Biathlon World Championships: Relay Bronze for Canada
by Nick Stapleton
The Canadian men's Relay Team captured a historic brilliant bronze at the Biathlon World Championships in Oslo, Norway from March 4-13, bringing a nation to its feet, while France's Simon Fourcade did much the same, taking home four golds.
France's star anchor Martin Fourcade bested a pack of four teams for a four-second win in the opening race of the Championships. It was Ukraine's team that had a narrow edge of less than a second going into the final leg, but Fourcade missed just once and was able to finish ahead of Germany's Simon Schempp and Norway's Tarjei Boe. In the first leg, Team U.S.A. got a big lift as Susan Dunklee charged to the front with Norway's Marte Olsbu only 1.6 seconds back. France's Anais Bescond was a distant 35 seconds behind after the first leg. But Norway's Tarjei Boe was no match for Fourcade, settling for the silver. Germany, meanwhile, skied consistently with France and ended only 4.3 seconds back of the winners in third. The U.S. squad could not hold onto Dunklee's heroic effort and steadily dropped in the rankings to end in 10th at 2:19.6 behind the leaders. Canada was another 10 seconds behind in 11th.
Men's 10km Sprint
Yellow-bib wearer Fourcade proved he was in shape for the Championships, skiing away with a 26.9-second win over 43-year-old Norwegian legend Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. Third place went to Serhiy Semenov of Ukraine. The topthree racers shot clean, while fourth place went to Johannes Thingnes Boe, who had to ski one penalty loop. U.S.A.'S Tim Burke had one miss and finished 14th, while his teammate Leif Nordgren shot clean, but ended 18th. Brendan Green was the top Canadian in 35th.
Women's 7.5km Sprint
Tiril Eckhoff of Norway shot clean to win the first Individual race by 15 seconds over France's Marie Dorin-habert, who also shot clean. Germany's Laura Dahlmeier, who was recovering from an illness, was third with one miss. U.S.A.'S Dunklee continued her fantastic week and ended eighth despite a miss, while her teammate Hannah Dreissigacker was 18th, shooting clean. Julia Ransom was the top Canadian in 50th.
Men's 12.5km Pursuit
Fourcade made it two Individual golds in a row with his Pursuit win, besting Norwegian legend Bjoerndalen by 20.1 seconds. Norwegian Emil Hegle Svendsen took the bronze another 11.1 seconds back despite starting 1:16 behind. Svendsen missed only once, while Fourcade had three misses and Bjoerndalen had two. Nathan Smith was the top Canadian in 15th with two misses, and Burke was the top American in 17th with three missed shots.
Women's 10km Pursuit
Germany's Dahlmeier shot clean to make up a 20-second handicap and win the women's Pursuit. Dorothea Wierer of Italy was second, 38 seconds behind Dahlmeier, while Dorin-habert, who started the day in second, dropped to third with three misses. Eckhoff, who started the day in first, dropped back to 17th after seven misses. The top American spot went to Dunklee, who missed one shot prone and three shots standing and fell from eighth to 10th in the final. Canada's Rosanna Crawford finished 27th with four misses.
Women's 10km Individual
Frenchwoman Dorin-habert led her teammate Bescond to the top spots of the podium. Both had one miss in the final standing round, but their overall efforts saw them finish more than a minute ahead of Germany's Dahlmeier, who had two penalties. The top-three women also had the fastest cross-country times. Crawford finished 14th as top North American while Dunklee placed 18th.
Men's 20km Individual
Fourcade kept his streak going, eking out a narrow 5.1-second victory over two Austrians, Dominik Landertinger and Simon Eder, who both shot clean. Fourcade had the fastest cross-country time by 30 seconds and grabbed his fourth gold of the Championships. American veteran Lowell Bailey finished in 15th, Canadian Scott Gow was 18th and American Nordgren snuck into the top-30 in 27th.
4x6km Women's Relay
Norway's team of Eckhoff, Olsbu, Synnoeve Solemdal and Fanny Horn Birkeland won the women's relay ahead of France and Germany. Norway finished 5.1 seconds ahead of France, who finished the first leg more than a minute behind the leaders, but came within eight seconds by the second leg. Coming into the final leg, Olsbu had a 28-second lead over Dorin-habert of France, but the Norwegian was able to hold off the world champion, who skied the fastest final leg of the day despite two missed shots. The American team finished the
day in 13th, while Canada faded to 15th after a fantastic second leg by Crawford, who tagged off to the third leg with the race lead.
4x7.5km Men's Relay
Team Canada's Gow brothers, Smith and Green, stole the show with a brilliant bronze as Norway handily beat Germany, winning by 14 seconds. On the first leg, Christian Gow handed off to Smith with just a 14.7-second gap to the race leader, Erik Lesser of Germany, while the U.S.A.'S Bailey was strong in second. Smith had a spectacular leg and moved Canada up to third, just 1.2 seconds behind the leaders. Smith's time was only beat by Simon Eder of Austria. Scott Gow held his own on the third leg earning the fifth-fastest time to maintain Canada's third-place position despite three missed shots in the standing position. Anchor Green delivered on the final leg shooting clean to finish a spectacular historic third just 23 seconds behind the first-place Norwegians, who captured the gold. “We have trained together for years in Canmore, every day, year after year, twice a day,” Smith said after the race. “We are a real team, so that makes it so much sweeter.” France finished a disappointing ninth with 10 misses.
Women's 12.5km Mass Start
Dorin-habert fed another defeat to the Norwegian home crowd, shooting clean to best German Dahlmeier and Kaisa Makarainen of Finland, who both had one miss. With the win, Dorin-habert achieved six medals in the Championships, three of which were golds. American Dunklee finished her solid Championships in 11th place despite three misses, and her teammate Dreissigacker was the only other North American to qualify for the top-30, ending her biathlon career in 27th.
Men's 15km Mass Start
Twenty-two-old Norwegian Johannes Thingnes Boe was finally able to break Fourcade's streak, taking a home a solid victory in the men's 15km Mass Start to the delight of the partisan crowd on the final day in Oslo. Both had one miss in the final round, but the Norwegian was able to outski the Frenchman in the last kilometre, finishing 2.8 seconds ahead. “My body was just empty today, and when I saw Johannes come up behind, I felt that my chances were not so good,” Fourcade said after the race. Bjoerndalen completed his Championships with another medal, this time bronze. Bailey of the U.S.A. skied into 10th with near-perfect shooting, his teammate Burke was 12th, while Nordgren did not finish. No Canadians qualified for the final start.