—Four Canadians ski into top-40, Davies 25th, Nathan Smith 31st, Scott Gow 34th, Brendan Green 40th—
CANMORE, Alta.— Macx Davies took advantage of sleeping in his own bed for the first time ever the night before a World Cup race to lead the Canadians with a 25th place finish in the men’s sprint race on Thursday at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
On a day that required perfect shooting to be in the mix with the world’s best, the 23-year-old Davies fired two clean rounds in the men’s 10-kilometre sprint event to place 25th at 25:37.2.
“Clean shooting is always nice especially on a day like today when it seems all the field is doing good shooting. You had to be clean to be close to the lead today,” said the World Cup rookie, who posted a career-best 10th earlier this year in Sweden. “ My skiing – I was hoping for a little better, but I was able to keep pace with those guys so overall I was happy with everything today.”
Growing up minutes from the trails at the world-renowned Canmore Nordic Centre which was welcoming back the top biathletes on the planet for the fist time since hosting the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, thanks in large part to Davies’s dad Ken who is race chair this week, the younger Davies fed off the energy of the passionate Canadian crowd who lined the technically challenging biathlon course.
“It was exciting. In the warm-up everyone kept calling my name. I was like these people actually know who I am. They were cheering for me throughout the shooting too. We don’t get that in Europe so for me it was a boost. It was pretty cool to have that hometown crowd.”
The top-three athletes all shot clean under the nearly ideal race conditions. World Cup leader, Martin Fourcade of France, hammered the pace to win the gold with a time of 23:51.5. Russia’s Anton Shipulin was second at 24:07.2, while Germany’s Simon Schempp finished just 18.7 seconds off the leading place to claim the bronze medal with a time of 24:10.2.
Davies was joined in the top-40 with three of his Canadian comrades.
Heavy legs and one missed shot got the best of Canada’s big gun, Nathan Smith, on Thursday. The Calgarian finished in 31st spot after stopping the clock at 25:44.2.
“I could tell it was going to be a tough ski day on the first lap. My legs were heavy, which is unfortunate, but sometimes that happens,” said Smith.
Early race jitters may have contributed to Smith’s lone mishap on the range while shooting prone.
“My shooting was pretty solid today with nine out of 10. The one shot I missed in prone I had a nervous flinch and it kind of pulled my rifle right before I took the shot,” added Smith.
“It was different than what we are used to out there today being at home. There was a lot of kids out there screaming for us so it was a nice change. I tend to build as the week goes on so I’m looking forward to the weekend.”
Calgary’s Scott Gow also missed one prone shot en route to finishing 34th at 25:47.0. Brendan Green, of Hay River, N.W.T. was the first Canadian to start and finish, clocking a 40th place time of 26:01.0 (0+1). Calgary’s Christian Gow rounded out the Canadian contingent in 61st spot at 26:41.7 (0+1).
The World Cup continues on Friday in Canmore, Alta., with the women’s 7.5-kilometre race. The mass start races are slated for Saturday, while the relays will take place on Sunday.
Top-Five Men and Canadian Results:
1. Martin Fourcade, FRA, (0+0), 23:51.5; 2. Anton Shipulin, RUS (0+0), 24:07.2; 3. Simon Schempp, GER, (0+0), 24:10.2; 4. Julian Eberhard, AUT, (1+1), 24:36.5. 5. Dominik Landertinger, AUT, (0+1), 24:38.6
25. Macx Davies, Canmore, Alta., (0+0), 25:37.2; 31. Nathan Smith, Calgary, (1+0), 25:44.2; 34. Scott Gow, Calgary, (1+0), 25:47.0; 40. Brendan Green, Hay River, N.W.T., (0+1), 26:01.0; 61. Christian Gow, Calgary, (0+1), 26:41.7.