Nathan Smith

—Smith heads into holiday break with second best mass start finish of his career—


POKLJUKA, Slo.—Nathan Smith will head into the holiday break having put down the second best finish of his career in a World Cup mass start event. The Calgarian finished 12th in Pokljuka, Slovenia on Sunday.


“The sprint and pursuit this weekend were really disappointing physically. I had no expectations going into this race, but was pleasantly surprised that I felt so much better on course,” said Smith. “Skiing was strong and my shooting kept me within reach of a medal.”


Starting in row four in the exciting mass start race with the top-30 athletes in the world, Smith finished just 25 seconds off the podium pace under ideal race conditions for the 15-kilometre men’s mass start. Smith, who will turn 30 on Christmas Day, took three 150-metre penalty loops after missing one shot in each of his final three trips to the range to post a total time of 36:00.8.

“It’s pretty much a fact in biathlon that in order to medal in a mass start you have to shoot clean in the final standing. I had one miss, which left me a penalty loop behind at the end.”

Smith has had good success on the Pokljuka course. One year ago he chalked up the best mass start finish of his career in Pokljuka when he was ninth.

“The mass start is a race of attrition. If your skiing is good you can stay in the hunt, but each trip to the range separates the field more and more. If you’re lucky the frontrunners may not be pushing the pace so it’s possible to catch back up with a miss early on,” said Smith.

“After not feeling well on Thursday and Saturday today was a big boost to my confidence heading into Christmas break.”

Jean Guillaume Beatrix, of France, shot clean to win his first World Cup race. Beatrix was first to cross the finish line with a time of 35:33.7. Two Norwegians filled the final two spots on the podium. Emil Hegle Svendsen was second at 35:34.0 (0+0+1+0). Ole Einar Bjoerndalen missed one shot in both his first standing and first prone to finish third with a time of 35:36.2.

The Canadian squad will return to home on Monday as the World Cup takes a break for the holidays. Canada will host the IBU World Cup in Canmore, Alta., February 1-7, 2016.