Para-nordic World Cup Finale
U.S.A. and Canada on the Podium
U.S. and Canadian competitors came prepared and did not disappoint at the final rounds of the Para-nordic World Cups, which took athletes to the Pyeongchang, South Korea on March 10-15 for an Olympic test event and to Sapporo, Japan on March 18-22 for the season finale. Both events saw strong performances from North American athletes, demonstrating the depth of the Canadian and American Para-nordic programs.
Pyeongchang, South Korea - March 10-15
On March 10, Canada's Mark Arendz continued his torrid pace on the Para-nordic World Cup, winning the silver medal in the opening biathlon race at the 2018 Paralympic venue in Pyeongchang, Korea. The U.S.A.'S world champion Oksana Masters also claimed a medal, finishing third in the women's biathlon middle-distance sitting race. Meanwhile, Brittany Hudak led two Canadians in the 6km women's standing biathlon classification. The 23-yearold Hudak put down a medal-winning pace, but dropped to fifth with one costly miss in her opening round of shooting.
On the second day of competition, the U.S.A.'S Para-nordic skiers secured two wins in the cross-country skiing long-distance events. Jacob Adicoff, guided by Sawyer Kesselheim, won the first race of his career in the men's visually impaired. The U.S.A.'S triple world champion Masters also took the top step of the podium in the women's sit-ski race. In the men's equivalent 15km cross-country sit-ski race, the U.S.A.'S Andrew Soule claimed silver, followed by Canada's Chris Klebl, who won the bronze. Canadian Collin Cameron placed sixth.
Canada's Arendz fought through sunny and warm conditions to claim his second-straight podium in as many days after winning the bronze medal in the men's standing 20km cross-country ski skate race, while Vancouver's Emily Young had a solid outing in the women's 15km standing race, finishing fifth.
Competition resumed on March 13 with Canada's sit-skier Cameron having the race of his life, capturing his first victory on the Para-nordic World Cup. The 28-year-old was aggressive out of the gate in the final, where he skied near the front of the pack en route to winning the gold after an impressive final 100 metres. Americans Dan Cnossen and Soule finished second and third, respectively.
“It's amazing. It is the best feeling of my life,” said Cameron, who secured his spot in the head-to-head heats with the third-fastest qualifying time. “It's nice to see my hard work in training and experience from my last two sprint races this year pay off with a victory here in Pyeongchang.”
Masters continued her winning ways in the women's sitting after sealing a hat trick of titles at February's World Championships in Finsterau, Germany. She secured a second win in Pyeongchang in the women's sitting. The U.S.A.'S Adicoff, guided by Kesselheim, added a second victory to his haul in Pyeongchang, winning the men's visually impaired.
The trail to the podium continued for the Canadians in the women's standing division. Young had her best race of the season, winning the silver medal. Qualifying for the heats in fourth place, the 26-year-old cruised through the semifinals with fast skis and aggressiveness on the course. Young crossed the line in third place, but was elevated to the silver medal when a Ukraine skier was relegated for a false start.
The final day of competition on March 15 was again a plentiful one for North American athletes, with the U.S.A.'S Masters winning gold in the women's sitting. Canada's Arendz toughed out a silver-medal victory under brutal conditions in the men's 15km standing race, while Aaron Pike and Cnossen of the U.S.A. claimed the second and third steps of the men's sitting podium, respectively.
Sapporo, Japan - March 18-22
The final Para-nordic World Cup of the season took place in Sapporo, Japan over five days, and again the North Americans posted some strong performances in several events.
On March 18 during the cross-country middle-distance events, the U.S.A.'S Masters took her first gold of the World Cup finals. Fellow Americans Adicoff and guide Kesselheim finished second in the men's visually impaired event.
The cross-country short-distance events took place on March 19, with U.S.A.'S Adicoff and Kesselheim taking the win in the men's visually impaired. Canada's Klebl won a silver medal in the men's 5km sit-ski competition, while Masters claimed the silver medal in the women's sitting race.
March 21 saw the biathlon middle-distance events get underway, with World title-holder Masters finishing on the top step of the podium. Canada's Arendz added a silver medal from the men's standing 12.5km biathlon race to his collection.
The biathlon sprint events wrapped up in Japan with Canada's Young taking the first biathlon medal of her career in the women's 6km sprint, while Arendz won his second-straight silver medal of the finals in the men's sprint, securing second place in the overall Para-nordic World Cup biathlon standings for the third time in his career. Masters also found herself on the podium once again in the women's biathlon sprint.
U.S.A.'S Pike finished fourth in the men's sitting, while fellow Americans Adicoff and Kesselheim finished sixth in the men's visually impaired.
(clockwise from top left) U.S.A.'S Jacob Adicoff (r) with guide Sawyer Kesselheim took home a career-first victory; American world champion Oksana Masters won several gold medals; silver and bronze for Canada's Chris Klebl; Canadian Mark Arendz secured second place in the overall Para-nordic World Cup biathlon standings for the third time in his career.