GERMANY – In the first world cup races of the decade, biathletes Matthew Strum and Emily Dickson got the call up they had been striving for.
The Canmore-based athletes made their BMW IBU World Cup debuts in the women and men sprint races on Jan. 9-10 in Oberhof, Germany, with Dickson finishing 46th and Strum 82nd.
“Moving up to the world cup is a whole different beast, and now it's my main motivation,” wrote Strum in an email. “I've been able to compete there, now I know I have to keep improving to become a regular on that circuit.”
Solid results this season on the IBU Cup circuit, the world cup’s breeding ground, made it possible for Strum and Dickson to step up in international competition, which is where all competitive biathletes aim to be.
Those first time feelings 😯😍😫 congratulations to Tamara Steiner 🇦🇹, Ana Larisa Crotus 🇷🇴, Michaela Carrara 🇮🇹, Tereza Vobornikova 🇨🇿, Hallie Grossman🇺🇸 and @emdickson23 🇨🇦 for this big step! Those were not the easiest conditions for a debut. #OBE20 (📸Thonfeld) pic.twitter.com/oKjt4fieCN— IBU World Cup (@IBU_WC) January 9, 2020
After years of hard training mixed with uncertainty in the sport, a dream was finally realized for Strum, who started biathlon when he was eight years old.
“This was the most nervous I have been going into a race in a longtime,” wrote the 24-year-old Canmorite. “Sleeping was difficult and didn't really have an appetite.”
Strum thinks pre-race nerves might have got to his skiing, but he shot clean standing and missed one in prone.
In the tough field of 100 competitors, it was fog and strong winds that proved to be the biggest test even for the most surgical shooters. But with 10,000 fans wildly cheering, Strum said it was an amazing atmosphere for the 10-kilometre sprint.
“During one of my laps I was skiing with a German competitor, and the crowd was going absolutely ballistic, it was awesome,” he wrote. “(…) Climbing that big hill with hundreds of people cheering me on was something else.
“After finishing that race, I feel my goals for the season have been more solidified, now I really want to perform well and get back on the world cup circuit."
Dickson only missed one shot on the range en route to a top 50 finish in her world cup debut in the 7.5-km sprint.
In a Facebook post, Dickson, a 22-year-old from Burns Lake, B.C., wrote she’s already looking forward to her next individual world cup start.
“Knowing I’m capable of stronger performances has me stoked for the rest of the season and eager for the next opportunity!! Big thanks to all those who cheered me on either course-side or by yelling at your computer at home it was an exciting day and I’m glad I could share it with you!”
The sprint also saw Canadian Emma Lunder finish seventh, a world cup best.
Up next, the world cup travels to Ruhpolding, Germany.