HOCHFILZEN - A trip to Austria was very good to Biathlon Canada's relay teams.
The individual results haven't quite been there yet for Canada, but team racing hit a different level on Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 14-15) when the women finished fifth in the four by 6-km relay, its best result since 2013. The men's fourth place finish was its best ever result on the world cup in the four by 7.5-km relay.
For the men, consisting of Scott Gow, Christian Gow, Aidan Millar and Jules Burnotte, they showed “as a team what we are capable of."
“I wasn’t really aware of what was going on in the race until Jules shot standing,” wrote Millar, a Canmore native, in an email. “I watched him shoot on one of the big screens then continued warming up. I got to the start pen in time to watch Scott shoot prone and from then on knew what was going on in the race.”
Millar was racing the third leg of the relay after Burnotte and Scott Gow and said he was pretty nervous waiting to be tagged in as Canada was firmly in contention for a podium.
To ease his tensions, Millar was reminded of advice from a sports physiologist that being nervous was perfectly fine.
“Thinking of that allowed me dissociate myself a bit from the nerves and just focus on racing and doing my job,” wrote Millar. “When I finished, Jules and Scott were out on course, so I watched Christian’s leg from the start pen with our masseuse Sophie. We [were] both excited and nervous now that it was close to the end and a good result was within reach.
“I had executed what I needed to and done what I could to put [Christian] on a good spot.”
A day before when the Canadian women were sprinting to fifth, none of the Canadian men had raced in the individual pursuit, which was “their real secret” because they were rested for the relay, said Christian post-race to IBU TV.
Norway won the men's relay and was followed by Germany and France. The Canadians tied for the best shooting of any country at 0+6.
In 2016, the Canada men's relay team won bronze at the World Championship in Norway, where the Gows, Nathan Smith and Brendan Green made Canadian history.
Last season, Olympic veterans Smith, Green and Rosanna Crawford retired from the sport and longtime head coach Matthias Ahrens resigned, which ushered in a new era for Biathlon Canada, its biathletes and new coach, Justin Wadsworth.
Millar thinks the weekend result is a teaser of what the men’s team is capable of doing on the world's stage.
“The season has started off much more slowly than I think all of us had been hoping for, so hopefully the relay can be a launch pad for the rest of the season,” he wrote. “We know we had some great training this summer and up until the relay hadn’t shown that. It’s a long season and if we can build off this result I think there will be more to come.”