Three members of Canada’s Para-Nordic Team were perfect shots while fighting their way on to the biathlon pursuit podium at the World Cup Finals on Tuesday.
Canada’s top-two Para biathlon aces – Mark Arendz of Hartsville, P.E.I., and Brittany Hudak of Prince Albert, Sask. – both claimed silver medals. Canadian sit skier, Derek Zaplotinsky of Smoky Lake, Alta., earned his first career bronze in biathlon.
Four days removed from his 33rd birthday, Arendz teed up a silver-medal performance in the men’s five-kilometre standing race. The lanky Canuck knocked down all 10 shots in his two stops on the range and finished with a time of 10:57.9.
“I’m very happy to wrap up the biathlon season with today’s race. My first priority was to shoot clean which I’m happy I achieved,” said Arendz.
“This format challenges many of my strength and weaknesses. I didn’t feel all that great in the qualifier. I refocused before the final and skied a strong race, solid shooting but couldn’t make up the smaller gap over the eventual winner.”
Germany’s Marco Maier won the classification in 10:51.8. Alexandr Gerlits of Kazakhstan was also perfect in shooting while clocking a third-place time of 11:08.5.
“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,” added Arendz. “It is my best biathlon season in my career.”
Hudak matched Arendz’s performance in the women’s standing classification. A winner of two biathlon medals at the Paralympics, Hudak was second with a time of 12:36.4.
“Today was a really fun day, and I’m super happy with my race,” said Hudak.
“This was my first-ever time doing a sprint pursuit biathlon, and it was so exciting. I felt solid skiing, and managed to shoot clean so I’m happy with that.”
Bohdana Konashuk of Ukraine won the gold despite missing one shot. Konashuk posted a time of 12:31.6. Liudmyla Liashenko, also of Ukraine, was third at 13:15.3 (1+3).
The 37-year-old Zaplotinsky skied to his first Para-Nordic biathlon World Cup podium, claiming the bronze medal in the men’s sit-ski race.
Zaplotinsky, who also scored his first cross-country podium in Soldier Hollow this past week, shot clean for a third-place time of 10:22.2.
“It feels really good to finally get that biathlon medal,” said Zaplotinsky. “It was really fun race format and the first time I have ever done a sprint pursuit.”
Ukraine’s Taras Rad hit all 10 targets to win the classification with a time of 9:46.6. Aaron Pike of the United States was second at 10:08.3 (1+0).
Christina Picton of Fonthill, Ont., was the only other Canadian to suit up on Tuesday. Picton finished just off the podium in fourth place with a time of 14:36.3 (0+1).
The Para-Nordic World Cup resumes on Thursday at Soldier Hollow with the five-kilometre skate-ski races.