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      October 10, 2017

      kocher-zina-100223-1180.jpg
      After three Olympic appearances as a biathlete, Zina Kocher has her sights set on honouring her late coach by reaching a fourth — this time as a cross-country skier. (Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images)


      For sheer fun, Zina Kocher signed up for the 2017 Canadian Cross-Country Ski Nationals in her hometown of Canmore, Alta.

      Kocher is a three-time Olympian in biathlon, which combines rifle shooting with cross-country skiing.

      After retiring from the sport in 2016, she simply saw the cross-country nationals as a welcome distraction from her full-time studies in massage therapy at Mount Royal University in Calgary.

      Still in phenomenal physical shape, she won gold in the women's five-kilometre skate ski race and then silver in the 30-kilometre skate ski.

      Those two unexpected medals got her thinking: Why not come out of retirement in hopes of qualifying as a cross-country skier for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea?

      What did she have to lose?

      "My coach Richard Boruta thought it was a great idea for me to give it a try," says Kocher, 34. "He thought it would be a really fun challenge and that I had a good chance, especially after taking time away from sport."

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