Crawford leads Canadians in individual race

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Rosanna Crawford missed two shots in her first trip to the range, but shot clean the rest of the way to lead the Canadians with a 26th-place finish in the 15-kilometre individual biathlon race, Thursday (Feb. 15) at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Crawford clawed her way back from 77th spot to 26th on the strength of solid shooting and ski speed. The ultimate competitor, Crawford was left wanting more after finishing 3:48 behind surprise winner Hanna Oeberg of Sweden.

“Another top-30 is great, but to have missed two in my first prone is really disappointing. I didn’t trust myself with making a correction for the wind and I’m kicking myself a bit that I didn’t do that. It could have been a really good day with 20/20,” Crawford said.

The 29-year-old is well suited for the course and, had she shot clean, would have been in contention for a top-five result, and perhaps the podium.

Sarah Beaudry proved to be Canada’s super sub. Tagging in for Megan Tandy, who missed the race because of illness, she shot 19/20 and finished 29th in her Olympic debut. It is one of the best results of her young career.

Emma Lunder shot 17/20 and finished 54th, while Julia Ransom missed five targets to finish 74th. The individual race replaces penalty loops with one minute time penalties for missed targets.

Oeberg had never finished higher than 21st on the world cup circuit, so her win came as a surprise. Sweden has had several career-best performances at the Games.

Anastasiya Kuzmina of the Czech Republic missed two targets, but was fast enough to take the silver. Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier won her third medal of the Olympics, taking the bronze. Several big names faded under the pressure of the big match.

Crawford said the big stage shines brightest on the stars of the sport, who struggle.

“The Olympics are the pinnacle of sport. This really is a hard thing to overcome mentally if you are the favourite. You know you’re the best on paper, but to have that come through at the Games can be incredibly difficult – especially in a sport like biathlon with the shooting. The second you think about the result, you’ve pretty much thrown it away,” Crawford said.

The race was rescheduled due to high winds which plagued the first week of biathlon competition and affected the Canadians in the sprint races. Head coach Matthias Ahrens said weather is improving, much to the delight of event organizers.

“The start was tough with all the wind and cold temperatures, but it looks better now,” Ahrens said. “This would have been really good for Nations Cup points on the world cup, and I am in general quite happy about today’s performance. We had some really bad luck with the wind in the sprint, but in the individual, it had fair conditions.”

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