BRITISH COLUMBIA

B.C. claim gold medal in women's biathlon at Canada Winter Games

02/20/2015 08:39 EST | Updated 04/22/2015 05:59 EDT
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. - Team B.C. climbed back from an early hole to win the gold medal in biathlon at the Canada Winter Games on Friday.

Tekara Banser and team alternate Jennah Smailes of Kelowna, and Prince George biathletes Claire Lapointe and Emily Dickson, finished the women's 3x6-kilometre relay in one hour 6.9 seconds, a full two minutes ahead of Quebec (1:02:08.0). Alberta claimed bronze.

Banser stayed right with the leaders on the first lap but had trouble at the range in her prone shooting bout. After emptying her clip, Banser had three shots to reload but missed and left two targets standing.

Banser, 17, was the only skier of the first wave to have to ski a penalty loop and her two laps in purgatory left B.C. a full two minutes behind. But she made up a lot of ground on her second lap and shot clean and by the time she tagged Lapointe, a medal for B.C. was a real possibility again.

Lapointe, 16, skied well and shot clean in both bouts, drawing roars from the crowd as all five targets fell. She caught leader Anabelle Poisson-Gregoire of Quebec on the first big uphill and had a 16-second lead over Alberta's Kirsten Chicoine as she tagged Dickson, the B.C. anchor.

Dickson, who won gold in Wednesday's pursuit, was the fastest skier in the relay and shot clean in both bouts, leaving her all alone at the finish with her teammates to celebrate their win.

Banser said she never lost faith her team could still pull it off despite all her troubles at the range.

"I knew after I missed those two I had to step up the ski speed," said Banser. "We were sitting fourth (when she tagged Lapointe) and Claire made up a lot of time on her ski and so did Emily. But you don't know until they come around to the finish line — the course is very technical."

Lapointe continued her hot streak on the range, going 10-for-10 while finishing fifth in the pursuit. She was nearly perfect in the 20-target relay, having to reload just once.

"I got my mojo back," said Lapointe. "It is exhilarating. I can't even put it into words how proud I am. It makes us a family. It's great to be golden."

Dickson got through her two shooting bouts one minute before Quebec anchor, Charlotte Hamel, got to the shooting mat.

"It's awesome to be able to share this with my team — every one of these girls put in a solid result and to have them take home a gold medal, I'm just happy I could help them earn it," said Dickson, who won bronze in the individual race and silver in the sprint. "I never had any doubts, I knew they could execute it. I just had to hold the lead."

Quebec's Poisson-Gregoire caught an edge on one of the steep corners and fell, leaving her bleeding from the nose as she tagged Charlotte Hamel. Hamel caught Kendal Chong in the range to move into the silver position after Chong left one target up.