Zina Kocher had a very encouraging day Saturday at the Rossland Haywood NorAms. It’s not only her third place in the Sr Women’s Sprint, it’s the way she’s showing improvement.
Zina, a Canadian star biathlete who retired at the end of the 2016 season only to come back for a shot at the 2018 WOG in cross-country skiing, is a newbie in xc-ski sprinting, and there is little time to prove herself if she is going to grab a spot on the national team for the Pyeongchang Olympics.
All day, she ended up being matched with American Caitlin Gregg, the eventual winner and overall fastest of the bunch.
“I totally surprised myself! she wrote to Skiplus after the race. Sprinting isn’t my forte and I’m so bad at starting quick so I wasn’t sure how it would play out especially without a big uphill to climb.”
First, she qualified 12th in 3:19:09 (+11:41) with no pressure at all since all 21 skiers of the category were moving into the heats.
In the quarters though, there was Gregg (3:11:29) in her heat and Zina managed a somewhat respectable 3:13:59, enough to send her to the semis as a LL (Lucky Loser).
“I tripped up with Caitlyn and fell at the last corner but thankfully we hammered that lap and I made it through to the next heat!”
Gregg was there again in her semis’ heat, along with Maya MacIsaac-Jones, who had just clocked the fastest time of all quarterfinals (3:06:98). She hung on again with a LL time of 3:06:98.
All of this was new to her as she headed to the A Final. Again, Gregg proved to be the fastest in 3:03:36, a good step in front of top Canadian of the day Andrea Dupont (3:05:86) and looka here, in third, Zina Kocher in 3:06:89!
“I took it moment by moment and with some tactics I just went as hard as I could each time. I shocked myself I made it to the A final, and even shocked myself more when I slid into 3rd. Was a lot of fun!”
It seems like Laura Leclair (3:09:47 – but first U23!), Maya (3:09:67) and Sophie Carrier-Laforte (3:11:93), who all had a good day, just lacked a bit of energy in the last stretch.
Sunday will feature a 10 km Free Pursuit. She will definitely be one to watch for. With her experience in biathlon, Zina knows a thing or two ’bout pursuit.
Beware. She can bite!