great and I love racing here.”
Martin Fourcade, of France, won the competition with a time of 49:43.0 (0+0+0+1), while Tim Burke, of the United States, was second at 50:06.5 (0+0+0+1), and Sweden’s Fredrik Lindstrom claimed the bronze medal with a time of 50:16.7 (0+0+0+1).
The individual competition is the longest of the biathlon event disciplines, which demands precision on the range as a one-minute penalty is added to the total time for each missed target.
The World Championships continue on Friday in Nove Mesto with the women’s 4×6 kilometre relay.
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 in Canada. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Millennium Geomatics Ltd., Apogée Sports, Kama, Roeckl Gloves, Lapua, USANA, and Adidas Eyewear – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee and Own the Podium, 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.
Top-Five Men and Canadian Results:
1. Martin Fourcade, FRA, (0+0+0+1), 49:43.0; 2. Tim Burke, USA, (0+0+0+1), 50:06.5; 3. Fredrik Lindstrom, SWE, (0+0+0+1), 50:16.7; 4. Ondrej Moravec, CZE, (1+0+0+1), 50:31.6; 5. Bjorn Ferry, SWE, (1+0+0+0), 50:54.8
10. Jean-Philippe Le Guellec, Shannon, Que., (0+0+0+1), 51:31.4; 26. Scott Perras, Regina, (0+0+1+1), 53:03.2; 31. Scott Gow, Calgary, (0+0+0+1), 53:19.3; 63. Nathan Smith, Calgary, (0+1+1+1), 56:24.4.