HomeTag Khanty-Mansiysk

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A national-team member for the better part of the last nine years, Nathan Smith knows the life of a full-time biathlete isn't always glamorous, but it beats the alternative. “There’s tough training days ... or you’re having bad races and you’re like, ugh, why do I do this?” he said. “But if you have a normal 9-5 job, you’d have a lot more of those days I think.”

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We caught up with Canadian biathlon staff and athletes to chat about the significance of Nathan Smith's World Cup in on Saturday, just the second in history for a Canadian man. It's good for Smith and good for the program - but Own the Podium is unlikely to reward it with money, because the funding body only considers World Championships and Olympic medal performances.

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Nathan Smith took the lead after the third shooting stage, and never gave it back - despite the best efforts of superstars like Martin Fourcade and Anton Shipulin. "It was kind of surreal," Smith said of entering the final loop with a 37-second lead and savoring the moments leading up to his first World Cup win. Meanwhile, Martin Fourcade clinched his fourth consecutive World Cup title, a feat that has never before been accomplished in biathlon.

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Hannah Dreissigacker rebounded from 75-percent shooting at IBU World Championships to hit 90 percent of her targets on Friday and place 14th for a career best in the final IBU World Cup sprint of the season in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Also for the U.S., Susan Dunklee finished 26th, and Canada's Rosanna Crawford was close behind in 28th.

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After blunders in Saturday's pursuit, Martin Fourcade of France was back to his winning ways in the mass start, and has become the first man since Raphael Poiree to sweep all of the crystal globes. American Tim Burke was in the pack fighting for second, but despite pushing Emil Hegle Svendsen to his absolute limit had to settle for fourth by just 0.3 seconds.

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Christoph Sumann was having a bad run of things. Just two weeks ago, you could find the 37-year-old former Olympic medalist dabbling in ski races - classic ski races - at home in Austria. But in today's pursuit in Russia, the biathlete was back at the top of his game, shooting a perfect 20-for-20 while Martin Fourcade seemed a shell of his former self, accumulating five penalties.

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As Gabriela Soukalova took her lead from the sprint and turned it into another victory in the 10 k pursuit, U.S. biathletes Annelies Cook and Susan Dunklee ended their World Cup seasons on a bitter note: after too many penalties, neither was able to qualify for the mass start. Dunklee added insult to injury by cross-firing on the wrong targets and receiving a time penalty. Still, though, she said it was a fun week.

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Coming off the high of a top-five in Sochi, Russia, last weekend, U.S. Biathlon’s Tim Burke continued the momentum on Friday in Khanty-Mansiysk with a ninth-place finish in the 10 k sprint, the third-to-last race of the World Cup season. Lowell Bailey also had a strong finish in 11th place, two seconds behind Burke with perfect shooting.

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Coming into today’s 15 k mass start in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, Martin Fourcade of France seemed to be unstoppable. At  World Championships in Ruhpolding Germany a week ago, Fourcade had won the final race, a mass start, by overpowering a better-shooting Bjorn Ferry of Sweden. Then in the sprint here in Khanty-Mansiysk he eked out a 5-second victory, which he parlayed into a more sizable win in the pursuit. Those wins clinched the overall World Cup...