Young strikes bronze again in rara para-pursut race
Thursday, Dec 21, 2017 06:00 am
Competing in the first para-biathlon pursuit race of their young careers, Canadians Emily Young and Brittany Hudak finished third and fourth respectively on Sunday (Dec. 17) to conclude Canada’s medal haul at the Canmore Nordic Centre at the 2017 World Para-Nordic Skiing World Cup.
In her fifth race in 10 days, Young missed two shots and finished 45 seconds behind world champion and Neutral Para-Athlete Anna Milenina. Para-biathlon races calculate starts based on previous races and an athlete’s ability or classification. Once the numbers were crunched, the Canadians had a tough battle ahead.
“I started 4:01 (back) from the leader, and 1:51 from (Milenina),” said Young. “It was a battle to see if I could hold third. I didn’t think I was going to get that close to second place. I tried to hold her skiing, but she has so much power and so many years on me for skiing that I was just burnt out trying to keep up with her.”
Young caught Milenina, who missed eight shots on the day, but couldn’t quite capitalize on her competition’s poor shooting. With her family and dog Kona in the stands cheering her on, she wasn’t allowed to slow down.
“We are trying accuracy versus speed and I knew I could catch up on some skiing time. If I could shoot clean, I knew I could stay up in the top pack,” Young said.
The 26-year-old is still a student of the sport, and said she has a lot to learn heading into the 2017 Winter Paralympics, while focusing on peaking for the Games in March. However, she’s keeping her sense of humour intact. She credited her first medal to Coca-Cola, while orange slices powered the second medal.
“Me and sugar go really well. That’s what carried me around the course today,” Young said.
Young suffered nerve damage during a wrestling tournament in 2009, which limited mobility in her left arm. After spending time in triathlon, Young was recruited to the Canadian Para-Nordic team and has quickly become a medal contender.
Preparing for her first Paralympics, Young said she’s on the right path.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season. I know in the moment throughout the training season you have your up and down days, but I think overall I’ve had more ups than downs. It’s showed in December and it’s positive moving forward through to March,” Young said.
Ekaternina Rumyantseva (NPA) finished first.
Hudak was happy with her fourth-place performance, which came on the heels of a bronze in the individual race. Five races took its toll over the week, but the pursuit format suited her style.
“It gets a little distracting when you’re trying to catch the people ahead of you, but you know the people behind you are catching you. Your thoughts can kind of skew away from what your process is and what your race plan is,” Hudak said.
The exacting athlete is very hard on herself, but said that push for perfection is what keeps her going. She felt she was wanting more, and always takes copious notes after each race, breaking down her performance.
“I’m one of those people that has higher expectations of themselves. For me, even when I do get a good result, I’m not fully satisfied and I think that makes me a better athlete. But there comes a time when you have to realize how far you’ve come. I haven’t been skiing all that long. My technique was really bad not that long ago,” Hudak said.
She also vows to be faster in PyeongChang, and said the Canmore races are the perfect preparation for the big show.
“This was a great learning experience,” Hudak said. “It’s a great opportunity to learn and figure out where those weaknesses are and then concentrate on those going into the game. That’s where I think a lot of gains can be made, by focusing more on those weaknesses. Your strengths can only improve by margins, but weaknesses, you can see bigger jumps if you kinda focus on those.”
Mark Arendz finished fifth in the men’s standing pursuit. Although he wanted more, Arendz would have been on the podium if he had shot clean.
“I think there was just a little fatigue on the range mentally; the groups weren’t as tight as I would’ve liked them. The first loop and the last loop were really good. It’s just that the two middle ones were with a penalty; the misses there, that hurt,” Arendz said.