CANMORE, Alta.— (Cross Country Canada) Canada’s Mark Arendz and Brittany Hudak each stormed onto the podium for the first time this year after adding a silver and bronze medal to Canada’s haul at the season-opening Para-Nordic World Cup in Canmore, Alta.
The 27-year-old Arendz clocked a second-place time of 36:56.7 in the men’s 15-kilometre individual standing competition. Hudak, 24, captured the bronze medal in the women’s 12.5-kilometre individual standing race after clocking-in at 40:54.1.
“It was a good race, but there was room for sharpening being the first Para-biathlon race of the year,” said Arendz. “I died a little more than I hoped towards the end, but overall it was consistent.
“I wanted to start steady and that was the key to success today.”
The two-time Paralympic biathlon medallst from Hartsville, P.E.I. was solid throughout each of the five laps around the world-renowned Canmore Nordic Centre, taking advantage of clean shooting and skiing to remain in second spot throughout the race.
“Some of the Neutrals are here that I haven’t seen in a couple of years and I know they are really good athletes so it was good to see where I stood today,” added Arendz, who was ranked second overall in Para-biathlon last year. “I was feeling good enough in the range, but I can push a little more there.
“Knowing this range inside and out, and shooting at every moment in it, from dawn to dusk, that's what's going to help us here, especially with this changing light.”
Arendz’s top rival, Benjamin Daviet, served notice he will be the man to beat in Pyeongchang, winning the opening race with a time of 35:46.3 and perfect day of shooting. Neutral Athlete, Aleksandr Pronkov, was third at 37:04.0.
Brittany Hudak, of Prince Albert, Sask., was also thrilled to ski her way back onto the Para-Nordic World Cup podium for the first this year.
The 24-year-old was the lone athlete in the women’s field to shoot clean, propelling her to the bronze medal with a time of 40:54.1.
“I was happy with the shooting today. The skiing felt a little bit slow today – I didn't have a lot of turnover, but I tried to ski consistently and hit the targets, and it worked out well,” said Hudak. “It's nice to have a podium finish in the third race of the year. It solidifies my trust in the process.”
Hudak will have a gap to close on two Neutral Athletes if she wants to stand on the top of the podium. Ekaterina Rumyantseva continued her dominance in the first week of racing, winning the gold at 37:06.2 (0+0+1+0). Anna Milenina missed two shots on the range (1+0+0+1), but hung on for the silver medal at 38:11.2.
“I think I need to be a little more efficient on the skis. It's a balance between keeping the tempo and the glide. When I tried to focus on long glide, I really wasn't gliding that well. I think fine tuning ski efficiency is key,” said Hudak.”
The final two biathlon races at the Para-Nordic World Cup are scheduled for the weekend in Canmore, Alta.