(ISN) – CANMORE, Alta.—Battered and beaten down while facing one of the most difficult competitive races of her career, Canada’s Zina Kocher proved there is still gas left in the tank by winning the silver medal on Sunday at the IBU Cup on her home trails in Canmore, Alta.
“It feels amazing. I have had to work all year to try and get this, and I finally put it together,” said an emotional Kocher – a three-time Olympian from Red Deer, Alta. “It has been the most difficult year ever for me. I’m just so happy.”
The only Canadian woman to have stepped onto a World Cup podium since Myriam Bedard, Kocher has battled to combine strong shooting and skiing on the same day for much of the last five years. But the 32-year-old aging warrior will not go down, and on Sunday proved to many she still has what it takes to take down the best. Kocher clocked a time of 20:16.5 (0+1).
“There is definitely huge fire inside of me that says get it together for god sake,” said Kocher. Knowing the accomplishments I’ve had in the past helped me. I really just wanted to enjoy the fact I’m racing at home.”
“I just tried to break it down, and do it in three intervals,” added Kocher. “We just broke things down to three laps. I had a play zone and a think zone and when I was shooting I wasn’t thinking – keeping it simple today.”
Motivated by watching her young teammate, Emma Lunder, hop onto the podium for the first time of her career yesterday, Kocher put everything on the line in her final lap.
“It was so exciting for me as an older athlete finishing my career to see all these young athletes coming up that are so strong,” said Kocher. “I didn’t have that when I started. Today was extra special to have so many of my former teammates, friends and family around. Tonight will be a good celebration!”
Germany’s Karoline Horchler won for the second straight day, shooting clean with a time of 19:58.7. Marine Bolliet, of France, also won her second bronze with a time of 20:36.9 (1+0).
Other Canadian women’s results included: Emma Lunder, of Canmore, Alta., in 16th at 21:31.4 (1+2); Erin Yungblut, of Wroxeter, Ont., placed 17th at 21:35.1 (0+0); Melanie Schultz, of Canmore, Alta., was 29th at 22:46.6 (1+0); and Quebec’s Claude Godbout finished 30th with a time of 22:48.1 (1+3); and Ottawa’s Leilani Tam Von Burg was 33rd at 23:25.6 (1+1).
The IBU Cup, which is a feeder series to the World Cup with the top biathletes on the globe competing in both circuits, marks the return of major international biathlon competitions to Canada. Since the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, Canada has previously hosted the IBU Cup in 2012, along with the 2009 and 1992 Youth and Junior World Championships as well as World Cups in the 1990’s. Canada will host a World Cup race in 2016.
In the men’s race Marc-Andre Bedard led the Canadians for the second-straight day in the 10-kilometre sprint. Bedard, of Valcartier, Que., was 19th at 26:04.9 (1+0).
“Physically it was way better today, but I’m still not exactly where I want to be,” said Bedard. “I shot nine, which was good, but felt much faster on the skis. I needed yesterday to get the toxins out.”
Germany’s Florian Graf shot clean to win the gold with a time of 24:36.1. Antonin Guigonnat, of France, was second with a time of 24:48.6 (1+1). Germany’s Christoph Stephan clocked-in at 25:02.9 for the bronze medal.
Regina’s Scott Perras placed 23rd at 26:18.8 (2+0); Matthew Neumann, of Prince George, B.C., skied to 34th with a time of 26:56.8 (1+1); Matthew Hudek, of North Battleford, Sask., was 36th at 27:29.2 (0+3); Calgary’s Andrew Chisholm finished 40th with a time of 27:37.9 (0+1); and Macx Davies, of Canmore, Alta., finished 42nd at 27:56.8 (3+2).
The IBU Cup continues on Wednesday in Canmore with the individual competitions.