Alberta’s Scott Gow and Quebec’s Audrey Vaillancourt Strike Gold in Biathlon at Canada Winter Games

HALIFAX—Alberta’s Scott Gow and Quebec’s Audrey Vaillancourt captured the first two gold medals of the biathlon competition at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax on Sunday.

The 20-year-old Gow led a podium sweep by Alberta in the men’s 15-kilometre individual biathlon event. The Calgarian, who finished ninth at the World Junior Championships in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic last week, led the nation’s top young biathletes around the Ski Martock layout, posting a time of 40 minutes 33.9 seconds.

“My goal was to come here and get on the podium every race so I am happy I was able to win today,” said Gow, who missed just two shots in his four rounds of shooting on a windy and chilly day on the range. “I felt good all day and it is nice to see three Alberta guys on the podium.”

Gow, who was Alberta’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremonies, was joined on the podium by fellow Calgarians Stuart Harden, and younger brother Christian in the silver and bronze medal positions respectively. All members of Canada’s Youth and Junior World Championship squad, the 16-year-old Harden missed just one shot on the range to finish with a time of 42:16.0, while the 17-year-old Gow locked up third spot with a time of 43:29.0.

“I would much rather have beaten him (Scott), but it is pretty cool to share the podium with my brother,” said Christian. “I have a few more races to try to get him, but I think the experience we all had last week at the World Juniors really helped us prepare for today and it is great to sweep the podium.”

While the Alberta men owned the men’s podium, it was the eastern blue and white team from Quebec that dominated the women’s 12.5-kilometre individual competition.

Audrey Vaillancourt stomped the field to win the women’s event with a time of 39:31.1. The 20-year-old Vaillancourt finished nearly three minutes ahead of her Quebec-based teammate who fired her way to the silver medal with a time of 42:15.0. Sarah Beaudry, of British Columbia, prevented a podium sweep by Quebec when she finished third at 45:31.8.

The individual event is the longest of the biathlon competitions. The individual puts an emphasis on shooting with athletes being charged a one-minute penalty for every missed shot.

The biathlon events continue on Tuesday with the sprint competitions.

Biathlon Canada, the governing body for biathlon in the country, oversees the Canadian Championships, Eastern and Western Canadian Championships, and North American Cups held in Canada. The organization’s mandate is to provide national level programs for the continuous development of biathlon athletes from the grassroots to the elite level. For more information on Biathlon Canada, please visit their Web site at www.biathloncanada.ca on the Internet.

Complete Results: www.canadagames2011.ca

Top-Five Men’s Results:

1.Scott Gow, Alberta, 40:33.9; 2. Stuart Harden, Alberta, 42:16.0; 3. Christian Gow, Alberta, 43:29.0; 4. Samuel Laforest-Jean, Quebec, 46:00.4; 5. Aaron Neumann, British Columbia, 46:55.5.

Top-Five Women’s Results:

1. Audrey Vaillancourt, Quebec, 39:31.1; 2. Rose-Marie Cote, Quebec, 42:15.0; 3. Sarah Beaudry, British Columbia, 45:31.8; 4. Julia Ransom, British Columbia, 45:45.7; 5. Danielle Vrielink, Alberta, 46:04.2.

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