Mark Arendz and Collin Cameron led a three-medal day at the World Cup finals for Canada’s Para nordic team to conclude the season on Wednesday at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center in Midway, Utah.
Arendz earned silver in the men’s 20-kilometre skate-ski mass start race, while Cameron grabbed silver in the sit-ski competition. Natalie Wilkie claimed silver in the women’s standing classification.
In the process, Arendz and Cameron both collected Crystal Globes. Arendz placed first overall in the biathlon standings and Cameron finished atop the men’s sit-ski World Cup cross-country skiing standings.
“It has been an incredible season. Starting the season, not sure I would even travel to the first World Cup, then to achieve what I have,” said Arendz, who had double ankle surgery last summer. “It was my best biathlon season in my career.”
Para nordic skiing includes both cross-country skiing and biathlon for athletes who have a physical impairment.
Arendz of Hartsville, P.E.I., finished with a time of 49 minutes, 16.1 seconds for second. Japan’s Taiki Kawayoke struck gold (48:27.0), while France’s Benjamin Daviet placed third (49:42.6).
Cameron of Bracebridge, Ont., stopped the clock at 57:03.3 in his second-place finish. Italy’s Giuseppe Romele earned gold (56:10.5) and Ukraine’s Pavlo Bal took bronze (57:29.6).
“It was such an awesome day. I’m so happy with today’s race and how I paced it,” Cameron said. “I owe a big thanks to the wax techs again.
“I’m so happy to finish off the season with a race like that. An awesome day and season for the entire team.”
Wilkie of Salmon Arm, B.C., was narrowly outmatched in the final lap of her race, crossing the finish line at 54:13.9.
Norway’s Vilde Nilsen earned the victory with a time of 54:10.7. Ukraine’s Liudmyla Liashenko rounded out the podium (55:10.2).
“I had so much fun doing a mass start, and skiing together with all of the other competitors and I was able to put some good strategies and tactics to use,” said the two-time Paralympian.
“I tried hard to drop Vilde in the last lap, but she was able to win the sprint to the finish. All in all — it was a great race, and I’m happy to finish the World Cup season on a high note.”
Brittany Hudak of Prince Albert, Sask., was fourth with a time of 55:14.7.
Magog, Que., native Lyne-Marie Bilodeau, finished fourth in the women’s sit-ski event (1:25:10.5).
Along with the two Crystal Globes, the Canadian squad concluded the season with 41 World Cup medals and 16 world championship medals.
Canada’s high-performance director Kate Boyd said the success exceeded expectations after the team underwent major modifications, with two new coaches in Brian McKeever and Menno Arendz, and new manager Bjorn Taylor.
“Change always comes with unknowns so our performance expectations were conservative for the first year of the quad, with new coach leadership and coming off a big build up to Beijing 2022. Closing out the season with best ever performances from the team exceeded everyone’s expectations,” Boyd said.
“Every day, the coaches left no stone unturned in the preparation, and the team of athletes stepped to the line fully prepared which resulted in multiple podium performances each race.”
playoffs begin Friday and the final is scheduled for Sunday.