Scary crash costs biathletes at world cup opener

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As if one needed more proof the Canadian national biathlon team cannot catch a break, pay attention to the 2017 world cup season opener in Oestersund, Sweden.

The mixed team of Rosanna Crawford and Christian Gow started strong. Crawford had the Canadians a mere seven seconds out of the lead before tagging off to Gow. The youngest of the Gow brothers shot clean, and kept the Canadians in the mix, 18.8 seconds back. Canada has a history of strong performances in the single mixed relay – Crawford won silver with Nathan Smith in the event two years ago – and the stars appeared ready to align once again.

Crawford attacked on her final leg, and passed an Italian skier to propel the Canadians into third place. She set her sights on Germany’s Vanessa Hinz, and a silver medal.

That’s when she traded biathlon for gymnastics.

Crawford tumbled hard down the icy track, somersaulting violently before coming to a halt at the bottom of a hill. It was one of the most spectacular crashes seen.

“I hit ice on one of the last downhills of the loop and did a few somersaults. I stayed on the ground for several seconds and finally got up and skied to the range. Once I got there, my rifle was full of snow,” Crawford wrote after the race.

She had to switch to a spare rifle, but by then, the race was lost. The leaders lapped through and eliminated the Canadians, relegating them to a 22nd-place finish.

“I had wasted too much time after my crash and in the range. This is a really fast paced race and once you get lapped, they pull you out,” Crawford said.

The world cup veteran said her rifle was fine after the crash, but her shoulder was bothering her. “My shoulder was the most injured part of me. I tried skiing (Monday) but it hurt quite a lot,” Crawford said.

Since she stayed in the race, Crawford salvaged a few Nations Cup points for Canada. The team wants to improve its ranking, so it gains another world cup start spot. Biathlon Canada states Crawford did not suffer any broken bones, only cuts and bruises.

The Austrian team of Lisa Hauser and Simon Eder won the race in 36:17, followed by Germany and Kazakhstan.

Canada faired slightly better in the mixed relay, where the team of Emma Lunder, Julia Ransom, Scott Gow, and Brendan Green finished 15th. The Canadians struggled in the range, using 12 spares (rifle rounds), and ended up 3:28 off the pace. Norway won the season opener for the third year in a row, followed by Italy and Germany.

World cup racing continued Wednesday (Nov. 29) with the women’s 15 kilometre individual. All races will stream live at www.eurovisionsports.tv/ibu.

On the IBU circuit, the feeder league for the world cup, Canadians faired much better. Sarah Beaudry and Carsen Campbell teamed up to finish fourth in the single mixed relay – a mere 13 seconds off the podium.

Lunder started her season on the IBU Cup circuit with a 19th-place finish in the 7.5 km sprint to lead the team. Campbell was 35th in the 10 km sprint, representing Canada’s men’s team.

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