PYEONGCHANG, Kor.—Rosanna Crawford delivered the best result of the season at a key World Cup biathlon stop on the 2018 Olympic course. The strong outing comes one week after the two-time Olympian took a week off to put the fun back in sport following a disappointing World Championships.
Struggling all season to compete at the level expected of her, the 28 year old from Canmore, Alta., finished 19th in the women’s 10-kilometre pursuit race in PyeongChang, Korea where she posted a time of 30:47.1.
“While the skiing is still not where I thought it would be, these past two races I have felt the best I have all season,” said Crawford who started in 30th place based on Thursday’s sprint results.
Starting time behind the sprint leaders, the two-time Olympian was on a mission Saturday picking off 11 spots in the standings despite one miss in each of her first two trips to the shooting range.
“Today was a really fun race,” said Crawford. “Ours skis were rockets and the two kilometre course suited me well. There was a long climb where I would lose some time, but then some good flat and rolling sections where I could catch back up to the girls. I am really happy to finish inside the top-20. It’s nice to end on a high note and have this to carry my motivation into next year, because after World Championships things were looking not very promising!”
There certainly were not.
So much so that the leader of the women’s biathlon squad was ready to pack it in for the year and head home. But a long chat with her coach, followed by a short trip to Geneva for a day, and then to France with her boyfriend and national team member, Brendan Green, was enough to spark the wily veteran.
“There was great skiing where we were, we ate a lot of cheese and took part in a night race called “Nocturne de sleep” where you ski 200 metres and then trade off giant underwear (over your race suit) to your teammate in the team sprint style race,” said Crawford. “I was feeling really drained and frustrated by end of World Champs, but I understood the importance of coming to see the Olympic venue and to race the relay. A bit of time away where I got to enjoy skiing and seeing a new part of the world really helped bring my mood around. Today really was the most fun I have had all season racing.”
Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier shot clean to win the gold medal with a time of 27:58.0. Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen hung on for the silver medal despite missing two shots in her third bout, posting a time of 29:10.6. Anais Bescond of France, whose only blemish in shooting came in her third round where she missed one, posted a third-place time of 29:16.9.
Megan Tandy, of Prince George, B.C., finished 30th at 31:24.2 (1+0+1+0). Julian Ransom, of Kelowna, B.C., was 44th at 32:16.4 (1+0+1+2), while Emma Lunder, of Canmore, Alta., was 49th with a time of 32:47.6 (1+1+0+0).
Meanwhile, Calgary’s Christian Gow rocketed 24 spots up the standings into 32nd after shooting clean to lead the Canadians in the men’s 12.5-kilometre pursuit race. Gow posted a time of 34:41.6.
His brother Scott, who was 27th in Friday’s sprint race, struggled in shooting which dropped him to 43rd place with a time of 35:30.1 (0+1+1+3). Brendan Green, who also has struggled to find his elite form made it into the top-30 in the sprint where he was 28th to qualify for the pursuit with a group of 60 athletes. The Hay River, N.W.T. resident struggled to a 44th place finish on Saturday with a time of 35:34.0.
“The pursuit race for me today was tough and I just didn’t have the shape. This is a really tough and unrelenting course if the body is having a bad day,” said Green, who was battling a cold coming into the Olympic Test Event. “I raced here at the World Championships in 2009. It was my first season on the World Cup and I remember feeling really overwhelmed with the course and conditions back then. The track was terrifying and I remember a lot of wind. So far the weather and ski conditions have been similar to 2009, but they’ve made some really good changes to the tracks since then in making the course overall less aggressive and safer.
“I am no doubt frustrated and disappointed after putting in so much hard work this year, but I am still motivated. There have been some really tough days this season, but I know I can challenge for the podium when I am in my best form, and that’s what I will continue to chase next season.”
Martin Fourcade, of France, was perfect in shooting en route to winning the men’s race with a time of 31:24.2. Russia’s Anton Shipulin was also clean shooting and finished second at 31:58.7. Austria’s Julian Eberhard won the bronze medal with a time of 32:00.9 (0+2+0+1).
The World Cup stop in PyeongChang continues on Sunday with the men’s and women’s relay events.