POKLJUKA, Slo.—Rosanna Crawford edged one step closer to becoming the third ever Canadian woman to win a World Cup biathlon medal with a fourth-place finish in the sprint competition in Pokljuka, Slovenia on Thursday.

Feeding off the fastest time of the day that propelled her to a fifth-place finish in last weekend’s pursuit race, the 26-year-old Crawford one bettered herself to start the third World Cup of the season, placing fourth with a time of 20 minutes, 54.1 seconds in the 7.5-kilometre sprint. Crawford was also fourth nearly one year ago with her teammates in a World Cup relay in France.

“I can definitely feel that a podium is within reach, but I’m staying focused on the process,” said Crawford. “Wishing and hoping for a top-three won’t get me there. Skiing well and hitting targets will be the key to success.”

Staying true to those goals, the two-time Olympian from Canmore, Alta. has been rock solid on the skinny skis and on the range throughout the year. She missed just one shot on Wednesday in her first of two rounds of shooting.

“The mats were quite slippery for standing shooting, so I really had to take my time and reset a few times,” added Crawford, who was battling a sore throat heading into the race. “I might have lost some time there (in standing), but I was happy to leave having hit them all.”

Gabriela Soukalova, of the Czech Republic, shot clean to take the gold with a time of 20:17.3. Italy’s Dorothea Wierer was also perfect in shooting en route to winning the silver medal with a time of 20:35.7, while Valj Semerenko, of the Ukraine, grabbed the bronze at 20:42.0 (0+0).

Crawford has been a model of athlete development over the last three years – consistently mixing it up with the best in the sport, pushing into the top-20, top-15 and now regularly in the top-10.

“My confidence is building every race. I am really excited for two more chances this weekend to have a great day,” said Crawford.

Megan Heinicke, of Prince George, B.C., was 41st at 21:57.6 (0+2). Sarah Beaudry, also of Prince George, B.C., missed one shot in her opening round on the range, placing 66th with a time of 22:48.2.

The men take centre stage on Friday at the World Cup in Pokljuka with a sprint race of their own.

Biathlon Canada is the governing body for biathlon in the country, and oversees the IBU Cup, World Cup, Canadian Championships, Eastern and Western Canadian Championships, and North American Cups held in Canada. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Mackenzie Financial, Millennium Geomatics Ltd., iON Worldwide, Kama, Roeckl Sports, Lapua, Icebreaker, USANA, and One Way 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 on the Internet.

For Complete Results:
Top-Five and Canadian Results:
1. Gabriela Soukalova, CZE, 20:17.3 (0+0); 2. Dorothea Wierer, ITA, 20:35.7 (0+0); 3. Valj Semerenko, UKR, 20:42.0 (0+0); 4. Rosanna Crawford, Canmore, Alta., CAN, 20:54.1 (1+0); 5. Olga Podchufarova, RUS, 20:56.1 (0+0).
Other Canadian Results:
41. Megan Heinicke, Prince George, B.C., 21:57.6; 66. Sarah Beaudry, Prince George, B.C., 22:48.2 (1+0).