Collin Cameron and Natalie Wilkie lead four-medal day for Canada’s Para-Nordic athletes in Finland
VUOKATTI, Fin.— Canada’s Para-Nordic athletes continued their podium pursuit at the World Cup in Vuokatti, Finland, adding four more medals on a challenging Wednesday to bring their weekly haul to 15.
Collin Cameron (Bracebridge, Ont.) and Natalie Wilkie (Salmon Arm, B.C.) led the way for the Canucks with silver medals in the women’s and men’s 10-kilometre individual-start classic-ski races. Lyne-Marie Bilodeau, (Magog, Que.) added her second World Cup medal of her career, claiming the bronze, while Brittany Hudak (Prince Albert, Sask.) snagged her first cross-country ski podium this season with a bronze of her own.
The 34-year-old Cameron continues to be a force each time he hits the start line for the men’s sit-ski races. Feeding off gold and silver-medal performances earlier in the week, the six-time Paralympic medallist powered is way around the four loops of the Vuokatti Nordic venue that was blanketed in fresh snow to clock a second-place time of 26:28.5.
“The course was quite slow with the early snow, and it got colder as the morning went on,” said Cameron. “The course is also a bit challenging because it is an out-and-back loop on a fairly long climb.”
The experience of the Paralympic veteran was on full display while navigating his way through the very narrow trail.
“My goal today was to just pace the hills well and try to be very mindful of where other athletes are,” said Cameron. “There are lots of places where you just can’t pass competitors or ski side-by-side because there is literally no room. It was all about pace and racing smart. I’m really happy to be on the podium again.”
Cameron finished behind Italy’s Giuseppe Romele who set the time to beat at 26:28.5 in the deepest race classification in Vuokatti. Yerbol Khamitov, of Kazakhstan, skied to third place at 28:14.1.
Development skier, Ethan Hess of Pemberton, B.C., had one of his strongest performances on the World Cup, placing 10th with a time of 32:05.0.
Two Canadians shared in the celebration, finishing on the sides of the women’s 10-kilometre classic-ski podium.
Natalie Wilkie grabbed her fourth medal of the week, and third silver in the cross-country skiing disciplines. The 21-year-old skied to a second-place pace throughout the 10-kilometre jaunt, stopping the clock at 34:44.5.
“It was another good day for me, and everything lined up for a great race: good conditions, fast skis, ideal grip wax,” said Wilkie. “I feel that I’m skiing with more confidence at the World Cup level and getting more consistent race results than in years past.”
It was the 15th World Cup podium for the two-time Paralympian in just five years competing on the Para-Nordic World Cup. A winner of seven Paralympic medals, Wilkie also has two World Championship podiums to her credit. She also won her first career biathlon competition on Tuesday.
Brittany Hudak also found the women’s standing podium for the second-straight day, skiing to the bronze medal with a time of 35:16.2. Hudak finished second to Wilkie yesterday in the 12.5-kilometre biathlon event in Vuokatti – a race she also finished third at in the last two Paralympic Games.
Norway’s Vilde Nilsen edged the Canadians out for top spot on the podium, winning with a time of 34:17.8.
The trail to the podium continued for the Canucks in the women’s sit-ski race. Lyne-Marie Bilodeau captured her second medal of the week, and her career. The 21-year-old, who was third in the season-opener, was back on the bronze-medal position of the podium Wednesday.
Bilodeau nailed her race plan, starting conservative and building momentum throughout each lap. She finished with a time of 40:05.9.
Germany’s Anja Wicker continued her dominance of the women’s sit-ski races, setting a golden time of 33:03.9. Korea’s Yunji Kim was second at 39:29.9.
Jesse Bachinsky (Kenora, Ont.) and his guide, Levi Nadlersmith (Boissevain, Man.) teamed up for a seventh-place finish in the men’s visually impaired classification, completing the test in a time of 37:04.2.
The Para-Nordic World Cup continues on Friday in Vuokatti with a string of three biathlon events to close out the week.
Nordiq Canada is the governing body of para nordic and cross-country skiing in Canada, which is the nation’s optimal sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually. Its 60,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Swix, Lanctôt Sports and Pembroke – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium, Nordiq Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on Nordiq Canada, please visit us at https://nordiqcanada.ca.
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