I for one was quite surprised when Jean-Philippe Le Guellec won last season’s opening Sprint race in Oestersund. Not because of JP winning, because he has always had the potential to do it, but because he was the first Canadian man to stand on the podium let alone win a race at the World Cup.
Canada is well known for Winter Sports especially their impressive alpine skiing team so you would have thought they would have had a few more successes since Myriam Bedard won double Olympic gold in 1994. The truth is though that biathlon is a sport traditionally dominated by Europeans and in fact Canada only boasts one other athlete, Zina Kocher, who has reached the podium. Coincidentally she did this in Oestersund too finishing 3rd in the Individual in 2006.
However the North Americans are fighting back with Tim Burke’s silver medal in Nove Mesto and JP’s debut win. They are progressing slowly but surely and hopefully will challenge the traditional biathlon giants like Norway, Russia and Germany this season.
Le Guellec was born on the 31st of July 1985 in Kingston, Canada and grew up in Quebec making him fluent in English and French. He started doing biathlon at the age of 13 in the Canadian Royal Air Cadet Movement and after 2 years Daniel Lefebvre recruited him to race in the civilian program. He began competing in biathlon in 1999 and joined the national team in 2003. He enjoyed a successful junior career winning 3 medals at the Junior World Championships. He has competed in 2 Olympic Games and was obviously inspired by his home Games in Vancouver where he finished a creditable 6th in the Sprint, his highest finish in that event at the time.
He started to make his presence felt in the 2008/9 season where he finished in the Top 10 twice and finished a career high 32nd in the Total Score. Despite his first win last season he finished a slightly lower 35th overall. He did however finish in the Top 40 of every discipline last year and helped Canada to 16th spot in the Nation’s Cup.
So what about this season for JP? Well not resting on his laurels he has been training with a Swedish cross-country sprint specialist on his ski technique. This is in an effort to better his efficiency, power and fluidity on skis. In July he headed to Canmore to an annual test to see if all the new training has paid off. Without going into detail I am happy to report that both his skiing and shooting have shown a marked improvement. With a decent summer of training behind him JP looks like he will be heading into next season in good shape.
So can he be the first Canadian man to win a medal at the Sochi Olympics? Well he is a good outside bet for a podium in at least one of the events and he has had his best results so far in the Sprint. CAN he do it? Let’s hope so! It would be great for Canadian and North American biathlon if he could!
Have a look at JP’s website in English and French: http://www.jpleguellec.biz/en/home.php
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