CANMORE, Alta. – Under normal circumstances, Para nordic skier Brittany Hudak would be presently planning for her first overseas trip of the season and getting in final training sessions at home before the World Cup campaign got underway in Finland, Japan or another part of the winter world.
Unfortunately, the 2020-21 campaign will be unlike any other due to the ongoing pandemic. But that’s not going to stop the Paralympic Winter Games medallist from training and preparing within the realm of possibility that this is just a normal season.
“I’m trying to stay positive through all of this,” said Hudak, 27, a bronze medallist in the 12.5-kilometre biathlon at the 2018 PyeongChang Games. “I can’t get my hopes too high though since we don’t know what we’re going into. Everything changes day by day.”
But with this being the pre-Paralympic Winter Games season – Beijing is hosting the next Games in March 2022 – Hudak knows her opponents are still on the warpath and she hopes to capitalize on any racing opportunities this season.
Usually in a pre-Games season there are World Cup events which would include a test event in Beijing and the world championships, which is still scheduled for February in Lillehammer, Norway.
“I’ll make sure I have quality training and hoping some races will happen locally and at the international level.
Even if the season is not going on you have to make sure you’re in top shape.”
As an outdoor athlete, it’s not surprising Hudak spent the summer keeping fit with distance excursions of running and hiking through Canmore’s spectacular trails and hills.
“It is pretty much normal right now in the pre-race season with the intensity and focus ramping up,” she said.
“We just hope to get at least one international race in so we can see where we stand against the rest of the world.”
The extra training time has also allowed Hudak, who was born missing part of her left arm and skis with one pole, to fine-tune aspects her skiing and shooting.
“As an endurance sport I’m working on my ski technique and efficiency,” she said. “I want to gain those components which will allow me to expend less energy and gain more seconds in a race.”
Hudak, also a 2014 Paralympian, currently has two training sessions a day in Canmore. Then she also works an evening shift at the Enviros Wilderness School Association working at one of their group homes for teens.
Hudak has a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Saskatchewan, her home province.
“I work with a group of 14-18-year-olds where their concerns are beyond COVID-19 right now,’’ said Hudak, who was born and raised in Prince Albert, Sask. and introduced to Para sport by the legendary Colette Bourgonje. “They are looking for their next meal, where they are going to live, it just keeps everything in perspective. I’m always inspired by people and their stories.
“It’s been a good balance for me through all of this.”