(ISN) – RUHPOLDING, Ger.—Canada’s Megan Heinicke is putting together one of the top Biathlon World Cup stops of her career after sprinting to a personal-best 11th-place finish in Ruhpolding, Germany on Friday.
The six-year-veteran of the Canadian women’s squad was solid from start-to-finish on the skis and on the range, missing just one shot in her second round of shooting, to clock a time of 21 minutes, 59.7 seconds in the 7.5-kilometre sprint event.
“This was one of my strongest skiing performances ever. I simply felt strong and there is nothing more fun than fighting hard when you feel strong,” said Heinicke, who added she had great skis on the wet and slushy conditions. “Shooting wise I had been trying out some keywords and those were all I wanted to think about on the range. I have just been slowly getting more confident on the range. It is always great when the skiing and the shooting come together on the same day.”
The 26-year-old Heinicke continues to pick her way up the international standings. A two-time Olympian, Heinicke was part of Canada’s women’s relay team that had a best-ever fourth-place finish for the program just over one year ago. She kicked off the post-Olympic season with a career-best 12th place result in an individual race in Oestersund, Sweden. Topping that result on Friday, Heinicke was lightening quick in the women’s relay on Wednesday where she was second after the opening six-kilometre leg.
“I was really hoping to stay in 10th, but 11th is a new personal best and I am really pleased with the result,” added Heinicke. “I am really motivated by having several personal bests this season and I feel like the return of my self-confidence is good for me. I am planning to keep racing with the same determined, task-oriented approach, and who knows what can happen. I certainly wasn’t expecting these results to come this year.”
Norway’s Fanny Welle-Strand Horn shot clean to win the gold medal with a time of 21:07.4. Darya Domracheva, of Belarus, was also perfect in shooting en route to clocking a silver-medal time of 21:10.8. Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff missed one in her opening round of shooting, but held on for the bronze medal after stopping the clock at 21:16.7.
Three-time Olympian, Zina Kocher of Red Deer, Alta., was tracking solidly in the top-20 after shooting perfect in prone and enjoying good ski speed, but had three close misses in her standing round of shots, dropping her to 48th at 23:26.2. Quebec’s Audrey Vaillancourt placed 68h at 24:21.1 (1+0), while World Cup rookie, Julia Ransom of Kelowna, B.C., placed 81st at 25:03.2 (1+3).
Heinicke will get her first start ever in a mass start race with the top-30 athletes. Rosanna Crawford, who remained on the sidelines while nursing a cold, is expected to suit as well on Sunday.
The Biathlon World Cup continues on Saturday in Germany with the men’s sprint event.