Canadian Women’s Biathlon Squad Skis to 11th in World Cup Relay

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(ISN) – RUHPOLDING, Ger.—A determined group of Canadian biathlon women battled through wet snow and rain to finish in 11th spot in a World Cup relay on Wednesday in Ruhpolding, Germany.

Led by two-time Olympian, Megan Heinicke of Prince George, B.C., took advantage of her lightening quick skis to complete her leg of the 4×6-kilometre loop. Heinicke, 26, enjoyed a solid day from start-to-finish to set the pace for the Canadians in their 11th-place finish at 1:29:31.5.

“We had awesome skis today and the highlight of the miserable weather,” said Heinicke. “The conditions were slow and super wet, but it was an awesome feeling to feel slow and still catch up to the other nations. The last loop was hard. I really enjoyed the fight to the finish line and was stoked to pass off to Julia (Ransom) in second place.”

Ransom, a 21-year-old World Cup rookie from Kelowna, B.C., continued her solid season of shooting. Shooting clean in prone, and showcasing nerves of steel in standing, the young Canuck lost some time on the field in skiing, but handed off to Quebec’s Audrey Vaillancourt in sixth.

Fresh off a recent illness, Vaillancourt posted the third fastest time in the range for her leg, setting things up for Zina Kocher’s, of Red Deer, Alta., anchor leg. Kocher was a rocket on the skinny skis, but changing wind conditions played havoc on the range dropping the Canadians to the middle of the pack.

“The finish shows us a lot of potential, especially in the very wet conditions today,” added Heinicke. “We had a team meeting with Norway’s Olympic champion, Halvard Hanevold, last night and I think he contributed to us starting the relay with a great attitude and team feeling.”

The relay consists of each athlete skiing 6 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.

The Czech Republic won the relay with a time of 1:23:57.7. Belarus teamed up for the silver medal at 1:25:11.0, while Germany locked up the final spot on the podium with a time of 1:25:37.0.

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