Zina Kocher Retires
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.