CALGARY – A determined group of eight Canadian biathletes will head to Sochi poised to capture the world's attention and climb onto the podium at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Four men and four women will wear the Maple Leaf on the start line of the biathlon competitions in Sochi. Three-time Olympians, Jean-Philippe Le Guellec (Shannon, Que.) and Zina Kocher (Red Deer, Alta.), will lead an experienced contingent of Canadian biathletes. Le Guellec, who has rewritten the Canadian history books since putting together a memorable run at Vancouver 2010 with four, top-15 finishes, will lead the men’s squad. Le Guellec became the first Canadian male ever to win a World Cup biathlon event last year. Kocher, who is the only Canadian woman since Myriam Bédard to win a World Cup biathlon medal, headlines a trio of Canadian women who all made their Olympic debut in 2010. The Canadian women’s contingent is coming off a historic fourth-place finish in a World Cup team relay prior to the holiday break.
“This group of athletes may be the most underrated team in Canadian Olympic sport, but we are fiercely driven to capitalize on our position of flying under the radar and make some noise in Sochi,” said Chris Lindsay, high-performance director, Biathlon Canada. “For the first time ever we are naming a full team of athletes that nearly all have Olympic experience, and that is a significant competitive advantage in fielding a biathlon team that is ready to legitimately challenge for the Olympic podium for the first time in nearly two decades.”
Joining Kocher in the women’s troops will be Olympians Rosanna Crawford (Canmore, Alta.), who has been posting the team’s top results this year; Megan Imrie (Falcon Lake, Man.), who has rattled off a series of personal best performances prior to Christmas; and Megan Heinicke (Prince George, B.C.).
Le Guellec will be joined by 2010 Olympic teammate Brendan Green (Hay River, N.W.T.); along with first-time Olympians, Scott Perras (Regina, Sask.) and Nathan Smith (Calgary, Alta.). All four Canadian men have celebrated unprecedented top-10 results on the World Cup.
“Depth is critical to mounting an attack on the medals, and each athlete on this team has knocked on the door of the World Cup podium,” said Le Guellec. “This is a young but experienced group of athletes that believes if we are firing on all cylinders – anything is possible every time we put on the skis.”
Joined by COC mascot, Komak, each of the athletes received their Olympic jackets while thousands of Canadians were active during the holidays trying their hand at biathlon, alpine and cross-country skiing at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. Each of the athletes skied through an honour guard of young Canadian biathletes while arriving to the stage with the 1988 Olympic cauldron towering above.
“Congratulations to our newly-named Biathletes nominated to represent Canada in Sochi,” added Marcel Aubut, President, Canadian Olympic Committee. “This is a group of hard-working and talented individuals who are eager to put Canada on the map in the sport of Biathlon. Our goal in Sochi is to contend for the top spot in overall medals won, and I have full confidence that these athletes will help us reach that goal.”
The Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games will take place from February 7-23, 2014. The Canadian Olympic Team has set a goal to contend for the top spot in overall medals won.
“Congratulations to the biathlon athletes named today to represent Canada at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi,” said the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport). “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I wish all these athletes the very best of success as they prepare for this incredible milestone in their sport careers. All of Canada will be cheering for you and your Olympic teammates this February.”
List of Biathletes nominated to the Sochi 2014 Canadian Olympic Team:
Megan Heinicke Prince George, BC
Megan Imrie Falcon Lake, MB
Rosanna Crawford Canmore, AB
Zina Kocher Red Deer, AB
Brendan Green Hay River, NWT
Jean-Philippe Le Guellec Shannon, QC
Nathan Smith Calgary, AB
Scott Perras Regina, SK
Canada’s biathletes now join 10 speed skating athletes, 10 Curling athletes, 16 bobsledders, seven lugers, four skeleton athletes and 21 women hockey players as the next members on the Canadian Olympic Team. Up to fourteen more teams will be announced between now and February.