IBU World Cup (Ruhpolding, Germany): Women’s 15 k individual
It’s been a long time coming, but on Thursday, Rosanna Crawford, 29, achieved her first podium on the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup circuit.
It came in Ruhpolding, Germany, in the longest-format race for the World Cup women: the 15-kilometer individual. In the four-stage race, which adds a minute penalty to a competitor’s time for each missed shot, Crawford of Canmore, Alberta, shot a perfect 20-for-20. She said she had never done that before in a World Cup race.
“I really like the Ruhpolding range,” Crawford said in a post-race phone interview, after finishing third behind Italy’s Dorothea Wierer and Finland’s Kaisa Mäkäräinen, respectively. “This was my first World Juniors, my first World Cup and now my first podium, so it’s a pretty special place for me.”
Wierer won the race with 20-for-20 shooting as well, starting 24th and finishing with the fastest time of 41:29.0 minutes. Mäkäräinen as the 12th starter missed out on first place due to a single miss in the first prone (1+0+0+0) and ended up 12.7 seconds back in second place.
Crawford, one of the last starters in bib 97, turned heads throughout the race with each passing clean bout. With one extra breath before her last shot, she successfully hit her last target and left the range with a huge smile.
“I think I almost started crying,” she recalled.
She finished 21.7 seconds out of first, and almost 25 seconds clear of fourth-place finisher Yulia Dzhima of Ukraine. Even a Ukrainian coach was cheering for Crawford on her last loop.
“That last lap was so cool,” Crawford said. “Right past the penalty loop, the Ukrainian coach was like, ‘You’re one second, — or whatever time I was — from first,’ and it was amazing. I think this really describes what the biathlon family actually is. It’s not the IBU. It’s the coaches and the athletes and the wax techs and the fans.”
Her teammates and coach, Roddy Ward, awaited her arrival in the finish pen.
“Canada’s not on the podium every day so they let them sneak by to give me a hug so that was really special,” Crawford said.
Her result is her first non-relay top 10 since a pursuit in December 2014, where she placed seventh in Pokljuka, Slovenia. The race before that, she placed fourth in the Pokljuka 7.5 k sprint, which was had been career best — until Thursday.
“Who knew that I would get my first podium in an individual?” Crawford mused. “I was laughing at that myself.”
The U.S. was led by Susan Dunklee in 27th (+3:02.7), who had one penalty in each of the first three stages (1+1+1+0).
Canada’s Julia Ransom placed 34th (+3:35.0) with two penalties (1+1+0+0), Sarah Beaudry was 53rd (+4:18.6) with two misses as well (0+1+1+0), and Emma Lunder finished 67th (+5:21.7) with four penalties (1+0+2+1).
Two Americans raced, with Clare Egan finishing 57th (+4:26.3) with three penalties (0+1+0+2).
“Certainly the highlight for me today was watching Rosanna crush it,” Dunklee wrote in an email. “Her whole team, athletes and staff, were overjoyed. It’s inspiring to see and lends positive energy to all the North Americans going forward.”
She also pointed out that her U.S. teammates Emily Dreissigacker and Maddie Phaneuf placed fifth and 11th, respectively, with clean shooting in the IBU Cup women’s 15 k individual, also on Thursday.
“That spark is exactly what our team needs right now and the timing is spot on,” Dunklee continued. “We will field our first women’s relay this weekend. It has been a challenging season so far living and traveling with such a small crew, trying to stay upbeat and carry the team with a skeleton group.”
The World Cup men’s 4 x 7.5 k relay is scheduled for Friday at 8:30 a.m. EST, with both Canada and the U.S. entering teams. (Men’s relay start list)
The women’s 4 x 6 k relay is on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. EST, with the men’s and women’s mass starts following on Sunday in Ruhpolding.