(ISN) – KHANTY-MANSIYSK, Rus—One week removed from his historic silver medal at the Biathlon World Championships, Canada’s Nathan Smith was in the podium mix again – this time at the final World Cup of the season in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.
Now a regular in the top-10, the laid-back Calgarian was in top form while putting together a fifth-place finish in the men’s 10-kilometre sprint competition. Smith, 29, missed just one target in his opening standing round of shots to clock a time of 24:21.0.
“I was a little worried coming into the week that I may be a little tired from all the racing at the World Championships, but today went really well again and it looks like I’ve recovered well,” said Smith.
“The course was in excellent shape. I would say the best condition of the winter. There was a little wind, which is always a factor here it seems, blowing up off the tundra. Thankfully it was at a reasonable level where it didn’t seem to affect the shooting too much.”
Martin Fourcade, of France, shot clean to win the final men’s sprint of the year with a time of 23:47.0. Russia’s Anton Shipulin was also clean shooting en route to winning the silver at 24:00.0, while Germany’s Benedikt Doll won the bronze medal with at time of 24:05.3 (0+1) in a tight finish for third.
Canada’s Brendan Green, of Hay River, N.W.T., also suited up on Thursday and finished 30th at 25:10.5 (0+1).
The strong results have now officially secured the men’s squad a ninth-place finish in the overall Nation’s Cup points on the World Cup.
“This is a historic high finish for our men’s programs which means we will now have an additional start next season the World Cup,” said Chris Lindsay, who added four Canadians are permitted to start a men’s World Cup this so next year there will now be five. “This is a very important benchmark for us as we will now be able to start five men when the World Cup makes its return home to Canmore for the first time in more than two decades.”
The Canadian Biathlon Squad has enjoyed a stellar season. Smith became the first Canadian male, and only athlete since two-time Olympic champion, Myriam Bedard, to ever win a World Championship Biathlon medal last week in Finland. Along with Smith, Rosanna Crawford and Brendan Green, have also piled up a handful of top-five finishes this year for the Canadians.
“The medal has definitely given me the confidence thinking that when I have a perfect race there’s no reason why I can’t be vying for a podium spot,” added Smith. “In biathlon not many people enjoy perfect races all the time so I think having quite a number of top-10’s under my belt this winter is something I can be proud of. It takes a combination of a lot of skill and a little luck to get on the podium on any given day.”
The final World Cup of the year continues on Friday with the women’s sprint race.