—Crawford finishes as top Canadian woman in 23rd, Nathan Smith 24th in solid outing for men—
POKLJUKA, Slo.—Rosanna Crawford will be looking for more when she leads a group of eight Canadians into Saturday’s World Cup biathlon pursuit races after a 23rd place finish in Friday’s sprint race.
Crawford, of Canmore, Alta., missed just one shot in her final round of shooting to clock a time of 21 minutes, 29.2 seconds in the women’s 7.5-kilometre sprint race.
“I’m feeling a bit frustrated with my ski speed right now. The shooting has been pretty good but the shape isn’t quite there,” said Crawford, who adjusted her offseason training this year with hopes of peaking towards the end of the season. “I knew that with changing things the first trimester of racing might now be where I want to be. Hopefully things pay off and the ski speed will come.”
Marie Dorin Habert, of France, shot clean to claim the gold medal at 20:17.8. Two Germans were also perfect in shooting to bring home the silver and bronze medals. Laura Dahlmeier was second at 20:18.9, while Franziska Hildebrand secured the final spot on the podium after clocking-in at 20:30.8.
The 27-year-old Crawford will be joined by two other Canadian women in a group of the fastest 60 athletes in Saturday’s pursuit race. Canada’s 22-year-old Julia Ransom of Kelowna, B.C. continued her solid rookie season on the World Cup with a 31st-place finish. Ransom clocked-in at 21:44.1 (1+0). Megan Tandy, of Prince George, B.C., will also start the pursuit thanks to her 51st-place result. Tandy went 1+2 on the range to post a time of 22:18.6.
For the first time in the history of the sport, Canada will send five men to the start line of a World Cup pursuit race. Calgary’s Nathan Smith may have led the way for the Canadians in the 10-kilometre sprint race after crossing the finish line in 24th at 2:24:18.4 (1+0), but it was young guns who made a charge for the elite group of 30. Macx Davies, of Canmore, Alta., finished 34th at 24:31.3 (1+0), while Calgary’s Scott Gow finished on Davies’ heels in 35th with a time of 24:32.5 (0+1). The younger Gow brother, Christian, was also rock solid on Thursday – shooting clean to secure 37th spot with a time of 24:33.8. Brendan Green, of Hay River, N.W.T., will also suit up on Saturday thanks to his 46th place result in the sprints. Green posted a time of 24:49.8 (0+2).
“This has been a pretty good start for the team, and our younger athletes are definitely ahead of where I was at their age,” added Crawford. “I think the good results by the older athletes in the past few years has allowed us to better prepare athletes coming up. With more support on Tour, less Tour fees, and more money put towards summer training – the results are showing with many of the team members getting World Cup points.”
The top-three men were all perfect in shooting. Germany’s Simon Schempp won the gold medal with a time of 23:02.5. Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen finished 15 seconds back in second at 23:17.7, while Evgeniy Garanichev, of Russia, won the dash for the bronze with a time of 23:27.6