Biathlon

Greg Hughes - Sunday Feb. 9, 2014 08:40 ET

Zina Kocher sets sights on biathlon success

Three-time Olympian leads Canada in today's 7.5K sprint

Zina Kocher
Zina Kocher leads Canada into a tough 7.5K biathlon race on Sunday. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Canada’s Zina Kocher heads into the women's biathlon 7.5-kilometre sprint on Sunday with some big expectations on her shoulders (9:30 a.m. ET, streaming at cbc.ca/olympics).

Sochi is Kocher’s third Winter Olympics and probably her best chance yet to land on the podium. After several previous career setbacks, including a near-career ending slipped disc in her lower back, she’s leading Canada in a mixed relay race later in the Sochi Games.

Kocher of Red Deer, Alta., is joined in Sunday’s race by fellow Canadians Rosanna Crawford of Canmore, Alta., Megan Imrie, of Falcon Lake, Man., and Megan Heinicke of Prince George, B.C.

Scandinavian, European nations rule

Norway has been overwhelmingly dominant in biathlon over the years. World champion Tora Berger is a threat in Sunday's 7.5 km race. She’s in a strong position to take gold ,but will have to contend with Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen.

Vancouver 2010’s gold medalist in the sprint,  Anastasiya Kuzmina — a native of Russia but competing for Slovakia in Sochi — is also a potential candidate to reach the podium today.

Germany’s Andrea Henkel, attending her fourth Winter Olympics and four-time medallist in biathlon events, has also had a strong World Cup season and could reach the podium.

The most interesting angle to today’s race is a dark-horse candidate for a medal coming from one of the least likely places: Switzerland. 

A country known more for its alpine success than anything else,  Selina Gasparin is a real possibility to medal today. She’s been an upstart on the World Cup circuit this season and could threaten for a place on the podium on Sunday. 

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