Zina Kocher Re­tires

SkiTrax - - Out In Front - By John Sy­mon

Zina Kocher, a three-time Olympian, an­nounced her re­tire­ment fol­low­ing the end of the biathlon sea­son. The vet­eran ath­lete, now 33, was a Na­tional Team mem­ber for 15 years, earn­ing bronze in the 15km In­di­vid­ual race in Novem­ber 2006 at the IBU World Cup in Oster­sund, Swe­den. She also helped guide the women's re­lay squad (with Rosanna Craw­ford, Me­gan Im­rie and Me­gan Heinicke) to a stun­ning fourth-place re­sult in An­necy-le Grand Bor­nand, France in 2013.

Kocher was also part of a group of five biath­letes (along with Craw­ford, Im­rie, San­dra Keith and Me­gan Tandy) who posed “taste­fully” nude for the Bold Beau­ti­ful Biathlon cal­en­dar in 2009. The same group also rollerbladed wear­ing only shorts, race bibs and ri­fles through down­town Cal­gary, Alta. to raise aware­ness. This was also to pro­vide fundrais­ing for the biathlon team and a role model of beau­ti­ful, mus­cu­lar fe­male bod­ies.

Biath­letes need to do well in two sports: Kocher skied very well dur­ing her Olympic ap­pear­ances, but her shoot­ing fell short. Her fourth in the Pur­suit in Pokjluka, Slove­nia in late 2009 was no­table in her words be­cause “I went from 10th to fourth and was close to the podium, shoot­ing 20/20 for my first time in a World Cup.”

Kocher closed out her ca­reer in her home­town of Can­more, Alta. at the IBU World Cup in 2016. She scored sil­ver there at the 2015 IBU Cup.

Look­ing back over 15 years, Kocher sees an evo­lu­tion in Biathlon Canada. “It has changed in terms of funds, which al­though have been up and down over the years, there's still im­prove­ment from when I first made the team. More de­vel­op­ment in sourc­ing out what's nec­es­sary to suc­ceed, i.e., work­ing with an IST – group of pro­fes­sion­als – coaches, phys­i­ol­o­gist, strength coach, phys­io­ther­a­pist, psy­chol­o­gist. [And] ath­letes stay­ing in the sport longer, putting in the time to get to the top.”

Sk­itrax also asked how im­por­tant was this past sea­son's IBU World Cup in Can­more for the fu­ture of biathlon in Canada? “I think it's an awe­some step for­ward. Now there's talk of mak­ing a bid for host­ing a fu­ture World Cham­pi­onships.

“I'm happy and sat­is­fied with my ca­reer over­all. I had a lot of great times both com­pet­ing and with the team through­out the years. Of course, there are some goals I left un­done; things I wish I had done dif­fer­ently or what­ever, but I was able to leave the sport when I wanted to and at a time when I was ready to.”

Her short-term plans in late May in­volved a va­ca­tion: back­pack­ing, camp­ing, climb­ing and sight­see­ing in Turkey and Greece. “I also took my doula course (some­one who pro­vides non-clin­i­cal sup­port and care to fam­i­lies dur­ing child­birth and the post­par­tum pe­riod) last sum­mer, so am hop­ing to start up be­ing a doula for some Bow Val­ley moms this sum­mer. In the longer term, I hope to get ad­mit­ted into Mid­wifery at Mount Royal next year. And one day in the fu­ture, I plan to start a fam­ily too!”

Sk­itrax joins the ski com­mu­nity both at home and abroad in wish­ing Kocher the very best in her fu­ture en­deav­ours.

Team Canada (l-r): Rosanna Craw­ford, Me­gan Im­rie, Me­gan Heinicke and Zina Kocher cel­e­brates their best-ever re­lay re­sult

Zina Kocher claims IBU World Cup bronze in 2006.

(from top) Kocher (l) closed out her ca­reer with a sil­ver medal at the 2015 IBU Cup at home in Can­more, Alta.

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