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.
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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.