CANMORE, Alta.(Cross Country Canada) —Canada’s Emily Young rattled off her third-straight podium performance at the season-opening Para-Nordic World Cup in Canmore, Alta. winning the silver medal on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old skied onto the silver step of the women’s standing podium for the first time in her career after a stellar 15-kilometre effort in the classic-ski race on the punishing Canmore Nordic Centre layout.
“This is a tough course. You have to work the entire way,” said Young. “I wasn’t sure how to pace it. I’ve only done a few long distance classic races. Being so new to skiing, classic is so technical. I tried to be relaxed, and to use my endurance from Ironman (background). That helps with the mental aspect when you get tired.”
With little expectations heading into the race, the former wrestling athlete from Vancouver was powering her way up the hills and charging down the flats on the trails winding in front of Rundle Mountain where she finished the five loops with a time of 47:33.0.
“I was hoping for a medal. I knew I could fight for third. I wasn’t expecting to finish much higher, but you never know. Anything can happen,” said Young. “That was home field advantage today. I train on a lot of these hills so I know how they hurt.”
Young put the hurt on all but one in the field. The only athlete in the deepest classification on the elite Para-Nordic circuit to top her was Neutral Para Athlete, Ekaterina Rumyantseva, who set the time to beat at 47:00.6.
Anna Milenina, also a Neutral Para Athlete, was third at 47:42.3.
It was the third medal in as many races for Young. The Canadian breath of fresh air also claimed bronze in both the sprint and middle-distance races.
“That was a great performance today for Emily. We’ll take that,” said Robin McKeever, head coach, Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team. “She’s only been in our program for two years, and is able to be on the podium and beat a multiple World Champion today by 10 seconds. That is a huge thing for her, and a great confidence boost for our program.”
While Young is stealing the medal attention, it is a Canadian teenager that is at the centre of discussions around the first World Cup of the Paralympic season.
Just 18 months removed from an accident in Grade 9 woodshop class that resulted in an impairment to her left hand, Natalie Wilkie put in a medal-worthy performance while skiing to her third-straight fourth-place finish.
Competing in her first 15-kilometre distance race, the 16-year-old from Salmon Arm, B.C. showed why she is a highly-ranked junior able-bodied skier, and demonstrated her potential in the Para world, while matching stride-for-stride with the best in the business en route to posting a time of 48:12.0.
The Para-Nordic World Cup continues on Thursday in Canmore, Alta. with the first of three biathlon competitions.
Complete Results: https://www.paralympic.org/nordic-skiing/calendar-results