(ISN) – HOCHFILZEN, Aut.—Four Canadian men from across the country teamed up to match the best-ever finish for the nation in a biathlon World Cup relay when they finished sixth on Saturday in Hochfilzen, Austria.
The Canadian squad of Calgary’s Nathan Smith, Brendan Green (Hay River, N.W.T.), Marc-Andre Bedard (Valcartier, Que.), and Regina’s Scott Perras had their best race of the season, clocking a time of one hour, 19 minutes, 10.2 seconds (1:19:10.2) in the ideal conditions on the 4×7.5 kilometre relay.
“I got off to a rocky start in prone on the first leg, but had my best skiing of the year and solid standing to bring us back up into top-six contention when I handed off to Brendan,” said Smith. ” This result especially means a lot because it is really boosted our team’s morale after yesterday’s disappointment in the sprint.”
Smith has been the shining light early in the season as the Canadian men have gotten off to a slow start.
“It’s been a frustrating start for most of the men. Today we were focused on doing our job during each leg and racing to the best of our abilities,” said Green who skied second. “It was solid racing by all of us, and is a definitely a confidence booster for the team. We’re starting to feel stronger and hopefully will continue to improve, and find our stride as the season progresses.”
The relay consists of each athlete skiing 7.5 kilometres with two bouts of shooting. The first starter of each team begins in a simultaneous mass start with other participants, and complete their leg before handing off to the next teammate. Competitors in the relay each carry three spare rounds. If all five targets are not knocked down with the first five rounds, the spares may be used, which takes more time because they are loaded by hand.
Russia won the men’s relay with a time of 1:16:14.8. France grabbed the silver medal at 1:16:35.0, while the Norwegians captured the bronze at 1:19:10.2.
The Canadian women of Prince George, B.C. natives, Sarah Beaudry and Megan Heinicke, teamed up with Rosanna Crawford, of Canmore, Alta., and Quebec’s Audrey Vaillancourt to place 11th at 1:13.51 in the women’s 4×6 kilometre relay.
The German women set the golden pace at 1:11:40.4. Belarus was second at 1:12:01.5, while the Czech Republic finished third with a time of 1:12:02.6.