Sharp Shooting Canucks Snipe Biathlon Silver and Bronze at Beijing Paralympics
BEIJING, Chn—Mark Arendz completed his Paralympic medal collection from Beijing by adding a silver, while Brittany Hudak sniped the bronze medal in the men’s and women’s individual biathlon competitions on Friday.
Arendz (Hartsville, P.E.I) rocketed to his 11th career Paralympic medal with a second-place time of 40:13.0 in the challenging conditions that did allow for more glide than the previous two races as temperatures dropped in the region.
“The medals mean that I’ve been consistent and that is definitely is the key to biathlon,” said Arendz, who lost his left arm during an accident on the family farm when he was seven. “I’ve been able to balance my strength in skiing and shooting, and I think that really shows by having a medal of each colour in all three events.”
It was the third biathlon medal off the Games for the 32-year-old Arendz. He won the gold in the middle-distance event, and the bronze in the sprint race.
“I think today was my strongest race so far based on feel. I had the small lapse in focus in the one bout, but even after the mistake (missing one shot) I skied myself back into the silver. The guys gave me great skis today for the tougher conditions,” he said.
Friday’s 12.5-kilometre test put a premium on shooting, with one-minute penalties doled out for each missed shot. Arendz missed just the one shot in his four stops at the range where he took aim at five targets each time.
“Consistency is the goal of the sport and I have developed that over the years with my experience,” said Arendz. “I’m confident enough in my shooting that I didn’t put extra pressure on myself. Even after the one miss I refused to have any more misses. Daviet was just the better guy today.”
Benjamin Daviet, of France, shot clean to win the men’s standing classification with a time of 37:58.9. Grygorii Vovchynskyi, of the Ukraine, finished just back of Arendz in the bronze-medal position at 42:26.0 after going 19 for 20 on the shooting range.
Another small-town Canadian skied onto the podium at the Zhangjaikou National Biathlon Centre on Friday. Brittany Hudak, of Prince Albert, Sask., bolted to the bronze medal in the women’s 12.5-kilometre individual event. Hudak clocked-in at 49:03.4.
“I started the race a little more controlled knowing I wanted to shoot clean, but when I had my first miss, I knew I had to ski harder. I then had a second miss, but I was still happy with my ski speed and that kept me motivated throughout the race,” said the 28-year-old Hudak. “To get on the podium with two misses in this race is a great day for me.”
It was the third Paralympic medal for the 28-year-old flatlander – all bronze. Hudak was third earlier this week in the 15-kilometre classic cross-country ski race. She became the first Canadian woman in the standing classification to win a Paralympic medal in the individual biathlon competition when she finished third in 2018 PyeongChang.
“I’ve felt better with each race that I’ve done this week,” added Hudak, who was invited to join Canada’s Para-Nordic Ski Team in 2013 after meeting legendary sit-skier, Colette Bourgonje, at a Canadian Tire store where she worked in her hometown.
“My ski speed has come up after doing some harder races, so I had confidence coming into today with my skiing but was slightly nervous for the shooting part knowing there is a minute added to your time for every miss. I controlled the pace and then just went for it at the end because I knew I needed to ski hard.”
Liudmyla Liashenko, of the Ukraine, finished on top of the pack with a golden time of 47:22.0 despite two misses in shooting. China’s Zhiqing Zhao won the silver with one miss, stopping the clock at 48:06.3.
Emily Young (North Vancouver) also shot 19 out of 20 for sixth place and a time of 49:55.3.
Collin Cameron (Bracebridge, Ont.) came up one spot short of the podium in the men’s sit-ski individual biathlon race. Cameron, who has two bronze medals this week, missed one in shooting to clock a fourth-place time of 40:35.6.
Derek Zaplotinsky (Smoky Lake, Alta.) placed 10th at 43:45.2 with two misses.
Christina Picton (Fonthill, Ont.) was perfect on the range for the second-straight race putting her in seventh with a time of 47:51.9 in the women’s sit-ski category.
Canada’s medal tally at the Nordic venue heading into the final weekend is now up to 11. Canada has now won 56 nordic medals in the history of the Paralympic Winter Games.
The full Canadian contingent will be back on the start line Saturday in Zhangjaikou for the middle distance, free technique, cross-country ski races.
Check out CBC’s streaming and TV viewing guide to catch all of the Para-Nordic action in Beijing.