After a week of witting and waiting, the IBU Cup competitions in central Europe finally got started on Tuesday with 15 and 20 k individual competitions in Obertilliach, Austria.
The circuit kicked off late November in Beitostølen, Norway. Races were scheduled to continue in Martell, Italy, but a lack of snow forced them to cancel. For team Canada, that was a bummer. They had flown over specifically for the Martell races, and were forced to hang out and train until added make-up races in Obertilliach started this week.
“It was definitely nice to be racing today!” Canadian biathlete Emma Lunder wrote in an e-mail to FasterSkier. “I think our whole IBU team has been chomping at the bit to get our first races in, and I’m pretty pumped that it was so successful for me today. We’ve had just over a week of training in Obertilliach – I traveled to Europe knowing I’d be here for the whole 2 weeks, so it was nice to go into the tour knowing where we’d be.”
In the 15 k, she led Canada with a tenth-place finish. Teammate Julia Ransom was close behind in 11th. With one and two penalties, respectively, they finished about two minutes behind race winner Tina Bachmann of Germany.
“Shooting was definitely the key to my race today,” Lunder wrote. “It was an individual race, and I haven’t raced 15 k yet this season. The course here is quite challenging. One long downhill, but besides that a lot of climbing, and working every flat section, so I knew it was going to be a tough ski. I hadn’t anticipated it being quite so tough, and I was really feeling my legs after the second lap. With three to go, I just concentrated on every push being technically efficient, but especially honed in on my range focus.”
Lunder explained that the team has been working with Ferreol Cannard, a former French team biathlete, since they’ve been in Europe.
“I think having a fresh perspective can really help athletes, especially when you’ve got a week before the races,” she wrote. “His focus for us has been aimed towards shooting, and not ever throwing a shot away. I’ve really enjoyed working with him, and I hope the Canadian team can in the future.”
Ransom agreed that Cannard was important to her success in her first European race of the season.
“I had a new perspective on some of my weaknesses and had time to nail them down before today,” she wrote in an e-mail. “I was pleased with my shooting and couldn’t wait to get skiing fast. My goal for this week is a top 10 and after today’s performance, I am feeling confident that it’s within reach!”
Another motivator and confidence-booster? Watching their Biathlon Alberta Training Center teammate Sarah Beaudry have her World Cup debut this past weekend in Hochfilzen, Austria. Beaudry used a clean prone stage to help the Canadian women’s relay team to 11th place.
“Emma, Sarah, myself, and our other team mate Erin [Yungblut] train together every day,” Ransom wrote. “I would say that we are a perfect mix of different strengths that all compliment each other and better each other’s weaknesses. I was so proud to watch Sarah race in Hochfilzen… Solid day for her. We have known each other longer than we haven’t so I have seen the whole Beaudry spectrum! To follow up her World Cup debut AND Rosanna’s 5th place with Emma and I placing 10th and 11th was a perfect start to the first tour. The whole Canadian team is only going to build on this momentum and I am betting on a podium this season.”
Also for Canada, Zina Kocher placed 43rd with six penalties, and Audrey Vaillancourt 49th with five penalties.
In the 20 k, Christian Gow led the team in 18th place, 2:46 behind winner Vitaliy Kilchytskyy of Ukraine, with three penalties for Kilchytskyy’s one. His brother Scott Gow finished 52nd, Carsen Campbell 62nd, and Macx Davies 68th.