Canadian Para-Nordic Team Celebrates Triple Medal Day at World Championships
OESTERSUND, Swe.— Canada’s Para Nordic Team battled through cold weather and a punishing course to climb onto the podium three times on Sunday, adding two silvers and a bronze medal to their early haul on the opening weekend of the 2023 World Championships.
Natalie Wilkie (Salmon Arm, B.C.) and Brittany Hudak (Prince Albert, Sask.) took two spots on the women’s podium for the second straight day, claiming the silver and bronze respectively. Collin Cameron (Bracebridge, Ont.) backed up his first World Championship biathlon title with a silver medal of his own in the cross-country sit ski distance race.
“Conditions were pretty decent today. It was really cold, but our team had good grip on the hills,” said the 22-year-old Wilkie who won her first World Championship biathlon medal on Saturday, taking the gold in the short distance race. “18 kilometres was definitely long, but today was all about consistency and not going out too hard. I think we nailed it.”
The team sure did. Wilkie clocked a time of 57:42.1 in her six laps around the 3-kilometre loop for second place. Wilkie wasn’t about to go to the podium without her fellow Canadian comrade in the women’s standing event.
“When I caught up to Britt (Hudak), I tried to tow her for a bit, and she got my draft which was really fun to work together like that on the course. Super awesome we got to share the podium again today,” added Wilkie.
Skiing steady, strong and confident, the 29-year-old Hudak powered her way to third spot at 59:39.0 in the women’s individual start classic-ski race.
“I focused on skiing a smart at a pace I knew I could maintain. With lots of climbing, I knew it was going to build so I tried to keep a steady rhythm. We had great skis and definitely the best cheer squad out there,” said Hudak, who is enjoying the Swedish test.
“There are lots of steady uphills and fun downhills that have corners you want to be pushing around carrying speed. I like the courses that make you think about tactics and racing smart.”
Norway’s Vilde Nilsen finished on top of the Canucks with a winning time of 56:22.9.
Collin Cameron enjoyed a silver medal Sunday despite waking up with a cold. The two-time Paralympian hammered the hills and his tactics to clock a second-place time of 53:33.5.
“It was a tough one today,” said Cameron, who considered not starting.
“I opted to just go for the race and see what happens instead of not starting and risk getting sick anyways. I’m really happy with how I was able to manage my energy for such a long race in really cold conditions and get on the podium again.”
Cameron finished behind Italy’s Giuseppe Romele who set the golden pace at 50:17.3.
Pavlo Bal, of the Ukraine, skied to the bronze medal at 54:23.2.
Canada’s Christina Picton was the only other Canadian to start on Sunday. The former women’s Para Ice Hockey ace finished just off the podium pace, stopping the clock at 1:10:44.6 for fourth.
Kendall Gretsch, of the United States, women’s sit-ski category for the second straight day with a time of 1:02:32.8.
The Para Nordic World Championships resume on Tuesday with the cross-country skate-ski sprint races.