By Martin Cleary
University of Ottawa biathlete Shilo Rousseau arrived at her first FISU World Winter University Games just for the experience of being part of the largest intercollegiate sports festival in the world.
But in a period of only six days, she has an entirely different view of the Lake Placid Games in New York and has become one of the most highly decorated athletes on snow and ice.
Rousseau continued to ski with power and shoot with precision on Thursday as she won her second gold medal and third medal overall, which put her in the Team Canada history books.
By winning the women’s 10-kilometre pursuit, Rousseau set the record for the most medals won in a single FISU World Winter University Games by a Canadian athlete.
“It’s crazy,” an overwhelmed Rousseau said, after her exhausting ski-and-shoot performance. “I didn’t know how I’d do. I came for the experience. It’s a great event. I’m so happy as things have turned out better than I imagined.”
Rousseau won the 10-kilometre pursuit in 32 minutes, 24.4 seconds and finished 40.1 seconds ahead of runner-up Anna Nedza-Kubiniec of Poland, who stopped in 33:04.5. Poland’s Barbara Skrobiszewska earned the bronze medal in 33:39.3.
University of Ottawa’s Zoe Pekos of Richmond Hill, ON., was 11th in 34:59.5. She hit all five targets in each of the first three stations and had two misses in her final standing shots.
The only athletes to have a slightly higher medal ranking than Rousseau with three competition days remaining are long-track speed skaters Kazuya Yamada of Japan with two gold and two silver, and Minsun Kim of Korea with three gold.
Rousseau was in second place after the first two loops on Thursday, but she accelerated her pace in the second half and was the leader following the third and fourth loops. On the shooting range, she hit 17 of 20 targets from the standing and prone positions.
Earlier, Rousseau opened the biathlon program on Saturday with a surprise victory in the 12.5-kilometre short individual race and added a silver medal on Wednesday in the 7.5-kilometre sprint, finishing 24.1 seconds behind Nedza-Kubiniec.
Rousseau will chase her fourth medal on Saturday as the biathlon program ends for the women with the 12.5-kilometre mass start.
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Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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