Media Release

Canada’s Para-Nordic Athletes Open World Cup Season with Four Medal Haul in Finland

December 10, 2022

VUOKATTI, Fin.—Canada’s Para-Nordic Ski Team got the new Paralympic quadrennial off to a medal-winning start, combining to win four medals at the season-opener in Vuokatti, Finland.

The Canadian squad racked up a hat trick of silver medals in the five-kilometre classic-ski races led by Paralympic medallists, Natalie Wilkie (Salmon Arm, B.C.), and Collin Cameron (Bracebridge, Ont.).

Christina Picton (Fonthill, Ont.) and Lyne-Marie Bilodeau (Magog, Que.) celebrated their first career podiums. Picton rocketed to the silver while Bilodeau locked up the bronze.

It was a dream start to the season for Picton and Bilodeau after putting down the race of their lives in the women’s sit-ski classification.

The 29-year-old Picton, a former standout out women’s Para-ice hockey player, stormed to the silver medal with a time of 18:09.8.

“The race was really good. I was happy with how I executed my plan and had excellent skis,” said Picton. “It was special getting the chance to share the podium with Lyne-Marie, and then to see our other teammates also reach the podium.”

Making steady progression in her development since joining the Para-Nordic program at the beginning of the last quadrennial, the youngest member of the Canadian program, Lyne-Marie Bilodeau, also enjoyed a breakthrough performance.

Building from her first Paralympic experience one year ago, Bilodeau clocked-in at 19:28.1 for the bronze medal.

“This is incredible,” beamed the 21-year-old. “I am very happy with my performance. I didn’t expect to have a medal here in Finland.”

The Canadian duo finished behind Germany’s Anja Wicker who claimed top spot with a time of 15:36.9.

Picton and Bilodeau are core pieces of a new era for the Canadian Para-Nordic Team that has a new leadership group of Mark Arendz, Natalie Wilkie and Collin Cameron.

Two-time Paralympians, Wilkie and Cameron, both snagged silver medals to start the new trail to Milano/Cortina 2026.

Wilkie, also 21, powered her way to second place and a time of 16:55.6 in the women’s standing classification.

“My focus today was on skiing technically well and following my race plan, so earning the silver medal was the cherry on top,” said Wilkie, who won seven Paralympic medals in her two trips to the Games. “The team pulled together some great results today, fighting through some challenging grip in greasy snow conditions.”

Wilkie finished just over 30 seconds behind race winner, Vilde Nilsen. The Norwegian posted a time of 16:21.6.  Ukraine’s Liudmyla Liashenko was third at 17:23.1.

Brittany Hudak, of Prince Albert, Sask., skied shy of the podium in fourth at 17:32.8.

Collin Cameron skied a steady and controlled race en route to claiming the silver in the men’s sit-ski classification.

The 34-year-old took advantage of fast boards to clock a second-place time of 13:36.8.

“It was a nice way to start the season. I always enjoy racing here in Vuokatti. The wax team gave us really great skis all around today,” said Cameron. “I want to keep building some fitness with these races here with my main focus on World Championships in January.

“Awesome racing from our entire team today, and I’m super proud of Christina and Lyne-Marie for both achieving their first podiums.”

Italy’s Giuseppe Romele topped Cameron with a time of 13:05.2. Brazil’s Cristian Westemaier Ribera was third at 13:41.6.

Derek Zaplotinsky, of Smoky Lake, Alta., was 11th at 14:37.7. Ethan Hess (Whistler, B.C.) placed 13th at 15:22.5.

The beginning of a new era is underway for Canada’s Para-Nordic Team with athletes like Cameron and Wilkie taking leadership roles in a program that is now being guided by a new coaching staff in Brian McKeever, Bjorn Taylor, Menno Arendz and Graham Nishikawa.

“There were definitely some cobwebs and pre-race jitters to shake out for all of us today, but I think overall, the athletes, coaches and wax techs all had a great start to the World Cup season,” said Wilkie.

The Para-Nordic World Cup resumes on Sunday in Vuokatti with the skate-ski sprint races.

Complete Para-Nordic World Cup Vuokatti Results:

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