SWEDEN – Scott Gow was saving his best stuff for last.
The 30-year-old biathlete went out with a bang in the season-ending world cup 15-km mass start, finishing with a career-best 10th last Sunday (March 21) in Östersund, Sweden.
Gow was trigger happy on the range and blasting down targets with 90 per cent accuracy (18/20), which is well above his overall season average of 82 per cent.
“What a year,” Gow wrote on social media. “It was an excellent season with great racing and some personal best results for me and my teammates, which is something to always be proud of.”
Gow finished 41st overall in world cup points. After a slow start for the 2018 Olympian, who trains out of Canmore, he began piecing things together and turning things around following February’s world championships.
Before March, all of Gow’s individual results were outside the top 30, but a final trimester surge saw improvements in both skiing and marksmanship and accumulated into one top 10, two top 20s, and two top 30s.
“He had a really great last trimester of racing,” said Biathlon Canada head coach Justin Wadsworth. “To finish off the season in 10th place in mass start and as high as fourth place after the second shooting was really, really just what everyone on the team needed at least because we were all a strong team and everyone’s really happy when someone else does well like that.”
Gow, along with the rest of the world cup biathletes, completed what was a less than ordinary season in racing history. He was among many North American athletes who had an extended stay overseas since last November in order to compete during COVID.
“There was a lot of uncertainty this season with COVID, but the [IBU World Cup] and [Biathlon Canada] did an amazing job making sure we were able to compete and do it safely,” he wrote.
Finishing off the season like Gow did, though, was especially encouraging considering it was the final piece of racing ahead of an Olympic year.
“We know where we need to go with each athlete individually and we’re going to be working hard to make those small steps forward and keep improving on our shooting consistency,” said Wadsworth.
The only other two Canadians racing in the season-ending world cup were big guns, Christian Gow and Emma Lunder.
However, most of the pair's top results were earlier in the season and at the world championships. Each achieved career bests in mass start at the biggest race of the year, when Gow finished 11th, and Lunder took 17th. In the single mixed relay, the duo finished eighth.
"The highlights were the consistency of Emma Lunder's results, and for most of the season, keeping her inside the top 20 overall on the world cup, which was really great consistency from her and a really strong overall season," said Wadsworth.
"Christian Gow, also [had a] really consistent, strong season, and 11th place at world championships, which was PB for him at world championships for him individual race, so that was a really great thing."
With the off season now underway, the head coach is pleased with what he saw this year with the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on the horizon.
"We had lot of personal bests this year, which is always kind of what you're trying to achieve in an endurance sport," he said. "You just have to chip away and make gradual improvements for most of the athletes on the team and I feel like we achieved that this year."