Canadians win snowboard, biathlon medals at Paralympic Winter Games test events

March 10, 2017

PYEONCHANG, South Korea – Nordic skier Mark Arendz of Hartsville, P.E.I. and snowboarder Curtis Minard of Vernon, B.C., both won medals today at World Cup competitions, which also served as test events for next year’s Paralympic Winter Games.

In Para Nordic skiing, Arendz continued his torrid pace on the World Cup, winning the silver medal in the opening biathlon race.

The 26-year-old Arendz shot clean in his two trips to the range en route to winning the silver medal in the men’s 7.5-kilometre standing event with a time of 18:54.4.

“It was a very solid and consistent day for me,” said Arendz. “I was great on the skis, powerful on the flatter sections and was able to switch well to stay light and fast on the climbs.”

The two-time Paralympic medallist, who racked up five medals at the recent World Championships, finished 20 seconds off the leading place set by Benjamin Daviet, of France. Daviet clocked a time of 18:33.1. Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset skied to the bronze medal at 19:21.5. The top-four athletes in the men’s standing class all shot clean.

With exactly one year until the first race of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, Arendz and his support team nailed the challenging Nordic conditions on a course that throws a little of everything at the world’s best athletes.

“The warm temperatures and bright sunlight caused the majority of the course to be very deep, soft and wet snow,” added Arendz. “I really enjoy the course here. It is a great mix of hard climbs, rolling and pancake flat sections with both straightforward and technical descents. The wind will play an important role in the shooting, but the warm and soft conditions that we are experiencing is exactly what we had expected from the venue.”

Collin Cameron of Sudbury, Ont. and Derek Zaplotinsky of Smoky Lake, Alta., were eighth and 11th.

Brittany Hudak of Prince Albert, Sask., was the top Canadian woman, placing fifth in her biathlon race. Emily Young of Vancouver was 11th.

All Canadian Para snowboard battle for bronze

At the Para snowboard-cross World Cup today in PyeongChang, Curtis Minard of Vernon, B.C. defeated Andrew Genge of Toronto in the small final for third place to take the bronze. Manuel Pozzerle of Italy beat Maxime Montaggioni of France in the big final for gold.

Competition will conclude on Monday, March 13, when the banked slalom World Cup winners will be decided.

Canada edged for berth in playoff round at wheelchair curling worlds, finishes 5th

Meanwhile at Gangneung Curling Centre in South Korea, Canada’s wheelchair curling team lost 5-4 to Norway in a tiebreaker today and will not advance to the medal round at the world championships. They end the tournament in fifth place.

After finishing the round robin with a 5-4 record, Team Canada – skip Jim Armstrong, vice-skip Ina Forrest, second Marie Wright, lead Mark Ideson, alternate Ellis Tull and coach Wayne Kiel – fell behind early in the tiebreaker to determine who would advance to the playoffs. Trailing 4-1 at the break, Canada battled back with a single in five, and two straight steals, but it wasn’t enough to shut down Norway’s Jostein Stordahl.

The 2017 Wheelchair Worlds were to be the final event to determine the field that will play at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. The combined results of the 2015, 2016 and 2017 World Championships decide the 11 teams that will play alongside the host South Korean team in 2018.

Based on the previous two years’ results, along with the makeup of the field for the 2017 Worlds, the field for 2018 is set with Canada in the mix to take aim at its fourth consecutive Paralympic gold.

At the Gangneung Curling Centre this week, Canada was looking for its first world championship since Armstrong’s team prevailed in 2013 at Sochi. In that event, Armstrong, Forrest and Ideson teamed with Dennis Thiessen and Sonja Gaudet to claim gold.