If you look at Brendan Green’s competition record, it has a big gap in it. The last World Cup the 2010 Olympian competed in was Oslo, 2012 – after which he slipped a disc in his back and had to take about a year to recover, with multiple surgeries.
But this fall, Green in back in action, first easing on to the second-tier IBU Cup circuit. He started off strong in Idre, Sweden, shooting clean to place ninth in the first (and most competitive) race in Idre, Sweden. Most years, this would have earned him a promotion directly onto the World Cup – which is where Green needs to be if he wants to complete his qualification criteria for the Sochi Olympics.
This year, though, everyone in Canada has upped their game for the Olympics, and teammate Nathan Smith placed second in that race; Marc-Andre Bedard also tied for ninth. It was a banner day for Biathlon Canada. Green stayed on the IBU Cup.
But he’s not discouraged, and he came back strong today in Beitostolen, Norway, by placing second in the 20 k individual race to Benedikt Doll of Germany. Green limited himself to just one penalty, which is important in this format where each missed shot is penalized by a minute of added time.
“The wind here has been super extreme all week leading up to today, to the point where the range was closed on Wednesday for our training because it was too windy,” Green wrote in an e-mail to FasterSkier. “We tried to shoot yesterday but gave up after a couple of clips because it was impossible to hit anything, and more or less a waist of time. Fortunately today the wind had died down so shooting conditions were perfect.”
Doll, though, was in a class of his own, winning by almost a minute and a half despite also accruing one penalty.
While Green was hugely helped by a strong finish – he cleaned the all-important final standing stage and had some of the fastest loop times on the third and fourth loops – he didn’t know it at the time.
“I was an early starter being bib #9, so I didn’t have too much information to go off of,” Green said. “It was a pretty lonely race for me so I just tried to focus on consistent skiing and putting together a good shooting race. When I just had 1 miss after three bouts I knew the potential was there for a good result. My last standing shooting went perfect and from there I just tried to maintain a solid pace to the finish and crossed my fingers that my time would hold up!”
Aside from Green’s excellent result, Canada had already been having a good weekend. Up on the World Cup, JP Le Guellec placed fourth in the individual, narrowly missing the podium, and Smith a career-best 16th. According to Green, the momentu the team was feeling after that first weekend of IBU Cup racing, where five athletes were in the top ten, did not dissipate when the team split up between the IBU and World Cup circuits.
“I think as a team we’re feeling pretty confident and it was great to watch JP throw down an awesome result on the World Cup yesterday,” he wrote.
The podium on the IBU Cup doesn’t help Green directly with his Olympic qualification criteria, but it does stoke the fire for his inclusion.
“In terms of Olympic qualification, I’m unable to meet any criteria with my IBU Cup results, but they definitely help build confidence,” Green wrote. “Ultimately I would like to be racing on the World Cup, but I’m doing my best to make the most of the racing opportunities I’m given. When I think back to where I was with my injury at this point last year I wasn’t able to ski yet. I’ve come a long long ways since then, so I have to be pretty happy about that and am grateful to be back in the game!”
Also competing for Canada, Scott Gow placed 20th with two penalties, his younger brother Christian 31st, Macx Davies 62nd, and Bedard 69th. The sole American competitor, Jay Hakkinen, placed 50th with four penalties.
In the women’s 15 k, Lanny Barnes of the United States placed 18th with two penalties, 3:48 behind Olga Podchufarova of Russia. For Canada, Audrey Vaillancourt placed 34th, Claude Godbout 42nd, and Julia Ransom 62nd.
Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.