Natalie Wilkie leaps from Next Gen prospect to star in PyeongChang

Canadian Paralympic Committee

June 27, 2018

Natalie Wilkie leaps from Next Gen prospect to star in PyeongChang

Natalie Wilkie


At the mere age of 17, Natalie Wilkie – the youngest member of the Canadian Paralympic Team – stood atop the podium at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.  

“That was pretty crazy. I didn’t believe it at first, I was only 17 and this is my first Paralympics. I just went into the race determined to do my best and see what happens. It was pretty emotional winning gold just 18 months after my accident.”

Wilkie had been skiing since she was a small child in Salmon Arm, B.C., but after she lost four fingers in a shop class accident two years ago she had to learn to ski with one pole. She attended her first Para nordic training camp in November 2016. 

A recipient of funding support from the Paralympic Foundation of Canada’s ImagiNation campaign, targeted towards the next generation of para athletes in Canada, she leaped to the podium in her first-ever Games. 

“A lot of the camps have been paid for by NextGen (funding) and that’s been really important,” she said during an interview in May. “It’s been paying for a lot of camps and races and equipment, new boots, skis, poles, so that’s been really good. Most of the camps are in Canmore so I have to drive there or fly there and that can get pretty expensive.” 

Wilkie attributes her success to team support. She was welcomed by her fellow Para nordic skiers, and the fact she was able to train alongside her experienced teammates during her short transition to para sport before the Games made a huge difference. 

“My coaches and fellow athletes have been so supportive of me. Just being able to go to these camps and ski with these amazing athletes has been an amazing experience.”  

She also makes sure to share the widespread support she received from her hometown.  

“The whole community stepped in to make cards and send emails and they gave me a big going away party. They were watching my races and they had a big viewing party. And when I came back they even gave me a parade on a fire truck. 

“It was pretty amazing. It’s crazy how involved everybody got.”

At the Games, Wilkie won a full set of medals – a gold, silver, and bronze. She lists some of her top memories from the Games as winning her first medal, a bronze in the 1.5km sprint, and hearing the Canadian anthem play when she and teammate Emily Young shared the podium with a gold and bronze in the 7.5km race.  

One of her favourite experiences though? Playing a virtual reality game in the Athletes Village. 

“I did it with one of my teammates and that was probably one of the highlights. It was this bench and it moved around and the virtual reality was ski jumping or downhill, and it would go over these jumps and the bench would move with you. It was actually really scary but it was super fun.” 

The Paralympic Foundation of Canada recently celebrated the first year of the ImagiNation campaign, which aims to raise $6 million over four years and leverage a $4 million matching commitment from the Government of Canada for an unprecedented $10 million investment in Canadian athletes with a disability. For more information, please visit

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