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Retired biathlete to remain key in Alberta development system

Two-time Olympian Christian Gow transitions to coaching biathlon.

CANMORE – A big gun in Canada’s biathlon scene is hanging up his race bib, but the smoke hasn’t cleared on his time in the winter sport.

Christian Gow, a World Championship medallist and one of the nation’s most accomplished biathletes, recently retired from competition at age 31 after spending two decades in the sport, which included 212 World Cup starts and two trips to the Winter Olympic Games.

Looking forward, he’s excited to be taking on a leadership role in the local biathlete development system. 

Looking back, Gow said he wouldn’t have done anything differently on the frozen trails.

“I wanted to pursue this for as long as I was enjoying it, motivated and engaged with it,” said Gow. “This year was the first year with that reflection that I thought I’m ready to move on to new things.

“My experience with biathlon has been absolutely incredible and I’m so thankful for it, but I also felt ready for the next steps of my life.”

While spending years training at the Canmore Nordic Centre, Gow became a sniper in the range and he might have reason to wrestle away the “sharpshooter” moniker from fellow Calgarian Bret Hart and his finishing move. The biathlete shot an astounding 91 per cent career average in standing position and 81 per cent in prone.

His remarkable shot and velocity on skis helped Canada reach new heights in the sport.

In 2016, Gow, along with brother Scott, Nathan Smith and Brendan Green won bronze at the World Championship in the men’s relay – the best result ever for Canada’s men in international relay competition. But that wasn’t the only relay team Gow made history with. At the Beijing Games, Canada had its best-ever Olympic result in the men's biathlon relay, finishing sixth place. 

Along with racing in single mixed relay with partner Emma Lunder, they are memories Gow fondly looks back on.

Individually, at the 2021 World Championships, the biggest races of the year outside of an Olympics, Gow smashed personal bests, finishing 11th in the mass start and 17th in the 10-km sprint. At the Beijing Games, the Canuck had 12th and 13th place finishes.

“My goal when I started back as a kid was to go to the Olympics,” said Gow. “The Beijing Olympics was very different because … being my second Olympics, I felt more prepared from the performance side of things.

“It really made that experience really fun because we were there and we were competing at the highest level and we were ready for it and putting up great results.”

Gow took an assistant coach role at the Biathlon Alberta Training Centre in Canmore, where his nearly 10 years on the World Cup will be invaluable for the next generation of biathletes looking to be named to the national team.

Excited for his new opportunity and to still be able to stay in the sport, Gow said he believes he has the right mind for coaching.

“We’re still a very, very small sport in this country and … I feel like each person on the national team really fights and claws their way for every extra placing in the rankings on the World Cup,” said Gow.

“One of the things that I want to be able to do is pass on some of what I’ve learned in my experiences and hope that we can make that journey to the top level of performance a little more streamlined and not as much trial and error.”

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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