by Chris Dornan
March 23, 2014, OSLO, Nor. (ISN) – Rosanna Crawford saved her best for last – storming into the top-10 at a Biathlon World Cup for the first time of her career.
Crawford, of Canmore, Alta., put down the performance of her life with an eighth-place finish against the best 30 women’s biathletes in the world on Sunday in 12.5-kilometre mass start race at final World Cup of the season in Oslo, Norway.
“It’s been a long season and now almost three months in Europe so I’m very happy to end the season on a positive note. A new personal best is now a great place to set my goals for next season,” said Crawford, who sprained her left thumb in yesterday’s pursuit race after she collided with a Russian coach and landed on her back and rifle. “I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent so shooting was the key today, but right now I can’t wait to get home and relax, recover, see my family and my dog!”
Starting near the back of the pack, based on her international ranking, the 25-year-old Crawford hunted down the world’s best while putting together four rounds of solid shooting and quick ski speed. Crawford missed just one shot in her opening of four rounds of shooting, to clock a time of 40 minutes, 21.1 seconds (1+0+0+0).
“My shooting wasn’t very good at the Olympics, and I left the Games really disappointed with my performance,” added Crawford. “I’ve been very close to the top-10 in the last six races since the Games so to finally get there is great!”
Zina Kocher, of Red Deer, Alta., also earned a spot on the start line with the top-30 on Sunday. The three-time Olympian, who has been flirting with the top-15 this year with Crawford, was fast on the skis despite struggling in her last two rounds of shooting standing. Kocher placed 21t at 41:44.3 (0+0+3+3).
Slovakia’s Anastasiya Kuzmina won the final race of the season with a time of 39:44.8 (1+2+1+0). Slovenia’s Teja Gregorin was second at 39:48.6, while Marie Dorin Habert, of France, placed third at 39:53.1 (1+2+0+0).
Crawford, Kocher, and the Canadian biathletes have been putting together a memorable run this year. A team that regularly skies under the radar, nearly every Canadian on the World Cup squad has found their way into the top-15 and a handful of top-10s. An all-around solid performance at the Olympic Winter Games was highlighted by Jean-Philippe Le Guellec’s fifth-place finish. The team has built on this success and been in the top-15 since. Earlier in ther year, the Canadian women also posted a historic fourth-place finish in the team relay prior to the holiday break, the Canadian women also put two athletes in the top-15 in the same race twice this year for the first time ever.
“Our team has come a long way and was very strong this year,” said Crawford. “We will take this momentum into the summer and come back even stronger next year. I can’t wait to see what we can do after a summer of training.”
No Canadian men qualified for Sunday’s mass start.