—Davies only athlete in field to shoot clean, Nathan Smith fires into ninth spot—
OESTERSUND, Swe.—You can add the name Macx Davies to the list of Canadians that are ready to mix it up with the top biathletes on the planet.
The young 21-year-old Canuck turned in the performance of his life on one of the most challenging courses on the World Cup circuit in Oestersund, Sweden, which is known for its blustery conditions, and punishing steep climbs.
No fear to the young Canuck, Davies, who fired into a career-best 10th-place finish in the men’s 10-kilometre sprint competition with a time of 25:35.2 against an extremely deep and talented international field.
“Everything feels surreal at the moment. I keep seeing the result sheet and not believing that I’m actually in the top-10,” said Davies. “I knew today that good shooting would make a big difference and I felt good on my skis from the start of the race so I really tried to push myself as far as I could go. This result provides me with the confidence that the big names I have idolized growing up are in fact human, and I am competitive with them.”
In a race where wind played a huge factor, Davies defied the odds and was the only man in the field to shoot clean in his two trips to the range, putting his name up alongside many of the legends in the sport on the top page of the leaderboard.
“A big difference I think was because I was the only guy to forget to load all 10 shots in my clips. When I got to the range the fist time I realized I only had five shots in my rifle. That really allowed me to stop thinking about results and focus on hitting every target,” added Davies who was able to communicate with wax crews on the course to get his coach Matthias Ahrens to get another clip over to the officials on the range for his second round of shooting.
“That clip was too small so I had to push each bullet in by hand which slowed down my shooting and again forced me to think of each shot more individually than as a whole. It is funny now but I think this really slowed me down and made me focus more.”
One of those great names in the top-10 was World Cup and World Championship medallist from Canada, Nathan Smith. The Calgarian missed one shot in both of his stops at the range to post a ninth-place time of 25:24.3.
Martin Fourcade, of France, missed two shots of his own en route to winning the race with a time of 24:02.0. Germany’s Arnd Peiffer was second at 24:53.6 (0+1), while Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen held on for the bronze at 24:57.2 (1+1).
Who is this Macx Davies?
Growing up in Canmore, Alta., with biathlon deeply rooted in the family blood as his father Ken is heavily responsible for bringing international Nordic ski events to Canada, Davies has been a steady progression through the biathlon ranks. Competing in just his second year on the senior squad, Davies has only a handful of World Cup starts under his belt.
But as impressive as his breakthrough performance on the World Cup is, so to is his ability behind a piano. The accomplished pianist has been playing and performing since he was a kid – a telltale sign of the versatility which is required to excel in a sport like biathlon that tests endurance on the skinny skis with precision while finding a sense of calm on the range.
It was also a rock solid day for the Canadian women who will all earned spots in Sunday’s pursuit thanks to their results in the 7.5-kilometre sprint event. Rosanna Crawford, of Canmore, Alta., led the way for the Canucks, placing 22nd at 21:05.3 (1+1). Veteran Zina Kocher, of Red Deer, Alta., showed she still has some fight left in her finishing 27th at 21:10.5 (1+0). Julia Ransom, of Kelowna, B.C., was 32nd (21:23.9) (1+0), while Megan Tandy, of Prince George, B.C. finished 46th at 21:46.2 (1+1).
“These results mean that we are on the track and the Canadians will be a force to reckon with this year,” added Davies. “I believe the whole Canadian team is no longer looked at as underdogs. We are making a place for ourselves among the top nations and now I want to look to improve on my top-10 result moving forward.”
Gabriela Soukalova, of Czech Republic, shot clean to win the women’s race with a time of 19:46.2. Italy’s Federica Sanfilippo was also clean in posting a silver-medal time of 20:01.2. Olena Pidhrushna, of the Ukraine, rounded out the women’s podium at 20:24.6 (1+0).
Other Canadian men’s results included: Brendan Green, of Hay River, N.W.T. finishing 55th at 27:14.4 (2+3); Calgary’s Scott Gow was 67th at 27:46.5 (27:46.5); and Christian Gow placed 70th at 27:51.5 (2+3).
The opening World Cup of the season wraps up on Sunday in Sweden with the pursuit races
Top-Five Men and Canadian Results:
1. Martin Fourcade, FRA, (1+1), 24:02.0; 2. Arnd Peiffer, GER, (0+1), 24:53.6; 3. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, NOR, (1+1), 24:57.2; 4. Quentin Fillon Maillet, FRA, (1+1), 25:06.2; 5. Benedikt Doll, GER, (0+3), 25:10.5
9. Nathan Smith, Calgary, (1+1), 25:24.3; 11. Macx Davies, Canmore, Alta., (0+0), 25:35.2; 55. Brendan Green, Hay River, N.W.T., (2+3), 27:14.4; 67. Scott Gow, Calgary, (3+2), 27:46.5; 70. Christian Gow, Calgary, (2+3), 27:51.5
Top-Five Women’s and Canadian Results:
1. Gabriela Soukalova, CZE, (0+0), 19:46.2; 2. Frederica Sanfilippo, ITA, (0+0), 20:01.2; 3. Olena Pidhrushna, UKR, (1+0), 20:24.6; 4. Franziska Preuss, GER, (0+1), 20:26.0; 5. Tiril Eckhoff, NOR, (1+0), 20:26.6
22. Rosanna Crawford, Canmore, Alta., (1+1), 21:05.3; 27. Zina Kocher, Red Deer, Alta., (0+1), 21:10.5; 32. Julia Ransom, Kelowna, B.C., (1+0), 21:23.9; 46. Megan Tandy, Prince George, B.C., (1+1), 21:46.2