Despite a post-Olympic emotional rollercoaster, Canadian biathlete Zina Kocher has a bright outlook on the future.
The Olympics for Kocher were both “awesome and terrible.” Her objective was to podium at the 2010 Games, but Kocher fell far short of her goal with a 65th position in the 7.5 k sprint, and 72nd in the 15 k individual.
She praised the facilities, the support she received, and the volunteers at the Games, as well as family and friends for making the Olympics an amazing memory. “I had so much fantastic support from family, friends, all my sponsors and organizations…that made this experience possible for me. I have definitely never felt such a strong amount of joy and pride of Canadians as experienced during these Games,” she said.
The Vancouver Olympics marked the second set of Games that the 27-year old Red Deer, Alberta native has attended. She also raced in 2006 in Torino, with her top finish a 28th in the 15 k individual race, and a 17th place in the team relay.
Kocher, Canada’s strongest female biathlete, left Vancouver feeling disappointed with her performance, which made her life a bit of a roller coaster. “There is so much emotion and stress, and you don’t even realize it until after it’s all over,” she said. “But that’s life.”
Post-Olympics, the team had the Canadian National Championships the following week, after which Kocher flew out to Europe to race in Finland, Norway and Russia for three weeks to finish the World Cup season.
Afterwards, with time to finally rest and relax, Kocher travelled to Paris and Berlin for a break. “[It was a] short vacation, but a lot of fun to catch up with old friends. Then I needed to come home and actually spend quality personal time, instead of Skype time, with my boyfriend!”
Returning to training in May is tough for any athlete, especially when coming off an Olympic year. The 27-year-old felt physically ready to jump back into the grind, but it took awhile for all her Olympic emotions to subside. “You set new goals and focus your energy on a plan to achieve them.”
Training has included lots of roller skiing. In May and June, the team was able to get in some skiing up at Sunshine Meadows near Banff, AB, and next week they head up to the Haig Glacier for “some more altitude and ski action.”
Like many of the Canadian National Ski Team members, Kocher participated in a triathlon this summer, participating in a sprint distance in Canmore, placing fifth overall and first in her age category. She also did an Olympic-distance in Invermere, B.C., coming second in her age category. “Although the Olympic distance felt long and grueling, I loved it and am now definitely addicted!”
According to Kocher, this spring has been pretty low-key for camps. There was a four-day bike/roller ski camp in the Kootenays, B.C. in June, and the team will also make two short trips to the Haig Glacier.
Kocher’s goals for this upcoming year are to make it onto a World Cup podium once again, but her primary focus will be the World Championships in Russia, where she’s hoping for a top-10 finish. Is this a warm-up for the 2014 Games? “Yes, I’m definitely aiming for Sochi. I have some unfinished business!”