Crawford tops roller biathlon event
Rosanna Crawford cruised to a gold medal victory in the 10 kilometre pursuit at the North American Summer Biathlon Championships on Sunday (Sept. 9) at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
The roller ski race is essentially a time trial for top athletes, but does factor into the national biathlon team selection process.
Going into the 2012/2013 season, Crawford said she wants to prove she belongs on the World Cup circuit after spending much of last year racing IBU cup races. She put in her best summer of training to date, and was healthy for the entire off-season. As a result, early on, Crawford appears to be a faster athlete.
“I no longer want to be fighting for that last spot on the World Cup. This summer I’ve focused on keeping my upper body stronger. It’s amazing, the stronger you get, the easier skiing becomes,” Crawford said.
She shot 17 for 20 in Sunday’s pursuit, which gave her a sizable lead. Her goal was 18 for 20, but the effort was still enough for the win.
“Shooting has always been easy for me. It’s the skiing I’ve had to work on” Crawford said.
Much of her training this summer has been under the watchful eye of assistant coach Roddy Ward.
“Roddy has been super important. He believes in me and works harder to make me efficient,” Crawford said.
Melanie Schulz finished second in the women’s pursuit. Her ski speed was strong, but the hawk-eyed shooter was uncharacteristically off in the range, missing five targets. After shooting clean in the sprint on Saturday, she was hoping for more of the same.
“My skiing was good, but missing five was disappointing. When you know you can shoot clean, you expect it every time,” Schultz said. “Shooting head-to-head is always harder as well.”
After a lull in her training part-way through the summer, Schultz has continued to improve and envisions IBU medals in her future. Following a week of intense training, she and her teammates have several training camps lined up for the rest of the fall.
Crawford, Schultz and members of the Biathlon Alberta Training Centre followed up the race with a week of hard training on the Haig Glacier. They follow that up with a camp in Park City.
Junior racer Julia Ransom moved up to compete with the senior woman and finished third.
Head coach Matthias Ahrens said he was satisfied with performances.
“Overall, we’re on track with the A and B teams. Participation was low, so mainly the team was competing with themselves. It was a good benchmark to where we are now,” Ahrens said.
Many of Canada’s top women were absent from the competition. Zina Kocher skipped the race due to a sore back, while Megan Imrie was attending her brother’s wedding in Manitoba. Megan Heinicke continues to train in Germany and Yolaine Oddou is still training in Quebec.
The national team will travel to Germany and Austria at the end of the month to further their training.
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