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Boe, Vittozzi golden in pursuit at Canmore Biathlon World Cup

The Biathlon World Cup season finale is Sunday at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

CANMORE – Powerhouse biathletes Lisa Vittozzi of Italy and Johannes Thingnes Boe of Norway each won their second gold medal and a pair of globes at the 2024 BMW IBU Biathlon World Cup in Canmore on Saturday (March 16).

It was a sunny and warm day for the pursuit races, which was the second last day of the World Cup 2023-24. With overall season awards up for grabs, the top 60 men and women took to the course at the Canmore Nordic Centre. 

Zachary Connelly was the top Canuck, finishing 43rd on 19-for-20 shooting in the men’s 12.5km. Starting with the No. 58 bib, Connelly climbed 15 spots to finish at a time of 39:42.8. Canada’s Adam Runnalls (14/20) was 46th.

The winners of the Thursday's and Friday's sprint races – Vittozzi and Boe – were given a head start in the pursuit, setting off on the course first and the rest of the field giving chase.

However, no one was able to catch Thingnes Boe (17/20), despite some shaky shooting, as the Norwegian clinched the pursuit globe in the process. In second was Sweden's Sebastian Samuelsson (19/20) and in third was France's Eric Perrot (19/20).

“This was the toughest race of the season,” said Boe. “It’s so warm and the snow was so wet, the skis were stuck and I was fighting alone in front, it was a mental game. Thinking about ‘What if’ on the shooting range is not a good thing, but I fought through it and now the yellow [bib] is secured – ah, it's so heavy to fight for it. No one knows.”

Vittozzi (19/20) also couldn't be caught and won gold in the women’s 10km, securing a pursuit globe in the process.

“It’s so wonderful,” she said. “It’s back-to-back and it's amazing, I don’t know what to say. I tried to stay focused on my work even if I was a little nervous this morning, but I managed all the pressure in the right way so I’m really happy.”

French skiers Lou Jeanmonnot (17/20) and Justine Braisaz-Bouchet (17/20) rounded out the podium.

Canadians Nadia Moser (14/20) and Benita Peiffer (17/20) finished in 56 and 57, respectively.

Two-time Canadian Olympian Emma Lunder did not finish the race after being lapped by Vittozzi. Lunder had just completed her third bout in the range when the Italian, entering for her fourth bout, darted past the Canadian.

At that point, Lunder had shot eight-for-15.

“Not the results I wanted, but the atmosphere here with the fans and everyone cheering the Canadians has just been unreal,” said Lunder. “I really felt the support from everyone on every part of the course and especially if you have a bad race but then you can have people out there screaming your name it’s just such a good feeling.”

At 32 years old and finishing a tough season, where an illness factored in, Lunder said she is going to take a break to figure out her future.

“It doesn’t feel like it’s the end, but I do just want to make sure I take some time and sort through things before making any commitments,” she said.

Justin Wadsworth, the national team’s head coach, said Lunder is one of the leaders of the biathlon national team and he said she always gives it it her all.

“That’s what I could always count on,” Wadsworth said.

He added Lunder’s illness – a lingering bout with COVID-19 – was really hard for her to claw out of.

“We saw a bit of what she could do in Soldier Hollow – she was 14th and 17th which are both good results and kind of where she should be,” Wadsworth said. “She knows she can be better than that and I think she kind of got some renewed energy from that, but again, racing at home and her whole family here and it can be a lot and I really feel for her, it was a lot of load mentally to carry, especially through a tough season.”

The season finale of the Biathlon World Cup is Sunday (March 17) at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

The women’s 12.5km mass start begins at 11:10 a.m. and is followed by the men’s 15km mass start at 3:20 p.m.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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