Beijing 2022 Day 3 Recap: History made on six-medal day for Canadian Paralympic Team
– Lisa DeJong, Tyler Turner win Canada’s first-ever Para snowboard medals
– Paralympic legend Brian McKeever and Natalie Wilkie take gold, Brittany Hudak bronze in cross country
– Alana Ramsay becomes Canada’s first multi-medallist of the Games
Beijing, March 7, 2022 – The Canadian national anthem was played three times at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games on Monday, as the country’s medal total reached 12. The third day of competition saw the Canadian Paralympic Team win its first-ever medals in the sport of Para snowboard, earn three podiums including two gold in cross country, have its first multi-medallist following Alana Ramsay’s second bronze, and go 1-1 in wheelchair curling play.
MEDALS WON ON MARCH 7
GOLD – Brian McKeever (with guide Russell Kennedy), Para Nordic Skiing (Cross Country), Men’s Vision Impaired Long Distance
GOLD – Natalie Wilkie, Para Nordic Skiing (Cross Country), Women’s Standing Long Distance
GOLD – Tyler Turner, Para Snowboard, Men’s SB-LL1 Snowboard Cross
SILVER – Lisa DeJong, Para Snowboard, Women’s SB-LL2 Snowboard Cross
BRONZE – Brittany Hudak, Para Nordic Skiing (Cross Country), Women’s Standing Long Distance
BRONZE – Alana Ramsay, Para Alpine Skiing, Women’s Standing Super Combined
OVERALL MEDAL TOTAL
Para Nordic Skiing – Cross Country
Make that 18 career Paralympic medals and 14 gold for the legendary Brian McKeever, Canada’s most decorated Winter Paralympian. In his first event of the Beijing Games, the now six-time Paralympian proved he is still the best of the best, winning the men’s vision impaired 20km long distance race for the fourth consecutive Games – and with time to spare. McKeever and guide Russell Kennedy finished in 55:36.7 to claim gold, more than three minutes ahead of the silver medallists.
“Most of our days all year are spent doing the hard work. This (racing at the Paralympics) is the proof – the end of the job,” said McKeever. “On these days we just try to have our best, but the reality of sport is you can have your best day and sometimes still lose. If that is the case, then somebody else was just better. You can never predict where you finish. You just try to have a really good day, and say that was the best we could do, and today we did.”
Natalie Wilkie took control of the women’s 15km cross country race a third of the way through, and was easily best in class on the day in taking the gold medal. The 21-year-old, who won three medals in her Paralympic debut four years ago, finished with a time of 48:04.8. She was sixth in this event in PyeongChang.
“It feels pretty unreal. I went into this race trying to not think about the end result, just focusing on the process and skiing as well as I could,” said Wilkie. “So I was completely surprised when my coaches started yelling the splits at me, you’re in the lead by 20 seconds, 28 seconds, 30 seconds, and it just kept building from there. I tried not to let it get to my head because I knew it was only partway through the race. I just focused on myself and my skiing and tried to do the best I could and at the end of the day that was good enough to get me a gold medal.”
She shares the podium with teammate Brittany Hudak, who captured bronze for her second career Paralympic medal and first in cross country. Emily Young was fifth to round out a fantastic showing for Canada in the race.
“My first cross country medal at the Games, it’s such a surreal feeling,” said Hudak. “It’s honestly such a great feeling knowing all of us girls have worked so hard these last couple years. Having such great teamwork has clearly paid off for us. Emily being just off the podium as well, me and Natalie getting the splits off each other, I think it just shows that we’ve put in the work together and that we truly are stronger together, and we’re all better athletes for it. It’s such an amazing day to get to share the podium with Natalie.”
In the men’s standing 20km race, Mark Arendz just missed the podium with a fourth place.
With the three medals on Monday, Canada has also now hit the 50-medal total mark in Para nordic skiing through the history of the Paralympic Winter Games.
Competing in the snowboard cross, Canada’s two Paralympic rookies created history for Canada in their sport.
First, Lisa DeJong took a superb silver in the women’s SB-LL2 class to claim Canada’s first-ever Para snowboard medal. After breezing through the quarterfinal and semifinal runs, DeJong crossed the finish line in the four-rider final in second, to match the same medal she won in this discipline at the world championships in January.
“Winning Canada’s first Paralympic medal in snowboarding is absolutely amazing,” said DeJong. “For me it was quite unexpected, just making it into the big final I felt like I had come so far. Getting a silver was just absolutely incredible, I am so happy to have made Canadian history.”
And it didn’t take long before Canada had its first gold, courtesy of SB-LL1 competitor Tyler Turner. After becoming world champion in this event less than two months ago, he is shining even brighter as the best in his field and can now be called Paralympic champion. He finished first in each of the playoff rounds leading into the big final, where he jumped out to the lead once again with no competitor able to challenge him.
“It hasn’t quite set in yet, I don’t think it will until tomorrow,” said Turner. “It’s pretty amazing, I’m super grateful for this whole experience, it’s incredible.”
Both DeJong and Turner have rocketed to the top of their sport, having made their respective World Cup circuit debuts in the past year.
Sandrine Hamel finished eighth in the women’s SB-LL2 while Alex Massie was sixth overall in the men’s SB-LL2. Massie was leading his semifinal and looked to be on his way to the final when he just hit an edge, which was enough to lose his momentum and he was overtaken at the end.
Para snowboard made its Paralympic debut in 2014 and prior to today the country’s best finish was fourth place. All four Canadians will return on Saturday for the banked slalom.
Para Alpine Skiing
Alana Ramsay is Canada’s first multi-medallist of Beijing 2022, claiming her second bronze in as many days. The women’s standing skier took home third place in the super combined, adding to her Super-G podium from a day ago. She was one of the most consistent skiers on the day. With the fourth-best times in both the morning’s Super-G and afternoon’s slalom, her combined total put her in third by just under two seconds.
Ramsay matches her result from 2018, where she also twice stood on the third step of the podium, and in the same disciplines. She now holds four career Paralympic medals.
“I’m excited about how I skied today. It’s really cool to be standing on the podium again. It proves that all the hard work I’ve done in the past three years have been for this moment,” said Ramsay.
In the men’s vision impaired category, Logan Leach and guide Julien Petit finished the super combined in sixth.
Team Canada is now 4-1 following the halfway mark of round-robin action at the Games. The squad – featuring Mark Ideson, Ina Forrest, Dennis Thiessen, Jon Thurston and alternate Collinda Joseph – opened the day with a controlling 7-4 triumph over USA to put themselves at 4-0.
They were then handed their first defeat of the tournament so far, falling 6-3 to Sweden in a closely-fought game. Canada remains atop the leaderboard.
“Coming into it, if someone said you could be 4-1 after five games, we would have been really happy with that,” said Ideson. “I don’t think this is going to take the wind out of our sails at all. If anything, it might actually boost us up and get us focused on the next game.”
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About the Canadian Paralympic Team: A total of 48 athletes are competing for Canada in five sports at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, taking place March 4-13.
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