ÖSTERLAND, SWEDEN – Four members of the Canadian Para Nordic team will be returning home with medals after a successful day at the World Championships.
Natalie Wilkie and Collin Cameron each won gold, while Brittany Hudak and Mark Arendz picked up silver at the international event in Östersund, Sweden.
Wilkie earned her top place finish hitting nine of 10 shots in the 7.5-kilometre women’s biathlon 7.5km sprint standing competition in a time of 22:43.5. The 22-year-old, who dominated at the 2022 Paralympic Games and collected seven medals in her two Games, said she’s becoming more at ease when competing.
“The difference for me in biathlon this year has been taking myself less seriously when I race,” said Wilkie in a media release. “I used to get very stressed out in the range, so this year I’ve been trying to shift my mindset to see shooting as something more fun than stressful.
“Now I tell myself the range is just a place I get to take a break in the middle of the race to hit some targets.”
Cameron took top spot in the men’s 7.5km sprint sitting event for his first biathlon title at the World Championship. Cameron, 34, missed only one of 10 shots and had a time of 24:10.0 – which was 40 seconds ahead of the next closest competitor.
“That was so unexpected. I didn’t even know that I won when I crossed the line,” said Cameron in a media release. “I was getting splits from the coaches but wasn’t sure if there were other athletes I was behind still after those splits, so I just kept pushing. I crossed the line and said, ‘did I just win?’
“It is such a great feeling to get my first biathlon win and to have it here at Worlds is amazing.”
For Cameron, the win had an added emotional aspect, with his father having recently passed away.
“It has been a really tough start to the year with the sudden passing of my father and flying home last minute for a couple of days before coming to Sweden,” he said. “Today’s race will always be a special one for me and I’m proud I was able to get a win here for my dad.”
🥇🥇🥈🥈 to start off the World Championships!— Kate Boyd (@Kate_Boyd5) January 21, 2023
GOLD - Natalie Wilkie and Collin Cameron
SILVER - Brittany Hudak and Mark Arendz
Christina Picton 4th; Derek Zaplotinsky 6th.@NordiqCanada @CDNParalympics pic.twitter.com/pSkZKMWIR9
Hudak earned silver in the 7.5km sprint standing biathlon were a perfect round on the shooting range and ended at 23:14.2. She placed second behind Wilkie.
The 29-year-old said she felt the day went well with her “rocket fast skis.”
“The first race always gets the nerves going but after seeing the great races from the sit skiers in the morning. I was excited to race,” she said in a release.
Arendz picked up his 10th world championship podium spot in the biathlon when he finished in a time of 20:03.1, just three seconds off first place. Arendz missed a pair of shots – which for standing athletes means an extra 150-metre penalty loop for each one – while Germany’s Marco Maier missed one to claim gold.
“It was a very close finish. The speed I had on the final lap made it possible to challenge for the title despite some trouble on the range,” said Arendz in a release. “That speed gives me the confidence going forward into the remaining races at Worlds.”
Derek Zaplotinsky placed sixth in the men’s 7.5km sprint sitting and Christina Picton was fourth in the women’s 7.5km spring sitting competition.
For a full list of results, visit: www.fis-ski.com/DB/general/event-details.html?sectorcode=PBT&eventid=52694&seasoncode=2023