Team Canada saved its best for last Sunday, gutting out a sixth-place finish in the mixed relay on a glorious Alberta afternoon to cap off the first Biathlon World Cup in more than two decades at the 1988 Olympic venue in Canmore, Alta.
Veterans Rosanna Crawford (Canmore, Alta.) and Brendan Green (Hay River, NWT), flanked two of the youngest members on the rising Canadian Biathlon squad, Sarah Beaudry (Prince George, B.C.) and Macx Davies (Canmore, Atla), who sent the thousands of Canadian fans lining the picturesque trails at the world-renowned Canmore Nordic Centre to their feet after matching a career-best mixed relay finish when they were sixth with a time of 1:07:13.1.
“I can’t give enough props to my teammates,” said the 29-year-old Green. “They all did a perfect job to set me up for a good last leg like that.”
The eight-year veteran capped off a stellar afternoon with a near flawless performance on the skinny skis and on range where he knocked down all 10 targets.
“I was definitely more nervous today than I normally am with so many family here,” added Green. “The crowd was so enthusiastic, so fortunately I was able to handle it well today.”
The mixed relay consists of each athlete skiing 6 kilometres (women) 7.5 kilometres (men), with two bouts of shooting. The first starter of each team begins in a simultaneous mass start with other participants. Once completing their leg, athletes tag off to the next teammate. Competitors in the relay each carry three spare rounds. If all five targets are not knocked down with the first five rounds, the spares may be used, which takes more time because they are loaded by hand.
Green’s girlfriend and two-time Olympian, Rosanna Crawford, set the tone for the Canadian squad while duking it out in the opening leg with the world’s best on the trails she grew up on. Battling strep throat for most of the week, the 27-year-old had her best performance skiing to sixth while giving way to the young Canucks.
Competing in her first mixed relay this year, Canada’s 21-year-old rookie Sarah Beaudry, grinded the entire six-kilometre women’s leg to hold the Canadian position before handing off to Davies. The hometown boy dropped two spots, but kept the Canucks within striking distance of the top-five.
“It is definitely a different feeling when you are closer to the front in a relay,” said Davies. “You know that if you want a good result you need to set up the last guy to do it and I’m really happy I was able to do that today. I think overall it was an awesome day for all of us.”
Starting his anchor leg in eighth spot, Green charged up and down the rolling terrain before bringing the crowd of nearly 7,000 to its feet with perfect shooting. Green bolted into fourth spot while heading out onto his final lap, but ran out of gas and dropped to sixth place.
“Every time you get a good result is important. Today having two veterans with two of the youngest on the team shows the depth, and a glimpse of our potential,” said Green.
“It was such a great day. I think Canmore put on its best face with a blue bird day. And we are at a point now with our program where we can put any two men and women together and have a good result.”
Germany smashed the field with a time of 1:05:38.8. Italy was second at 1:06:51.7, while Norway won the race for the bronze medal with a time of 1:07:02.6.
– from Biathlon Canada