Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday: five days. For five days after Biathlon Canada’s team selection time trials in Canmore, Alberta, a few athletes still found themselves waiting to hear whether to not they made the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup racing team for the first trimester of the 2016/2017 season. By late Tuesday afternoon, however, the wait was up.
A men’s and women’s team roster was posted to Biathlon Canada’s homepage revealing that for the second season in a row, Nathan Smith, Brendan Green, Scott Gow, Christian Gow, and Macx Davies were nominated to the men’s squad. All five had been preselected and would now officially take the five available spots on the men’s national team.
With five senior national-team women competing for four World Cup spots, selection for the women’s team would require a little more maneuvering. Both Rosanna Crawford and Julia Ransom had been preselected for the World Cup team, while Sarah Beadry, Emma Lunder, and Megan Tandy had been preselected for the IBU circuit, meaning one woman would not make the World Cup team.
Decisions on who would be nominated, according to Biathlon Canada’s High Performance Director Eric de Nys, depended on performance results from the team time trials, which took place last Wednesday, Nov. 9, and Thursday, Nov. 10.
“The criteria was such that, we looked at the two trial races on the 9th and the 10th to see if we could could create a ranking list based on those performances; that’s essentially how those ladies were chosen,” de Nys said on this past Wednesday, Nov. 16. “So after the ranking came out, it went Rosanna [Crawford], Julia [Ransom] then Megan Tandy in third. Then actually fourth and fifth were two juniors [Nadia Moser and Megan Bankes], and Sarah [Beaudry] was sixth. But the fourth and fifth juniors, they’re not World-Cup eligible, we have to send them to the IBU Cups so that they can become World Cup eligible. And that’s how Sarah came to be the fourth lady.”
Though her first day of racing at the time trial was not what she had hoped for, the 22-year-old Beaudry indicated excitement about the prospect of more racing at the World Cup level.
“The first race wasn’t what I was hoping for but I managed to pull together a better race on day two,” Beaudry, a Biathlon Canada B-squad member, wrote in an email. “I definitely went into trials very nervous which affected my shooting and I am hoping that I got that out of my system before the World Cup starts. I am really excited to head to Europe and improve on my performances from trials.”
Tandy, an “Eh!” Team member, arrived in Germany shortly after the announcement. She explained that for her, being nominated to the national team was no guarantee.
“There was certainly no guarantee of selection for me,” Tandy wrote in an email. “We had 2 pre-qualified women and I needed to prove myself in order to be nominated for one of the remaining 2 World Cup spots. From my own perspective, yes, I expected to be selected. My season goal is to set new personal bests which for me, means placing regularly in the top 25 or better on the World Cup circuit. No easy feat, but if that is what I am aiming for, I had to go into the trials races expecting my best effort to be enough for a World Cup spot.”
De Nys further explained that only the two sprint races on Nov. 9 and 10 were used to select the women’s squad for Trimester 1, though using summer training and other time trials could have been used at the national-team program’s discretion.
“… We did have the authority, I guess, to look at training and other things like that,” de Nys said of the selection process. “… It just came down to the trials and Sarah [Beaudry] happened to go a little quicker on that day than Emma [Lunder], who is the next in line after Sarah.”
Beaudry’s B-squad teammate, Lunder, did not make the World Cup team, but was nominated to race the IBU circuit for Biathlon Canada. With greater World Cup point performances from those named to the Trimester 1 team, however, another spot could be added to Biathlon Canada’s squad, opening up the opportunity for athletes like Lunder make the women’s team again.
“There’s a big push from Biathlon Canada and from the women’s program themselves to increase their quota in that being the number of women we can start in the World Cup,” de Nys said. “As a team, if we can improve our general overall performance, because in the World Cup you score nation’s cup points from your first three women, so if our women are better positioned, we score more points. So at the end of last year we were 11th. If we were 10th, we could have five starts quota.”
Gabby Naranja considers herself a true Mainer, having grown up in the northern most part of the state playing hockey and roofing houses with her five brothers. She graduated from Bates College where she ran cross-country, track, and nordic skied. She spent this past winter in Europe and is currently in Montana enjoying all that the U.S. northwest has to offer.