SAPPORO, JPN.—Canada’s Emily Young and Mark Arendz put an exclamation point on a stellar season, each taking home a silver medal in the final Para-Nordic World Cup biathlon race of the season in Sapporo, Japan on Wednesday.
Vancouver’s Young celebrated the first biathlon medal of her career on the elite circuit, while Arendz, of Hartsville, P.E.I., won the his second straight silver medal at the World Cup Finals – both in the standing classification.
The 26-year-old Young had a brilliant day in the women’s six-kilometre sprint race, rattling off all 10 targets in her two rounds of shooting while powering down the soft trails on the skinny skis.
“What the heck just happened? And why didn’t I do that the rest of the year?” laughed Young, who also shot clean in Tuesday’s distance race. “Yesterday was a confidence booster in the range, but I tried another tactic in skiing which didn’t work.
“On the start line today, I knew I could give it everything for six kilometres and so I did. I trusted my abilities and the process (coach) John Jacques and I have been focusing on and it worked.”
Young upset a Ukraine sweep of the women’s podium by posting a second-place time of 18:41.8.
“I had no expectations other then I was going to ski and shoot the best I could and I did it,” added Young. “I can’t thank the wax techs and coaches enough. They have been absolutely incredible the entire year and nothing would be possible without their support.”
Oleksandra Kononova won the final race of the season with a time of 18:12.9 despite missing two shots. Iuliia Batenkova also shot clean to claim the bronze medal at 18:50.9.
It has been a breakthrough season for Canada’s Young. Competing in just her third year on the Para-Nordic World Cup circuit, the former wrestler also wrangled up three cross-country ski medals including one while a part of Canada’s first-ever bronze-medal winning relay team at the World Championships.
“The season as a whole has built me some confidence. With another year of the work the coaches and I have been doing – anything is possible,” said Young. “I am very happy with the outcome and the lessons I have learned this year. It has been a very successful year for our team, and it is humbling to know, that I have contributed to that success. The possibilities are endless. I am excited to see where the next year can take me.”
Another member of the high-powered Canadian squad who has been on a tear of late is Mark Arendz.
Just one week away from his 27th birthday, Arednz has been a force all season in both cross-country and biathlon race disciplines.
Sitting in third place after this first of three trips around the 2.5-kilometre loop, and missing one on the range, the two-time Paralympian dug deep and fought his way back into the silver medal position.
Shooting clean in his second bout, Arendz shook off the pain of racing for the 10th time in nearly two weeks over the final lap to claim the silver medal at 18:45.3.
“This morning I believed I could be in the hunt for the victory. The body felt great,” said Arendz. “Missing the first shot, I knew the win would have slipped out of my hands, but I had to ski myself back into contention and focused what I needed to do to secure some crystal.”
Arendz’s silver-medal finish locked up the crystal globe for second place in the overall Para-Nordic World Cup biathlon standings for the third time in his career. The Islander was on fire all season, finishing on the podium nine times in biathlon while adding a first-ever five medals in cross-country ski racing. He never finished worse than second in biathlon, nor did he place outside the top-five in any cross-country ski events.
“I’m thrilled to have been as consistent as I was this season. It shows the improvement I have made on the shooting range, and it is paying off in competition,” said Arendz, who didn’t think he could fight for the overall title after missing a handful of World Cups. “The string of seconds does show me there is still room for improvement. That will add to my drive over the next 12 months.”
It was the third time in his career he’s finished second overall. He also accomplished the feat in 2012 and 2011. He finished first in the overall in 2013 – one year before capturing two biathlon medals at the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Benjamin Daviet, of France, locked up the overall Para-Nordic World Cup biathlon title after shooting clean to win the gold medal in the short distance biathlon race with a time of 17:49.6.
Ihor Reptyukh, of the Ukraine, hung on for the bronze medal with a time of 19:32.5 despite missing two targets in his final round of shots on the range.