Canada’s Rosanna Crawford and Nathan Smith Cap Off Solid Opening Week

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(ISN) – OESTERSUND, Swe.—Rosanna Crawford and Nathan Smith had one of their most consistent weeks in their careers on the World Cup after finishing with the top-15 in pursuit races in Oestersund, Sweden on Sunday.

Emerging as the new leaders of the Canadian Biathlon Team, Crawford, of Canmore, Alta., finished in the top-15 for the second straight day, placing 14th at 36:50.0 in the women’s 10-kilometre pursuit competition. Calgary’s Smith also had a solid outing, placing 16th in the men’s 12.5-kilometre pursuit with a time of 35:25.8.

“My legs were tired from four races this week. It always takes a bit to get used to racing this much,: said Crawford, who sits in 12th overall on the World Cup. “Overall I’m happy with how the week went. I know there is so much potential this year so I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Crawford proved once again she is ready to tangle with the world’s best biathletes. Starting time behind the leaders based on Saturday’s sprint results where she was 12th, Crawford missed one shot in each of her four rounds of shooting, which dropped her four spots in the standings.

“Missing one target isn’t that bad, but when you miss one every time it can be pretty frustrating. In 20-shot races – you need to shoot 85 per cent if you are starting behind”, said Crawford who also finished 16h on Thursday to start the World Cup season.

Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen won the women’s pursuit with a time of 35:01.7 (1+1+0+1) on a difficult day of shooting for the world’s best biathletes. Valj Semerenko, of Ukraine, was second at 35:49.6 (1+0+2+1). Italy’s Dorothea Wierer also missed four shots, but held on for the bronze medal after punching the clock at 35:50.0 (1+1+0+2).

Building on a near career-best ninth-place finish in the sprint race yesterday, Nathan Smith earned a spot with the top-60 biathletes on the planet for the 12.5-kilometre men’s pursuit.

“I knew to be competitive today I would have to shoot nearly flawlessly. While my skiing had been decent this week, it is still not on par with the best I’ve done,” said Smith. “Pursuits are also really a shooting-dominated event. Even though I was ranked mid-pack in ski speed, thanks to fast range times and accuracy I managed to stay in the mix until the last standing shooting.”

The 28-year-old Smith was on pace with the leaders mixing good ski speed with perfect shooting until his final stop at the range where he missed three shots, dropping one spot out of the top 15.

“Gliding onto the mat for that standing I had in my mind that a clean would probably guarantee a medal. Unfortunately I missed my first three shots,” added Smith. “I was feeling quite a bit of fatigue going in and I swear it was a little windier than normal for those 25 seconds.

“Even though I’m pretty disappointed about the final shooting, I’m actually very pleased with the overall race. It was another chance for me to experience a high pressure situation where a medal is possible. My skiing still has a little ways to go, but shooting feels crisp and confidence inspiring.”

Martin Fourcade, of France, set the golden pace with a time of 33:54.9 (2+1+0+1). Russia’s Anton Shipulin missed just one shot in four bouts of shooting to finish second at 34:04.9. Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen rounded out the men’s podium in third at 34:21.6 (0+1+0+1).

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