Para-nordic World Cup Fi­nale

U.S.A. and Canada on the Podium

SkiTrax - - International Comp - By Ben Andrew

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.

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