(ISN) – POKLJUKA, Slo.—Skiing into new-found territory with the World Cup podium in her sights, Rosanna Crawford had a few more pre-race jitters than normal on Saturday, but still managed to hang on for a solid seventh-place finish in Pokljuka, Slovenia.
Starting time behind the leaders of Thursday’s sprint event, the 26-year-old Crawford was fourth out the gate and was on a hunt for the leaders and her first career podium throughout the women’s 10-kilometre pursuit competition. A little shaky in her first of four rounds of shooting, the most consistent athlete on the Canadian Biathlon squad missed her two first shots, which led to a seventh place finish with a time of 31 minutes, 16.0 seconds.
“I didn’t get too nervous until right before breakfast when it slowly started to sink in,” said Crawford, who has rattled off a fifth and fourth-place finish in her last two races. “I wanted to bring high focus right from the first shots in zero and carry that through the race. Unfortunately I think the pressure still got to me for the first shooting, and I missed one left, one right then the hits were all centre, so it was all me. I used that information for my next prone where I was more settled and focused for each shot.”
Darya Domracheva, of Belarus, hung on for the gold medal despite missing one shot in her final trip to the range, clocking a time of 29:55.9. Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen also missed one shooting to post a silver-medal winning time of 30:05.9, while the Ukraine’s Valj Semerenko won the bronze with a time of 30:32.7 (0+1+0+0).
Fighting off a sore throat earlier in the week may have knocked the two-time Canadian Olympian off her top form, but she remained in the mix with good ski speed despite her early struggle on the range.
“The pace was fine. My legs weren’t as good as on Thursday, but I just tried to work with the girls around me,” said Crawford. “Darya came out flying on the first loop. I stayed with her for a bit, but the pace was too fast for me. I found I’d lose the group on the long uphill at the two-kilometre mark, but would catch up coming back towards the range. I skied along a lot today.”
One Canadian who was flying on Saturday was Megan Heinicke, of Prince George, B.C., who shot clean to catapult up the standings into 14th place. The two-time Olympian clocked a time of 32:05.4.
“It is really inspiring to see Megan hit 20/20 and move up so many spots,” added Crawford, who now sits eighth overall in the World Cup standings. “I’m going to channel my inner Megan tomorrow for the mass start. This has been my best start to the season ever for me and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season holds. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. All I can control is skiing well and hitting targets. If that happens – anything is possible.”
Calgary’s Nathan Smith was 22nd in the men’s 12.5-kilometre pursuit with a time of 32:40.1 (0+0+1+2). Brendan Green, of Hay River, N.W.T., was 33rd at 33:06.0 (0+1+0+2)
Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen shot clean to win the men’s race with a time of 30:43.3. Russia’s Anton Shipulin was second at 31:01.1 (0+1+1+0), while Martin Fourcade, of France, missed just one shot in his third round of shooting to win the bronze medal with a time of 31:42.8.