VUOKATTI, Fin.—Mark Arendz racked up his fourth medal of the week at the Para-Nordic World Cup after turning in one of the best races of his career to win the bronze in a men’s 20-kilometre cross-country classic-ski race in Vuokatti, Finland.
The 26-year-old biathlon specialist is now proving to be a medal contender in all Nordic race disciplines. Arendz battled his way around hard-packed Nordic highways in Finland on Thursday in a time of 52:14.1 to secure third spot in the men’s standing classification.
“The focus going into this first World Cup was to do well in biathlon and in my classic-ski races because I have put specific focus on my classic technique this year,” said Arendz. “Biathlon has always been my first priority, and where my results have come from in the past, but I feel things are changing a little.”
They certainly are. The two-time Paralympic medallist from Hartsville, P.E.I. has captured two silvers and two bronze in cross-country ski and biathlon sprint and distance events thus far at the season-opener.
“One of the biggest changes for me is I now enjoy going out for a classic ski. I’ve always wanted to be able to have competitive consistency throughout all of my races in all disciplines,” added Arendz. “I am now building that confidence and looking to be fast at World Championships.”
Arendz had one of his most competitive races of his career against eventual winner, Ihor Reptyukh of the Ukraine. Reptyukh set the time to beat at 51:21.6. Finland’s IIkka Tuomisto skied to the silver-medal position on the podium with a time of 51:59.6.
Meanwhile, 23-year-old rising star Brittany Hudak, had her best race of the early season with a fifth-place finish in the women’s standing division, clocking a time of 54:45.7 in the 15-kilometre race.
“Overall I’m pleased with my race today because I gave a hard effort but was a little disappointed missing out on fourth. It was exciting for me to get the split times that I was in fourth and that helped me maintain the pace. My body felt good today, and with lots of spectators and all my support staff encouraging me I was able to push the envelope that much more. There’s no question that racing is hard, but I also love finding out how hard I can push myself on a good day,” said Hudak.
“Many things are going well for me right now, but of course I have areas in mind that still need some improvement. I’m comfortable with how I’m skiing and I have faith that with some more focus on improving ski technique I can continue to ski well and hopefully see some more improvements.”
Hudak, of Prince Albert, Sask., is closing in on the dominant Ukraine women who grabbed the top-four spots in the women’s standing race. Oleksandra Kononova finished on top with a time of 51:09.0. IuIiia Batenkova posted a silver medal time of 51:52.4, while Liudmyla Liashenko completed the podium sweep for the blue and yellow with a time of 52:13.9.
“Although I’m really itching for a podium finish this year, I think I just need to continue to have trust in the process and honestly keep doing what I’m doing,” added Hudak. “Living in Canmore and having the opportunity to work more closely with coach Robin and also my speedy teammates Mark (Arendz) and Brian (McKeever) has really benefited my progression with better ski technique. It’s now just going to be some fine-tuning of things as the season continues and loving every moment of the process!”
National Development Team athlete, Collin Cameron of Sudbury, Ont., finished 12h in the men’s sit-skiing classification after stopping the clock at 50:57.9.
Men’s Results: http://bit.ly/2hoVCes