Emily Young and Mark Arendz both battled to the biathlon podium for the second straight day, winning the silver and bronze respectively in the standing classifications at the Para Nordic World Cup in Sapporo, Japan on Thursday.
Young took one more step on the podium following a bronze medal triumph yesterday. The 28-year-old captured a season-best second-place finish on Thursday in the sprint distance. Arendz was not able to match his silver-medal finish at the opening day of the final World Cup of the season but put together one of his strongest races of the season for the bronze.
North Vancouver’s Young enjoyed a perfect day of shooting and fast skis to clock a second-place time of 18:32.7 in the women’s five-kilometre sprint event.
“Shooting clean was definitely the difference today,” said Young. “Our category is filled with good shooters who also happen to ski fast. Today I decided to go hard off the line, push the skiing and try to relax in the range.”
The two-time Paralympic medallist credited fast skis and team support for helping her to climb onto the podium with two athletes from the Ukraine. Oleksandra Kononova shot clean to win the gold medal at 17:40.1. Bohdana Konashuk missed one shot in her final stop at the range, dropping her behind Young in third at 19:18.0.
“We all had wicked fast skis thanks to our awesome team of wax techs,” said Young. “The team atmosphere we have here is hard to beat, and that definitely gives you a boost even before hitting the line.”
Young’s teammate, Brittany Hudak of Prince Albert, Sask., nearly grabbed a spot of her own on the podium, finishing fourth for the second-straight day. The 25-year-old finished two seconds off the medal-winning pace with a time of 19:20.2 after knocking down all 10 shots.
It may not have been a victory, but Mark Arendz put down one of his best performances of the year in a tight biathlon sprint race. The Springton, P.E.I. native shot clean and skied strong for 7.5 kilometres to post a time of 18:25.6.
“That felt like one of the best races I have had all year in biathlon,” said Arendz, who has been struggling to find his confidence shooting in Japan. “I felt more at home on the range, and able to push the limits a little today.
“Yesterday’s race really helped me bring my level up, and I skied much better. It was a great way to finish the biathlon season with one of the closest races of the year between the top-three men.”
With just five seconds separating first from third, Benjanmin Daviet of France, swept the biathlon races in Japan, winning the gold with a time of 18:16.0.
Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset was also clean in shooting to edge Arendz out for the silver with a time of 18:23.5.
Derek Zaplotinsky, of Smoky Lake, Alta., was the only other Canadian to suit up on Thursday and finished sixth in the men’s 7.5-kiloemtre sit-ski race with a time of 25:26.2 (0+3).
The Para Nordic World Cup continues on Saturday in Japan with the first of two cross-country ski races