Thursday’s SuperTour Finals action welcomed the 30 and 50 k U.S. Distance Nationals, where Canada’s Ivan Babikov won over Colorado’s Rune Malo Ødegård and USST/SSCV’s Noah Hoffman, who claimed the title of national champion. Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) won the 30 k by just under three minutes over USST/Burke’s Liz Stephen.
We caught up with Canadian biathlon staff and athletes to chat about the significance of Nathan Smith’s World Cup in on Saturday, just the second in history for a Canadian man. It’s good for Smith and good for the program – but Own the Podium is unlikely to reward it with money, because the funding body only considers World Championships and Olympic medal performances.
It seemed crazy: the Norwegian Birkebeiner has almost 3,000 feet of total climbing. But double-poling is what Petter Eliassen trains for, so that’s what he did- and he became the first man to win the legendary marathon without kickwax. Therese Johaug picked up a five-minute victory in the women’s race.
Nathan Smith took the lead after the third shooting stage, and never gave it back – despite the best efforts of superstars like Martin Fourcade and Anton Shipulin. “It was kind of surreal,” Smith said of entering the final loop with a 37-second lead and savoring the moments leading up to his first World Cup win. Meanwhile, Martin Fourcade clinched his fourth consecutive World Cup title, a feat that has never before been accomplished in biathlon.
Hannah Dreissigacker rebounded from 75-percent shooting at IBU World Championships to hit 90 percent of her targets on Friday and place 14th for a career best in the final IBU World Cup sprint of the season in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Also for the U.S., Susan Dunklee finished 26th, and Canada’s Rosanna Crawford was close behind in 28th.
Nathan Smith shot 9-for-10 and ended up fifth, 34 seconds behind winner Martin Fourcade, in Thursday’s 10 k sprint in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, the final stop on the IBU World Cup tour. Leif Nordgren led the U.S. in 21st with 90-percent shooting as well, finishing 1:14 back despite feeling under the weather.
When Casey Smith went flying off the race course in Canmore, Alberta, he was knocked unconscious; he later found he had broken many ribs, a shoulder blade, and bones in his back, as well as puncturing a lung. The U.S. biathlete is recovering at home, a process which will be long but which he’s approaching optimistically.
The 2015 U.S. Junior Nationals wrapped up with the 3 x 2.5-kilometer classic relays at Auburn Ski Club in Soda Springs, Calif., where New England and Midwest both tallied two relay wins, and New England won the overall the Alaska Cup. Photo gallery by Mark Nadell and a weeklong recap video by Skyler Mullings.
A trio of Americans finished in the top 20 of the final women’s World Cup race of the season, a 30-kilometer freestyle mass start in Holmenkollen, Norway. Liz Stephen led the U.S. team in ninth, Jessie Diggins took 14th, while Caitlin Gregg capped off an eventful World Cup season with a 19th-place finish.
On the closing day of 2015 IBU World Championships, Ukraine’s Valj Semerenko became an individual world champion in the women’s mass start, beating Germany’s Franziska Preuss by 6.2 seconds with perfect shooting. American Susan Dunklee finished 20th with five penalties and Canada’s Megan Heinicke shot 19-for-20 to place 24th.