(ISN) – OBERHOF, Ger.—A group of young guns gaining valuable experience on the World Cup battled through difficult weather conditions to post an eighth-place finish in the men’s relay as the elite biathlon circuit resumed in Oberhof, Germany on Thursday following the holiday break.
After three fog delays, the rain began pelting down as the world’s top men’s biathletes began the 4×7.5-kilometre relay. The Canadians were led by Calgary’s 21-year-old Christian Gow, who completed a solid leg with the lead pack, before handing off to fellow Stampede City resident Nathan Smith.
The 29-year-old Smith, who has been on a steady climb up the international standings over the last two years, handed off to Marc-Andre Bedard, of Valcartier, Que., in sixth spot which he hung on too despite taking a belly slide on the tricky conditions.
Competing in his first year on the senior national squad, Macx Davies of Canmore, Alta., took the anchor leg for the Canucks. The 22-year-old fought through the gusty winds to hang on for eighth spot with a combined time of one hour, 20 minutes, 55.3 seconds on a results page that was littered with shooting penalties.
“That was some of the most difficult shooting conditions of my life,” said Davies following the race. “I was feeling good on the skis. I am happy with eighth, but disappointed I wasn’t able to maintain the sixth-place my teammates had worked so hard to tag me in.”
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.
“Prone (shooting) was good. Although I used spares I still left without penalties,” said Davies. “I came into the final standing shooting in sixth, 15 seconds behind the Ukrainian athlete. Poor shooting, and two penalty loops, l left the range losing two positions and was set to battle two other countries (in the 24-team field) for the final ski leg.”
Russia won the men’s relay with a time of 1:15:24.1. Norway was second at 1:15:26.4, while France handily won the race for the bronze medal with a time of 1:16:56.4.
Earlier this year, a group of Canadians matched the nation’s best-ever finish in a men’s relay with a sixth-place finish in Hochfilzen, Austria.
The World Cup continues on Friday in Germany with the women’s sprint race.