March 11, 2017 (PyeongChang, Korea) – Canada’s Mark Arendz continued his torrid pace on the World Para-Nordic World Cup, winning the silver medal in the opening biathlon race at the 2018 Paralympic venue on Friday in PyeongChang, Korea.
The 26-year-old Arendz shot clean in his two trips to the range en route to winning the silver medal in the men’s 7.5-kilometre standing event with a time of 18:54.4.
“It was a very solid and consistent day for me,” said Arendz, of Hartsville, P.E.I. “I was great on the skis, powerful on the flatter sections and was able to switch well to stay light and fast on the climbs.”
The two-time Paralympic medallist, who racked up five medals at the recent World Championships, finished 20 seconds off the leading place set by Benjamin Daviet, of France. Daviet clocked a time of 18:33.1. Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset skied to the bronze medal at 19:21.5. The top-four athletes in the men’s standing class all shot clean.
The USA’s world champion Oksana Masters (24:43.1) claimed third in the women’s biathlon middle distance sitting race as Anja Wicker from Germany (24:19.6), the Finsterau 2017 World Championships gold medallist, shot clean to maintain the No.1 position in the overall rankings. Compatriot Andrea Eskau (24:19.8) came in second.
With exactly one year until the first race of the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, Arendz and his support team nailed the challenging Nordic conditions on a course that throws a little of everything at the world’s best athletes.
“The warm temperatures and bright sunlight caused the majority of the course to be very deep, soft and wet snow,” added Arendz. “I really enjoy the course here. It is a great mix of hard climbs, rolling and pancake flat sections with both straightforward and technical descents. The wind will play an important role in the shooting, but the warm and soft conditions that we are experiencing is exactly what we had expected from the venue.”
Canada’s developing Para-Nordic athletes, Collin Cameron and Derek Zaplotinsky, also got their first taste of the 2018 course in the men’s 7.5-kilometre sit-skiing biathlon sprint race. Cameron, of Sudbury, Ont., missed three shots in his final bout on the range to clock an eighth-place time of 26:38.1. Zaplotinsky, of Smokey Lake, Alta., finished 11th at 28:52.6, missing two in his final shooting.
Germany’s Martin Fleig won the classification with a time of 24:25.0 (0+1).
Meanwhile, Brittany Hudak led two Canadians in the six-kilometre women’s standing biathlon classification. The 23-year-old Hudak put down a medal-winning pace, but dropped to fifth with one costly miss in her opening round of shooting. Hudak, of Prince Albert, posted a finishing time of 21:15.1.
Vancouver’s Emily Young also suited up on Friday. The 26 year old struggled on the range, missing three, to finish ninth with a time of 22:14.0 (2+1) in the deepest women’s race category.
The Ukraine women swept the podium. Oleksandra Kononova won with a time of 19:26.8 (0+2). Iullia Batenkova shot clean to finish second at 19:35.4, while Iryna Bui won the bronze medal at 20:12.6 (0+1).
The Para-Nordic Test Event on the 2018 venue continues on Saturday.