POKLJUKA, Slo—Building on a strong week of racing, the Gow brothers led the charge for the Canadians in a 10th-place finish in a World Cup biathlon relay race in Pokljuka, Slovenia.
A week where both of the Calgary-based brothers posted personal best results, the 23-year-old Christian set the tone for the Canucks, finishing the opening leg in sixth in the 4×7.5 kilometre relay. Looking to rebound after a disappointing pursuit race Saturday, Scott took the torch from his little bro and pulled the Canadians into medal contention thanks to strong shooting and posting the fourth-fastest ski time on his leg.
“I had a somewhat disappointing pursuit race yesterday, and my goal for today was to refocus on the range and push the ski speed as much as possible. I was happy with the overall performance I was able to put forward for my leg of the relay, and I was especially happy with another clean shooting day,” said the 28 year old.
The elder Gow brother handed off to Macx Davies, of Canmore, Alta., before Brendan Green, of Hay River, N.W.T. took the anchor leg for the Canucks, clocking in at 1:13:41.2 for the final spot in the top-10.
“Today was an acceptable result for the team,” added Scott Gow. “Christian and I are very proud of our results so far this season. We worked very hard all year to try and elevate our racing abilities to the next level, and we saw our hard work pay off today with great skiing and perfect shooting for both of us. It’s also a big confidence boost going forward with the season knowing we are capable of competing among the best.”
The relay consists of each athlete skiing 7.5 kilometres (6 kilometres for women) with two bouts of shooting. The first starter of each team begins in a simultaneous mass start with other participants. Once completing their leg, athletes tag off to the next teammate. Competitors in the relay each carry three spare rounds. If all five targets are not knocked down with the first five rounds, the spares may be used, which takes more time because they are loaded by hand. The Canadians used five spares on the day.
The Gows, along with Green and Nathan Smith enjoyed a historic day for Canadian biathlon last year becoming the first team ever for the red and white to medal in a World Championship relay when they won the bronze.
France was the team to beat on Saturday, setting the time to beat at 1:11:56.5 under ideal race conditions. Russia finished nearly 16 seconds off the pace in second at 1:12:12.2, while Germany teamed up fro the bronze medal with a time of 1:12:18.0.
The Canadians finished just outside the top-10 in the women’s 4×6 kilometre relay. Sarah Beaudry, of Prince George, B.C., skied the opening leg before handing off to two-time Olympian, Rosanna Crawford of Canmore, Alta. Led by Crawford’s six fastest leg time, the Canucks slowly pulled themselves back into contention backed by strong performances by Megan Tandy, of Prince George, B.C. and Julia Ransom, of Kelowna, B.C. When all was said and done, the Canadians stopped the clock at 1:15:04.2 for 11th.
The German women took the gold medal with a time of 1:11:31.1. France joined forces to finish second 1:11:41.2, while the Ukraine squad was third at 1:12:08.8.
The world’s best biathletes now travel to Nove Mesto, Czech Republic for the final World Cup stop before the holiday break.