It would be easy to relax now that the Olympics are over – but the U.S. men’s biathlon team is doing anything but. Lowell Bailey placed 10th and Tim Burke 13th in today’s pursuit, while Leif Nordgren scored his first World Cup points of the season. “They still give the same amount of World Cup points for a win, and the prize money is still the same,” Burke laughed.
When Zina Kocher passed teammate Rosanna Crawford late in the game in today’s World Cup pursuit, it spurred both Canadians to rev up their engines and go for season-best results. Meanwhile, Susan Dunklee of the U.S. put Thursday’s rifle disaster behind her and rode the fourth-fastest ski time of the day to 20th place, and Sara Studebaker scored World Cup points again.
Sara Studebaker and Susan Dunklee qualified for Saturday’s World Cup pursuit in Pokljuka, Slovenia – Studebaker because of her good shooting, and Dunklee despite losing a part of her rifle sight on trail. “I had very little chance of lining it up correctly to hit anything,” Dunklee lamented after an incident that drew attention from international commentators.
Bjorn Ferry had a disappointing Olympics – he couldn’t come even close to repeating his 2010 gold medal in the pursuit – but came back to win the first World Cup since Sochi. For the United States, Lowell Bailey placed 12th and Tim Burke 16th, while Brendan Green led Canada in 21st. “I’m psyched to start of the last trimester with a top 15,” Bailey said.
Christian Gow placed sixth in the men’s individual and Sarah Beaudry and Julia Ransom sixth and seventh in the women’s race at World Youth and Junior Championships on Wednesday. “We have 4 provinces represented in the top 6 results [this week] with British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec… it’s an exciting future,” coach Roddy Ward said.
It was shaping up to be another battle between the newest star of the Gross family, biathlon royalty from Germany, and upstart Sean Doherty from the United States. But a Russian swept in to take gold in the youth men’s individual race. Nevertheless, two Canadians also made the flower ceremony and two American women were top ten in their own individual competition.
It’s not every day that you find yourself sprinting for all you’re worth down the finishing stretch of the Olympics against Martin Fourcade. But that’s just what happened to Canada’s Nathan Smith, who not only dueled with Fourcade to the end, but beat him. “I thought I had good chances,” Smith said. “I’m usually pretty good at sprint finishes.”
Seraina Boner, the best female marathon skier in the world, was focusing on the Vasaloppet. But then she realized she could go to the Olympics. This week she found herself holding her own in the team sprint, and then notched 9th place in the 30k skate, the best Olympic result for a Swiss woman in nearly two decades. “I can always do the Vasaloppet next year,” she said.
Coming into the last prone stage of Friday’s Olympic relay, the Canadian women were in second place – an unprecedented position. But five spare rounds and two penalty loops from Zina Kocher knocked them back into 8th. Even though It was still their best Olympic relay result ever, disappointment showed: “This is a relay we could have medaled in, flat out,” said High Performance Director Chris Lindsay.
The Ukrainian women’s biathlon team was careful not to learn too much about what is happening in Kiev, so that they could focus on their relay race and deliver something that might cheer the country up: a gold medal, Ukraine’s first in a winter Olympics since 1992. The women called for a moment of silence in their press conference to honor the 77 dead in Kiev uprisings.
Far from just a tourist relying on the strength of his team, 40-year-old Ole Einar Bjørndalen was integral in Norway’s gold medal in the biathlon mixed relay, shooting perfectly and skiing the fastest time by a mile on his leg of the relay. He now has eight Olympic gold medals and 13 total medals, the most in history. “It’s cool,” the legend shrugged.
10ieme de sa Dernière Course Individuelle JO, Le Guellec Se Prépare Pour Son Retour et Championnats Canadiens
In a French & English article, we talk to Canada’s Jean Philippe Le Guellec about the final individual race of his international career: today’s Olympic mass start, where he finished 10th. After the Games are over, Le Guellec will head back home to race Canadian Championships and bring his career full circle.