Thomas Hulsman, of Airdrie, tries to keep ahead of Quebec’s Leo Grandbois in Sunday 7.5-km men’s pursuit biathlon. Grandbois would take gold and Hulsman finished 16th. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff

Alberta’s biathlon women sweep the podium

Alberta biathletes take four medals, including silver in men’s race, on Sunday

Team Alberta swept the podium in the women’s six-km sprint biathlon at the Canada Winter Games on Sunday.

Alberta’s medal haul didn’t end there, as Calgarian Reid Lovstrom took home silver in the men’s 7.5 km sprint at River Bend Recreation Area.

“It’s really cool,” said gold medallist Jenna Sherrington of the Calgary trio’s performance. “It’s awesome to have my friends up here on the podium.”

Sherrington said her shooting was a big factor in her success.

“Just taking a few extra breaths coming into the range was super helpful,” she said. “Because the wind was super inconsistent and it was really cold, so taking my time was really helpful.”

Pascale Paradis also had a great experience in Red Deer.

“It was a super fun race. I had a really good time and I didn’t get too cold, which I was was really happy about.”

“I was definitely hoping for a podium. I was surprised at how well I shot because my shooting is super inconsistent most of the time,” she said with a chuckle. “So it was pretty spontaneous for me to hit nine out of 10.”

Paradis said the three had aimed to one day all stand on the podium together, but she wasn’t expecting it to happen on Sunday.

“It’s crazy that it happened in the first race. So, hopefully it can happen again.”

Bronze medallist Naomi Walch felt strong skiing propelled her to the podium.

“This is my kind of course with short bursts of uphills and long flats where I can kind of gain speed,” she said. “And the shooting was just really great for me today.”

Race day was much colder than they have faced so far this season but they were up for it.

“This was definitely one of the coldest races we’ve raced this year. So, we weren’t really expecting it but we’ve done this before and we know how to prepare for it.”

The biathlon races were originally scheduled for 9 a.m. but were pushed back to 2 p.m. because of the cold.

Biathlon coach Tyson Smith said the performance of the athletes was “amazing.” Karly Coyne, of Canmore, also made it into the top 10, finishing ninth.

“I knew we were coming in to do well. Between the boys and the girls, hopefully, two to three podiums. But sweeping a podium I didn’t think was really possible,” said Smith.

“The shooting was really good today for the girls. They shot really quickly and they were dead on.”

Home field advantage also helped, he believes. “We came here last year for a race and then we were here for a camp about a month ago, so you get to know the wind, you get to know the track.”

Lovstrom, another Calgarian, was pleased with how well his day went.

“I think I pushed everywhere I could have,” he said.

“The shooting went quite well. I took it easy going into the range because the course is so flat there is not too much rest.”

His second-place finish was higher than he expected, he said.

“I’m at the lower end of the age category,” said the 18-year-old. “I feel really good about that considering there are some top dogs here.”

Gold medallist Leo Grandbois, of Munich, Quebec, is a good friend of his and he looked forward to standing with him on the podium. Coquitlam, B.C.’s Andrei Secu won the bronze medal.

Lovstrom said the Games organizing team did a great job turning a course that didn’t overly impress last year into a top-notch venue.

“They have really pulled it together. It looks amazing here, completely different from last year. It’s very apparent a lot of work has gone into this.”

Among the other Albertan men competing, Calgary’s Haldan Borglum cracked the top 10, finishing sixth; Chad Berling, of Calgary, finished 14th; and Thomas Hulsman, of Airdrie, finished 16th.

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Mark Naylor, of Manitoba, takes aim during the mens 7.5-km pursuit biathlon on Sunday. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff

Reid Lovstrom, of Calgary, got the silver medal in the men’s 7.5-km pursuit biathlon on Sunday. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff

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