'Barely' making ends meet

SHAWN LOGAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

Already blessed with brains and brawn, Canada's national biathlon squad will be going in the buff to promote the sport and raise funds for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Five of Canada's top female biathletes roller skied along chilly Stephen Avenue Mall yesterday clad only in shorts and running bibs in an effort to stir up some buzz for their nude calendar: Bold Beautiful Biathlon.

Red Deer's Zina Kocher, who captured Canada's first biathlon medal in a decade at the 2006 World Cup, said the sport is still overlooked compared to Europe, so disrobing to drum up awareness and funds wasn't a hard sell.

"We have a year and a half until the 2010 Olympics and we want Canadians to know what biathlon is and get the word out," she said.

"There was a lot of nervous excitement about it, but we were all comfortable with it and the basis for it is really to promote a healthy active lifestyle."

Kocher said despite the success of double Olympic gold medallist Myriam Bedard in the 1990s, the sport that features cross-country skiing and rifle shooting has struggled to get corporate sponsorship and is looking for alternative ways to raise cash.

The team followed the trail blazed by Olympic heroes Sara Renner and Beckie Scott who produced a similar calendar in 2001, parlaying the support into a cross-country gold medal for Scott in Salt Lake City in 2002 and a silver for the pair at the 2006 Games.

Rosanna Crawford of Canmore said it was a bit of a departure for athletes used to bundling up, but she can't think of a better way to get the squad's message out.

"I'm usually fully dressed head to toe in hats and toques and gloves because it's cold out there in the winter," she said. Joining Kocher and Crawford in doffing the normal uniform of parkas, toques and mittens are Calgary's Sandra Keith, Megan Imrie of Falcon Lake, Man., and Megan Tandy of Prince George, B.C.

Visit www.boldbeautifulbiathlon.com for more.


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