It’s not everyone who gets to fulfil their dreams. For example my dream of world domination is not going very well at the moment! My second dream of ruling the world of biathlon has been equally unsuccessful! One person who has been lucky enough to fulfil theirs however is Zina Kocher. After being inspired by the Winter Olympics held in Alberta in 1988 she dreamed of competing for Canada at the Games one day. She has done it 3 times.
Like my dream of ruling the world, becoming a professional athlete who is good enough to be selected to compete for your country is not an easy task. In fact it takes a huge amount not just of talent, but also of motivation and determination. Zina Kocher has all 3 three of these in spades! (I do not!)
Zina has a very animal based background. She was born in Red Deer, Alberta on the 5th of December 1982. At age 7 she joined the Jackrabbit cross country ski program and she also killed a bear when she was three. No wait a minute that was Davy Crocket – easy mistake to make! 😉 She took up biathlon at age 15 and after high school moved to Canmore to train with the Rocky Mountain Racers (who disappointingly seem to have no animal connection at all!)
She made the World Junior Team the first year and the rest is history! She has gone on to compete in 3 Olympic Games including a home one in Vancouver and an incredible 11 World Championships. In season 2006/7 she came third in the Individual Race in Oestersund on the World Cup and became the first Canadian to stand on the podium in over a decade.
The best result she achieved in the Olympics was actually this year in Sochi. She came 25th in the Pursuit race there. The Canadian Women’s relay team finished 8th in Sochi which is a great improvement from 17th in Turin and 15th in Vancouver. Zina was in all of these teams and last season saw the Canadian ladies grab an amazing 4th place finish in the relay in Annecy up against some really strong opposition. Along with Rosanna Crawford, Megan Imrie and Megan Heinicke, Zina has helped make the team one to watch out for next season. Although there is a place up for grabs after Mehan Imrie’s retirement.
It’s not just in the relay that the Canadian ladies help each other out though. In 2009 she was part of a nude fundraising calendar called the Bold, Beautiful, Biathlon calendar along with fellow biathletes Megan Tandy, Sandra Keith, Rosanna Crawford and Megan Imrie. As well as raising funds for the biathletes it was a chance for them to promote the image of a healthy athletic body for young girls. What is also impressive is that at the time Kocher was in fact a fully funded biathlete and did it to help her fellow biathletes.
This season will see Zina take part in her 12th World Championships in Kontiolahti. The Canadian team as a whole had a great last season and they will all be looking for further improvement this time around. Their relay teams have realistic chances of winning medals at the Championships and Zina will provide the experience for them. With 3 Olympic Games under her belt already she will be a great help to the Canadian squad as well as wanting to improve her own performances. I don’t know what her plans for the future are but might she go for another Olympics in Pyeonchang – has Kocher got one more round in her maga-Zina? I hope so! It would be amazing to see her at a 4th Games!