Canada's Nathan Smith etched his name into the history books with an unexpected podium finish in the men's 10-kilometre sprint race at the biathlon world championship on Saturday in Finland.
With a second-place time, the Calgary native became the first Canadian man to earn a medal at a biathlon worlds.
“It is just surreal,” Smith said. “I had a strong relay earlier in the week so I had good feelings about today, but never expected to do this at all.”
Two-time Olympic gold medallist Myriam Bédard was the first Canadian woman to accomplish the same feat when she claimed a gold and silver in world championship action in 1993.
The silver medallist was not among the favourites heading into the event, but took advantage when many skiers struggled to shoot clean. Blustery conditions had only two athletes come away without faults.
“It was windy so I knew good shooting could be the difference today,” Smith said.
“The snow conditions were much better than earlier in the week. To get on the podium is a combination of a fast time and a bit of luck. It felt hard skiing today, but I just kept fighting. I did ski well and it is just amazing.”
The 29-year-old continues to shatter expectations. Smith reached a career-best finish exactly a month ago when he came in fifth in a World Cup race in the Czech Republic.
Norway's Johannes Thingnes Boe finished a narrow 12.1 seconds ahead of Smith with a time of 24 minutes, 12.8 seconds. Both competitors missed one of ten shots.
The bronze medal went to the brother of Saturday's gold medallist, Tarjei Boe, who is a former overall World Cup champion.
“Many of these top guys are regularly on the podium, but I realized over the last little while they are not gods. They are super talented people, but I knew I can be there with them,” Smith said about his tough competition.
“It is awesome to be on the podium. I definitely felt it was a matter of time, but I didn’t expect to do it at world championships.”