No male Canadian athlete has ever medalled in biathlon at the Olympic Games, but Calgary brothers Christian and Scott Gow may be on the verge of ending that drought.
Shooting clean and skiing swiftly Scott, 31, finished fourth in the 20-kilometre men’s World Championship in late November in Sweden. Christian, 28, who missed one target, finished 10th.
“Christian and Scott have a chance,” said Biathlon Canada head coach Justin Wadsworth.
“Their performances at the World Championships have them in a place, where if they shoot like they are capable, then a medal comes into play.”
Scott and Christian think winning a medal at Beijing in this February's Olympics is doable as well.
“If we can do what we did (in Sweden) --and maybe a little more--it is 100 per cent possible,” said Scott.
“It was a good start to the season. We normally don’t come out of the gate with personal bests in Week One.
“It’s nice to come into the season ready to race and achieve a good result right away.
“It made everyone else--the rest of the team--very motivated.”
And to think both brothers had never even cross-country skied when they were first introduced to the world of biathlon--a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting--at a summer camp at Calgary’s Canadian Olympic Park, before they were teenagers.
“Canadian Olympic Sports put on a demonstration where you could try a whole bunch of different winter sports,” Christian recalled of the day back in 2001 when he was just 9 years-old and Scott was 11.
“One of them was biathlon. They had a little shooting range right there. It was all very new to us.”
Christian said both he and Scott enjoyed it right away.
“We liked the challenge and, especially at that young of an age, we really enjoyed the shooting element.
“We went home and told our parents how much we liked it and asked if we could sign up for a fall program. Our parents said, uh, okay, knowing we had never skied before.”
Scott said “When we shot air rifles that was a lot of fun. Shooting was the big draw.
“I think that’s what really drew us both in.
“Then we learned how to ski and shoot a little more. It just grew together.
“Then we started to enjoy the competition aspect of it. Each year we both got more serious; it wasn’t long before we started training year-round.”
Success came quickly.
In the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax, Scott won gold in all events he entered--sprint, individual, pursuit and relay--while Christian got silver in pursuit and bronze in individual.
“Scott got all the gold; there was none left for everyone else,” smiled Christian.
After more personal bests in the 2016 IBU World Championship in Oslo the brothers made Canadian biathlon history when they and teammates Nathan Smith and Brendan Green won bronze in the 4 x 7.5 km relay. It was Canada’s first ever men’s biathlon medal at the World Championships.
“That was a huge career highlight for both of us and an incredible moment for the team,” said Scott. “There were 50,000 people watching us at the Oslo venue.”
The brothers competed in their first Olympics four years ago in Korea. With a personal best Scott was 14th in the Individual; Christian, with a close-to-personal best was 26th.
“We were both a bit young at the last Olympics,” said Scott. "They say the peak age in cross country skiing or biathlon, or any endurance sport, is 28 to 30. That’s where we are now. And we both obviously have four more years of training as we get ready to compete (hopefully) in our next Olympics.”
Scott and Christian have several more World Championships to contest before Beijing: Austria, France, Germany and Italy.
“We’ll do our best to deliver,” said Scott.
The winter Olympics run Feb. 4-20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
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