Chalk it up to experience.
Emily Dickson's first-ever World Cup biathlon relay was a grind, from start to finish.
The 22-year-old from Burns Lake teamed up with Sarah Beaudry of Prince George, Nadia Moser of Whitehorse, Yukon and Emma Lunder of Vernon to finish 20th out of 23 teams Saturday in the BWM IBU World Cup women's 4 X 6 kilometre relay.
Beaudry took the lead leg and shot well, needing just four reloads to take down 20 targets, but was 2:19.8 behind the leaders when she tagged Dickson, who was also sharp on the range. She cleaned both prone rounds and needed just six reloads to knock down all 10 standing targets, but Canada was 4:25 behind by the time she handed off to Moser.
Moser, who spent the early part of the week in Italy with with Beaudry training for the world championships at a high-altitude camp in Italy and did not race in Thursday's sprint, had a tough day on the range. She took two penalty loops and was lapped by the leaders from Norway, dropping Canada further in the standings by the time Lunder began her race.
Norway (Synnoeve Solemdal, Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold, Marte Olsbu Roeisland) took gold in 1:14:11.6. Sweden (+21.1) won silver and France (+33.1) captured bronze.
Beaudry, Lunder, Moser and Megan Bankes of Canmore, Alta., finished fifth in the relay a month ago in Hochfilzen, Austria, five seconds off the bronze-medal pace. That was the best finish for a Canadian women's relay team since 2013-14, when Megan Tandy of Prince George combined with Zina Kocher, Megan Imrie and Rosanna Crawford for a fourth-place result in Annecy, France.
Meanwhile, in Saturday's 4 X7.5 km men's relay, Canada (Jules Brunotte of Sherbrooke, Que., Scott and Christian Gow of Canmore and Aidan Millar of Canmore) finished 14th out of 26 teams.
Canada, with three penalty loops and 16 reloads, ended up 3:41.2 behind the gold medalists from Norway (Lars Helge Birkeland, Erland Bjoentgaard, Johannes Dale, Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen), who finished the course in 1:19:32.2. France (+4.4) and Germany (+48.2) won silver and bronze respectively.
Canada finished fourth in the relay last month in Hochfilzen.
Lunder, the only Canadian in Sunday's women's 10 km mass start race, placed 15th out of 30, 2:14.8 behind the gold-medal pace of Kaisa Makarainen of Finland. Martin Fourcade of France won the men's 12.5 km mass start event. Lunder qualified as a result of her seventh-place finish in the sprint, her best-ever World Cup finish. Dickson posted a respectable 46th-place result in the first World Cup of her career.
"As you’d probably expect, it was an exciting, nerve-wracking race day," said Dickson, in an email to The Citizen. "The conditions were tough. There was a fair amount of rain and there were times when even if it wasn’t raining, the humidity of the fog made it feel like it might as well have been pouring.
"I started near the back of the pack which allowed me to get a bit of feedback from our support team about those who had already raced (including Lunder), but also meant I was dealing with a slightly more chewed-up race course. Thankfully, our wax techs did a great job on our skis so I was equipped with great gear heading into my own race."
Dickson had just one miss in two shooting bouts, leaving one standing target up.
"I actually felt really calm and relaxed once I began my race," said Dickson. "I didn’t see many other competitors out on course (due to the timing, and the lack of visibility from the fog) so I stayed very focused on my own processes and, knowing the high importance of good shooting results in races on this level, I played it safe and didn’t take any big risks on the shooting range... which, evidently, paid off."
Dickson, who was recently diagnosed with asthma, was delayed in starting her season due to medical concerns.
"Overall I’m pretty happy with my performance, especially given the fact it was my very first World Cup," said Dickson. "That being said, I’m already feeling hungry for more. I felt decent on my skis (Thursday), but I have felt far better in many of my training sessions over the last month, so I am excited to see what kind of performances I can put together throughout the rest of the season."
Ruhpolding, Germany is hosting World Cup races this weekend. Dickson will be in Bresno-Osrblie, Slovenia this week for IBU Cup races.