December 16, 2011 (Obertilliach, Austria) – Two young Calgary biathletes shocked the world by finishing third and fourth in a men’s 10-kilometre sprint competition at the IBU Biathlon Cup in Obertilliach, Austria on Friday.
Nathan Smith put his name in the history books as one of a handful of Canadian biathletes to win a medal in international racing after capturing the bronze with a time of 24 minutes, 18.1 seconds, while senior team rookie, Scott Gow, narrowly missed the podium placing fourth at 24:31.4 against a deep field of nearly 100 athletes – many of whom compete regularly on the World Cup circuit.
“It feels great. Only a few other Canadians have had top-four results on the IBU Cup so two in one day is exceptional,” said Smith, who turns 26 on Christmas Day and becomes the sixth Canadian biathlete to medal on the IBU Cup over the last decade. The Canadian squad also finished fourth in Wednesday’s mixed relay.
“During the training season I made some strong improvements in both skiing and shooting and I was hoping to carry those over to the competition season. This result is affirmation the work is paying off in actual results.”
Both Smith and Gow shot clean with light winds blowing through the range, and took advantage of good skis on the hard-packed, fast Austrian course.
“Our coaching and waxing team have been doing an awesome job. I’m fairly certain our skis in Obertilliach have been the best of all the teams thus far,” added Smith. “So far this winter four men have put down top results on both the IBU and World Cup. This shows that our team is building depth. I also hope younger biathletes in Canada will see our results and strive to match and exceed them.”
Russia’s Evgeniy Garanichev won the gold medal with a time of 24:09.7 despite missing one shot in his first round of shooting. Germany’s Daniel Bohm snagged the silver with a time of 24:11.4.
Despite finishing just shy of the podium, it was a stellar day for the 21-year-old Scott Gow who made the climb to the senior ranks this year where he has split time on the World Cup and IBU Cup Circuit – a feeder series to the World Cup.
“The race today felt amazing. It was one of those rare days where great skiing with perfect shooting came together, and I’m more than ecstatic it happened today on the IBU Cup,” said Gow, who was clean in his two rounds of shooting. “The skis were the difference today. I have felt great the last two weeks on the boards and they were really good today which gave us an edge on our competitors.”
Equally brilliant off the snow, the sharp-shooting biathlete was an honours student at the National Sport School where he was one of a small group of students selected from around the world to attend United States Space School four years ago at NASA in Houston. An incredible experience for the young Canuck, Gow’s mission has since been focused on achieving his Olympic dream. He enjoyed a memorable campaign in 2011 where he carried the Alberta flag into the closing ceremonies of the Canada Winter Games after winning four gold medals in as many competitions, one week following a ninth-place finish at the Junior World Championships.
“This result is important for me because I feel like it validates my training over the past year, and gives me the confidence going forward to know that I am competitive on the IBU Cup,” said Gow. “Doing as well as I did today against the competition I had is a real boost of confidence because they guys we’re finishing with have good results on the World Cup and are considered World Cup caliber athletes, so it’s another major boost for sure.”
Two other Canadian men suited up on Friday. Calgary’s Tyson Smith shot clean to finish tied for 50th at 26:23.5. Aaron Gillmor was 96th (28:05.9).
Quebec’s Claude Godbout finished as the top Canadian in the women’s 7.5-kilometre sprint, placing 32nd at 24:32.2. Yolaine Oddou, of Val Belair, Que., was 34th (24:44.8), while Melanie Schultz, of Camrose, Alta., finished 53rd (25:43.1).
Russia’s Ekaterina Glazyrina shot clean to win the women’s competition with a time of 22:30.8.
Meanwhile, the top women’s biathletes in the country also had a solid outing on the World Cup circuit down the road in Hochfilzen, Austria.
Megan Imrie, of Falcon Lake, Man., skied to the final spot in the top-25 for the best result of her career. The 25-year-oldImrie, who represented Canada at the 2010 Olympics, missed two shots in her first of two bouts of shooting to clock a time of 22:18.1 in the women’s 7.5-kilometre sprint competition.
Zina Kocher, of Red Deer, Alta., will join Imrie in the pursuit competition with the top-60 athletes after placing 50th with a time of 23:08.0. Rosanna Crawford, of Canmore, Alta., rounded out the Canadian performances in 73rd (24:05.7).
Russia’s Olga Zaitseva won the women’s sprint with a time of 20:36.6. Darya Domracheva, of Belarus, settled for the silver medal at 20:%0.5, while Sweden’s Helena Ekholm locked up the bronze after clocking-in at 21:06.8.
The IBU Cup and World Cup events continue on Saturday in Austria with the pursuit competitions.
FOR COMPLETE RESULTS: www.biathlonworld.com
1. Evgeniy Garanichev, RUS, (1+0), 24:09.7
2. Daniel Bohm, GER, (0+0), 24:11.4
3. Nathan Smith, Calgary, CAN, (0+0), 24:18.1
4. Scott Gow, Calgary, CAN, (0+0), 24:31.4
5. Johannes Kuhn, GER, (0+1), 24:36.1
1. Ekaterina Glazyrina, RUS, (0+0), 22:30.8
2. Juliya Dzyhma, UKR, (0+0), 22:40.4
3. Sabrina Buchholz, GER, (1+0), 22:44.8
4. Ekaterina Shumilova, RUS, (0+2), 22:53.8
5. Roberta Fiandino, ITA, (0+0), 23:03.2.
32. Claude Godbout, Quebec, (0+1), 24:32.2
34. Yolaine Oddou, Val Belair, Que., (2+0), 24:44.8
53. Melanie Schultz, Camrose, Alta., (2+2), 25:43.1
World Cup Women
1. Olga Zaitseva, RUS, (0+1), 20:36.6
2. Darya Domracheva, BLR, (1+1), 20:50.5
3. Helena Ekholm, SWE, (1+0), 21:06.8
4. Magdalena Neuner, GER, (1+1), 21:21.5
5. Vita Semerenko, UKR, (0+1), 21:32.2.
25. Megan Imrie, Falcon Lake, Man., (2+0), 22:18.1
50. Zina Kocher, Red Deer, Alta., (1+3), 23:08.0
73. Rosanna Crawford, Canmore, Alta., (3+0), 24:05.7