—Four Canadian women earn pursuit start positions for just third time ever—
OESTERSUND, Swe.—Nathan Smith wrapped up one of the most successful opening weekends ever on the World Cup for Canada’s biathlon squad with a 10th-place finish.
Starting time behind the leaders based on results of Saturday’s sprint race, the 29-year-old Calgarian looked to hunt down the podium, but was not able to make up any ground on the field and settled in for the final spot in the top-10 at 32:37.5 in the men’s 12.5-kilometre pursuit race.
“I was looking for a top-six today, and I knew a medal was a possibility if everything fell into place,” said Smith.
The tricky Oestersund conditions got the best of Smith once again who missed one shot in each of his two prone rounds of shooting, and final standing.
“I had moved into sixth place, and was fighting for a podium in the last shooting. Unfortunately, I had one miss, which was costly, and I ended up leaving the range with a couple of the fastest skiers. I just didn’t have it in me on the last lap and lost a spot. This is still a great result for myself, and moves me into the top-10 in the overall rankings,” said Smith.
“Last year I learned that on a good day I can be top-10 and on a perfect day on the podium. With some more improvements in testing and racing over the summer, regular top 10s are something I expect, sprinkled with an odd podium when everything goes right.”
Martin Fourcade, of France, took top spot in the men’s pursuit with a time of 31:22.4 (1+0+1+1). Germany’s Arnd Peiffer was second at 31:57.5 (0+1+0+0), while Quentin Fillon Maillet, of France skied to the bronze with a time of 32:17.6 (0+0+1+1).
Just 24 hours since putting together his career-best 10th-place performance in Saturday’s sprint, Macx Davis of Canmore, Alta., was getting his first start in a pursuit race. Davies grabbed the final spot in the elite group of 30 with a time of 34:11.2 (1+0+1+1). Brendan Green, of Hay River, N.W.T. was the only other Canadian in the men’s field. Green made up 17 spots on the field to finish 38th at 34:43.3 (0+1+1+0).
For just the third time in the history of the sport, Canada sent four women to the start line in a pursuit race. Each of those starts have come in the last three years – a true sign of the development of the program.
Rosanna Crawford, of Canmore, Alta., led the way for the Canucks. The 27 year old held close to her start position despite a difficult day of shooting. Crawford placed 23rd at 33:26.0 (1+2+1+1).
Megan Tandy, of Prince George, B.C., bolted up the leaderboard with a nearly perfect day of shooting. Tandy missed just one shot in her final bout of standing to clock a 25th-place time of 33:28.0. Rookie Julia Ransom, of Kelowna, B.C., rounded out a solid opening week on the World Cup with a time of 34:19.1 (2+0+2+0) for 36th spot. The day after celebrating her 33rd birthday, Zina Kocher was also back on the start line for a pursuit race. The three-time Olympian from Red Deer, Alta., posted a time of 35:12.6 (1+0+3+3).
Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen skied to the gold in the women’s race with a time of 30:45.1 (1+0+1+0). Saturday’s sprint winner, Dorothea Wierer of Italy, dropped one spot into the silver medal position with a time of 30:47.0 (0+0+1+0), while Germany’s Franziska Hildebrand shot clean to win the bronze medal at 30:48.4.
It was arguably one of the best opening weekends ever for the Canadian Biathlon Team on the World Cup. Rosanna Crawford and Nathan Smith kicked things off with a silver medal in the rare individual mixed relay. Crawford had a 13th-place finish in the individual race, and led by Smith’s back-to-back finishes in the top-10 the Canadian men also proved strong. The highlight of the week was 21-year-old Macx Davies shocking the world with a perfect day of shooting to finish 10th in the men’s sprint.
“It is certainly a positive sign the good feelings we’ve been having through the training season have been right,” said Smith. “I think this will be a great season for both myself and the rest of the team. This week has been super motivating for our team and will give us the right momentum for the beginning of the season.”
The World Cup now travels to Hochfilzen, Austria for the second stop.
Top-Five Men and Canadian Results:
1. Martin Fourcade, FRA, (1+0+1+1), 31:22.4; 2. Arnd Peiffer, GER, (0+1+0+0), 31:57.5; 3. Quentin Fillon Maillet, FRA, (0+0+1+1), 32:17.6; 4. Tarjei Boe, NOR (1+0+1+0); 5. Emil Hegle Svendsen, NOR, (0+2+0+1), 32:21.4
10. Nathan Smith, Calgary, (1+1+0+1), 32:37.5; 30. Macx Davies, Canmore, Alta., (1+0+1+1), 34:11.2; 38. Brendan Green, Hay River, N.W.T., (0+1+1+0), 34:43.3.
Top-Five Women’s and Canadian Results:
1. Kaisa Makarainen, FIN, (1+0+1+0), 30:45.1; 2. Dorothea Wierer, ITA (0+0+1+0), 30:47.0; 3. Franziska Hildebrand, GER, (0+0+0+0), 30:48.4; 4. Dorin Habert, FRA, (1+0+1+1), 5. Gabriela Soukalova, CZE, (1+0+1+1), 30:57.9.
23. Rosanna Crawford, Canmore, Alta., (1+2+1+1) 33:26.0; 25. Megan Tandy, Prince George, B.C., (0+0+0+1), 33:28.0; 36. Julia Ransom, Kelowna, B.C., (2+0+2+0), 34:19.1; 51. Zina Kocher, Red Deer, Alta., (1+0+3+3), 35:12.6