Storybook ending for Dupuis at nationals
Thursday, Mar 16, 2017 06:00 am
The award for biggest smile at the Canadian Biathlon Championships goes to Alexandre Dupuis.
Crossing the finish line in first place in the men’s 12.5 kilometre pursuit Saturday (March 11), Dupuis beamed at the following his cathartic win.
Ten months ago, Dupuis was in the middle of a nasty road bike accident outside Inveremere, B.C. during a training ride with his Biathlon Alberta Training Centre teammates. In a crash that wiped out nearly half of the country’s top biathlon prospects, Dupuis came away with the ugliest of injuries – two broken elbows. He’s gone under the knife three times to fix the damage, and still doesn’t have full range of motion in his left hand.
“It feels really, really, really, really good after a tough year. It feels so good today to pull off the win,” Dupuis said.
A year after earning a spot on Canada’s world junior team, Dupuis was originally preparing to take the next step in his career and represent Canada on the IBU Cup circuit. But after the accident, which also wiped out Leilani Von Tam Berg and Aidan Millar, it was doubtful if Dupuis would ever race again.
“The accident happened on June 18, 2016 and I had gone through three surgeries. The last surgery was in September, so I didn’t really get to train until late October, early November,” he said. “Since then, I’ve been trying to focus on having some good training and having some fun. If you’re having fun, you’re training well. My left arm won’t turn more than a 45 degree angle. I can’t face my palm to the sky. That affects my shooting and I had to modify my rifle. It’s worked out OK, but not the best.”
Dupuis missed four targets and stopped the clock in 37:43 to take the win over Max Durtschi of the U.S.A., while Kurtis Wenzel finished in third place.
Dupuis was on a mission to salvage his season at nationals and started the week with several disappointing results. That only made the win sweeter, he said.
“The races at the beginning of the week wasn’t what I was looking for, but today I wanted to get my shooting together. It wasn’t great, but it was good enough. I got the win, that’s what matters,” Dupuis said.
With Wenzel only missing three targets on the day, Dupuis knew he had to charge hard on his last lap, and clean up his range performance. He shot 4/5 on his last trip to the range to carry the win.
Dupuis still has one more surgery scheduled in April. If successful, it will restore a full range of motion in his left arm, and hopefully get his career back on track.
“It’s really nice to feel fast on skis again. I’m super pumped about next season, and my goal is to earn a world cup start next year,” Dupuis said.
Pearce Hanna was the fastest skier in the junior men’s pursuit. Hanna also struggled with illness this year as he adjusted to overseas competition, but is also ready for a fresh start next season. Trevor Kiers of Ontario finished second, while Lucas Boudreau of PEI was third.
Adam Runnalls took the national title in the youth men’s division, followed by Thomas Hulsman and Sergey Bochkarnikov. All three men are from Alberta. Rory Gilliand won the senior boys race over Logan Pletz and Cole Bender, who were second and third, respectively.