KHANTY-MANSIYSK, Rus.—The two leaders of Canada’s biathlon squad saved their season-best results for the final World Cup weekend of the year in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia on Friday.
Jean-Philippe Le Guellec, of Shannon, Que., stormed into eighth spot in the men’s sprint competition, while Zina Kocher, of Red Deer, Alta., also cracked the top-10, placing ninth in the women’s sprint event.
The 26-year-old Le Guellec missed just one shot in his first of two rounds of shooting en route to chalking up a near career-best result with a time of 27:15.6 in the men’s 10-kilometre sprint competition.
“I’m definitely happy. The entire race went well today,” said Le Guellec, who added the hard tracks and dry snow in Siberia resembled Quebec ski conditions in January. “My ski shape was good, and I felt I was able to work hard throughout the whole race. I was a little bummed about missing one in prone, but my shooting was pretty solid because it was a gamble in the wind today.”
The two-time Olympian, who had one of the most successful Olympics for a Canadian male biathlete in 2010 with four top-15 finishes including a sixth-place result in the sprint event, has flirted with his first World Cup podium finish over the last three years while posting a handful of top-10’s on the elite biathlon circuit. The seven-year veteran of Canada’s national squad had his best finish on the World Cup in 2009 when he was seventh in the pursuit competition.
“It is great to have a solid sprint race to end the season,” said Le Guellec, who also finished eighth in a pursuit start earlier this year in Hochfilzen, Austria. “I’m really looking forward to enjoying the pursuit tomorrow and hopefully I will qualify for the mass start.”
Martin Fourcade, of France, shot clean to win the men’s sprint on Friday with a time of 26:40.2. Germany’s Arnd Peiffer missed one shot in his second set of shots while clocking a silver-medal winning time of 26:45.5. Sweden’s Fredrik Lindstrom had a perfect day of shooting to claim the bronze medal at 26:46.9.
Meanwhile, Canada’s 29-year-old Zina Kocher had her best sprint result in six years years after finishing ninth in the women’s 7.5-kilometre sprint. The two-time Olympian, and only Canadian to win a World Cup medal in the last two decades when she was third in 2006, clocked a time of 23:13.9 (0+2).
“I just felt so awesome skiing today. I had so much to give and was able to really fight hard on the steep climbs here,” said Kocher, who also had a ninth in a pursuit competition earlier this year in Kontiolahti, Finland. “I was relaxed but ready to go for the last sprint of the year. My prone (shooting) was methodical and each shot was perfect. Besides my two misses in standing, I was on fir and able to fight for the top.”
Germany’s Magdalena Neuner missed one shot in each of her two bouts of shooting to clock a winning time of 22:11.5. Vita Semerenko, of the Ukraine, was clean in shooting to claim the silver medal at 22:14.7, while Darya Domracheva, of Belarus, grabbed the final spot on the women’s podium with a time of 22:27.7 (0+1).
Regina’s Scott Perras was the only other Canadian in the men’s event, placing 41st at 28:29.1 (1+2). Megan Imrie, of Falcon Lake, Man, placed 55th in the women’s competition with a time of 26:32.0 (1+3).
The final World Cup of the season continues on Saturday with the pursuit competitions.
Biathlon Canada is the governing body for biathlon in the country and oversees the Canadian Championships, Eastern and Western Canadian Championships, and North American Cups held in Canada. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Millennium Geomatics Ltd., Apogée Sports, Kama, Auclair Gloves, Lapua, USANA, and Adidas Eyewear – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee and Own the Podium, Biathlon Canada’s mandate is to provide national level programs for the continuous development of biathlon athletes from the grassroots to the elite level. For more information on Biathlon Canada, please visit us at www.biathloncanada.ca on the Internet.
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Top-Five Men and Canadian Results:
1. Martin Fourcade, FRA (0+0), 26:40.2; 2. Arnd Peiffer, GER, (0+1), 26:45.5; 3. Fredrik Lindstrom, SWE (0+0), 26:46.9; 4. Tim Burke, USA (1+0), 27:03.6; 5. Emil Hegle Svendsen, NOR (0+1), 27:04.5.
8. Jean-Philippe Le Guellec, Shannon, Que., (1+0), 27:15.6; 41. Scott Perras, Regina, (1+2), 28:29.1.
Top-Five Women and Canadian Results:
1. Magdalena Neuner, GER, (1+1), 22:11.5; 2. Vita Semerenko, UKR, (0+0), 22:14.7; 3. Darya Domracheva, BLR (0+1), 22:27.7; 4. Kaisa Makarainen, FIN (0+2), 22:29.0; 5. 22:29.0; 5. Helena Ekholm, SWE (0+0), 22:31.9.
9. Zina Kocher, Red Deer, Alta., (0+2), 22:13.9; 55. Megan Imrie, Falcon Lake, Man., (1+3), 26:32.0.