CANMORE – The final spot on Canada’s men’s world cup biathlon team is “up for grabs” with one trial race remaining.
Biathlon Canada is holding its annual trial racing this week (Nov. 5-6, 8) at the Canmore Nordic Centre, which determines who will be selected to the world cup and IBU cup teams this season.
Four Olympians: Scott Gow, Christian Gow, Emma Lunder and Sarah Beaudry have pre-qualified for the four-member men’s and women’s teams and Friday is the last shot biathletes will have to impress coaches and make the national team.
“It makes it exciting going into Friday’s racing, you know, there’s world cup and IBU cup spots on the line and I think Friday will determine a lot,” said Justin Wadsworth, head coach of Biathlon Canada’s national team.
Wadsworth has to crunch numbers still, but said the two remaining women’s world cup spots look to be locked in for Nadia Moser, positioning herself strongly for the third spot, and Megan Bankes likely taking the fourth.
The men’s side is much more unclear at the moment.
Canmore native Aidan Millar is “pretty much a lock” for the third spot on the world cup team, but the fourth is “up for grabs.”
“Trevor Kiers had a good race [Tuesday], [but] not as good [Wednesday]. Carsen Campbell, he’s kind of had two medium days and Jules [Burnotte], [Tuesday] dropped out and [Wednesday] had a good race, so he put himself back in the mix going into Friday’s race. So I think Friday is going to be really exciting,” Wadsworth said.
Trials are a tense few days for biathletes, as it determines their entire season. For Lunder, a PyeongChang Olympian, it’s the first time in eight years of training in Canmore that she’s pre-qualified for the world cup team.
“This is usually the most stressful part of the season for me,” Lunder said. “So that is the nice thing – I’ve been able to train really well and not get too caught up in the results and I just want to execute what I want to do in the winter.”
Despite trials not being the same worrying times for Lunder, she said she wanted to approach them like she’s already midseason and in the habit of preparing like she would overseas.
“[I’m] trying to get into that race feeling and fighting for every second,” she said.
For those fighting for spots, such as Canmore native Matt Strum, one bad shooting outing could swallow the chance to compete overseas.
However, the 23-year-old biathlete is in a much different position than a year ago when he was struggling to get noticed for an IBU cup spot.
“I definitely [feel] like I could make the IBU team and I still think I can, but I think the world cup [team] wasn’t out of the question,” Strum said.
IBU cup members are in development to take over spots on the top circuit world cup team.
“I think since last year [coaches] have had their eye on me because I made the IBU team, so I’m getting more attention from the national team coaches even though I’m not on the national team,” Strum said.
In Wednesday’s sprint racing, Scott Gow finished first in the men’s 10-kilometre race at a time of 25:28.9, shooting eight for 10.
Millar was second at 25:47.6 (9/10) and Burnotte at third at 25:54.2 (7/10).
In the women’s 7.5-km sprint race, Moser crossed the line in first at 22:06.4, shooting nine for 10.
Beaudry finished second at 22:26.8 (9/10) and Lunder was third at 11:50.3 (8/10).
In Tuesday’s short individual races, Lunder finished first in the women’s 12.5-km race at a time of 43:01.9, shooting 19 for 20.
In the men’s 15-km race, Millar crossed the line first overall at a time of 45:54.7, shooting 17 for 20.
For full results, visit www.zone4.ca.