GERMANY – Emma Lunder, known by high school friends as Thunder Lunder, made some serious noise overseas at the world cup.
The 28-year-old biathlete, who resides in Canmore, had her two best world cup finishes in sprint and mass start in Oberhof, Germany, finishing seventh on Thursday (Jan. 9) and 15th on Sunday (Jan. 12).
The impressive results have qualified Lunder for the 2020 Biathlon World Championships, she said, which take place in Italy from Feb. 13-23.
Despite pouring rain, fog and gusting wind – or the "Oberhof trifecta" – Lunder shot clean in Thursday’s sprint to propel the Vernon, B.C. native’s top 10 finish, her best result since finishing ninth in sprint last March in Oslo, Norway.
“Oberhof can be a tricky place to race because the weather is so unpredictable,” wrote Lunder in an email. “My goal was to put the weather out of my mind and just focus on a good range procedure and technically good skiing. I think I did my job perfectly on the range, and also had a decent time skiing, which ended in a pretty good result."
Emily Dickson, who trains out of Canmore, made her world cup debut in the sprint, finishing 46th.
After coming off the Christmas break, Oberhof was the first world cup event of 2020, and Lunder was ready to get back on the skis.
She said working with shooting coach Pavel Lantsov for a year has been beneficial and her ski technique and speed has “definitely improved” under new Biathlon Canada head coach, Justin Wadsworth.
“Personally, I think the key to having a good start to the season for me is that I was able to stay healthy all training season and winter so far (knock on wood), and just put in consistent, focused work,” wrote Lunder. “There's a fresh and excited energy on the team and it's made me want to step up my game both as a racer and teammate.”
In Sunday’s mass start, the third time Lunder has competed in one, she said she was really nervous beforehand. It's a testament to the level of competition because last summer, Lunder didn't bat an eye when staring down and then using pepper spray on a grizzly bear she encountered in Canmore.
“It can be a bit daunting knowing you're going head to head with the best 30 women in the world,” she wrote. “I told that to our shooting coach Pavel during zero, and he basically said to me, 'how about I can be the nervous one today, and you just go enjoy the race', which is what I proceeded to do.”