ÖSTERSUND, Sweden – Call it perfect timing for Canada’s Christina Picton whose near perfect day on the range resulted in a first-ever podium at the 2023 Para Nordic Skiing World Championships.
Gunning down 19-for-20 targets, one of the best days on the range in her life, Picton took bronze in the women’s sitting 12.5-kilometre biathlon race in Östersund, Sweden, on Jan. 27.
It was a big boost of confidence for the 29-year-old Canmorite, by way of Fonthill, Ont., who’s experienced the adverse effects of an equipment change this season – where she moved from sitting to kneeling – but the transition is finally starting to pay off in hardware.
“Being on the podium at world champs still doesn’t seem real to me, especially in a biathlon race,” said Picton. “This season I’ve had a lot of changes to equipment that impacted my biathlon range procedure. It felt like every week we were changing things that got into my head and made me doubt my position and in turn affected my shooting quite a bit.
“All the changes we made through the fall and start of the season were totally worth it.”
An elite hockey player for 17 years, Picton is one of the best at taking shots and scoring on net, but shooting down targets on the range with a rifle in hand is still in development. Out on the course, it crossed Picton’s mind that her one missed shot had probably cost her a spot on the podium. That is until she was informed the closest competition for bronze had already missed a staggering five shots.
“So from then on it was all about keeping my composure in the range and doing the procedure I know and trusted to hit all the targets,” she said. “If I had tried to rush things or let any doubt creep in, I’m sure the result would’ve been a lot different.”
Picton moved to Canmore in 2021 to pursue Para Nordic skiing at the highest level, and is a 2022 Paralympian, who is still learning lessons every day.
“One of the things we talk about is we can only control the things we have control over,” said Brian McKeever, Picton’s head coach.
“We don’t live and die by hit and misses in biathlon or lap-to-lap skiing, it’s the entire thing you have to be able to put mistakes behind you and concentrate on the present.
“I’m proud of her for what she did out there on that day. She had one miss and it could have really thrown her off, but she got it back together and she’s learning that one mistake doesn’t make a race.”
The world championships will go down in the history books for Team Canada, which had its best showing ever with an impressive 16 medals (seven gold, six silver, and three bronze).
Picton was extremely happy with how things went.
“Yes, I’m new to the sport but I have the ability to be a contender for the podium, when everything comes together,” she said. “That’s a cool feeling. It inspires me to keep chasing my goals and see what more can happen with more time and experience.”