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Brittany Hudak: Bow Valley's Beijing Bound Athletes

“I always think you can make a good decision and go down a completely different path, which for me was skiing."

Brittany Hudak, Para nordic skiing, Paralympics bronze medallist

Brittany Hudak is killing it right now.

In December, the top skier won four world cup gold medals and one silver; she easily qualified for a third Winter Paralympic Games; she modelled Lululemon’s Team Canada kit during the uniforms’ premiere in Toronto; her picture’s on a friggin’ beer label; and, legend has it, she’s the flyest moonwalker in Canmore.

Four years after winning bronze at the Paralympics, Hudak’s quick-fire skills are on the verge of something bigger.

But it’s one thing to know she’s racing the fastest she ever has, another entirely to see a humble confidence yet burning potential that’s as red-hot as anyone on Team Canada.

“I just take satisfaction in going out and having the best race and know that showcase the best of my abilities and everything I learned,” said Hudak. “If that was my best day then I’ll be satisfied with that regardless if that was a podium result or not.”

Born without the lower part of her left arm, sport has been one way Hudak’s put everything together to be at her best. On the national team for eight years, the 28-year-old has entered that sweet spot where her endurance is built sturdy, the ski technique and shooting are on point and a power-propelled persistence can challenge the hearts of gold medallist hopefuls with 50 metres to go.

“Cross-country skiing is one of those sports that’s hard enough when you have all your limbs and then to do it missing an arm or people missing a leg or visually impaired, that speaks volumes about what kind of person you have to be to pursue this,” she said.

“I just really enjoy being outside and the physical boundaries that you push in cross-country skiing because it’s such an endurance sport and it’s really cool to see the different progressions. That’s kind of what got me hooked on it.”

About 10 years ago, Hudak, a then-part time Canadian Tire employee studying for university was pulled aside by a curious customer at work and offered a Matrix-type blue pill, red pill opportunity. Well, kind of.

Colette Bourgonje, a four-time Paralympics medallist, was recruiting more athletes into Para nordic skiing.

Hudak had limited experience on skis, remembering one time being “just basically walking on skis in a wide open field at our school.” Still, she figured what the heck and was willing to give it one more shot.

“I always think you can make a good decision and go down a completely different path, which for me was skiing,” said Hudak.

Hudak’s truly been a product of her environment. Influenced by the athletic greatness around the Bow Valley where bumping into elite athletes is as common as elk roaming around the community, she’s become of one of the standout athlete’s around town.

And having grown up in Prince Albert, a city in central Saskatchewan, which has one Canada’s highest crime and domestic rates, Hudak has a heightened sense of how common these issues really are and how easy it is to go down the wrong path.

Known for an infatuation on skis, Hudak’s heart glows for her social work, which contributes to the greater well-being of individuals, families and communities. She’s finished a degree at the University of Regina and started working part-time at a group home in Calgary.

“It’s everywhere in society and it’s not something I was really able to turn a blind eye on,” Hudak said. 

“I wish that society and people in general can kind of keep their eyes open to that and know that there’s always so much more going on in people’s lives and we can’t judge or make those decisions like that and everyone is so different and unique and we have to see them for their strengths.”

Once the sun sets on her athletic career, she’ll continue with this mission.

In the mean time: Beijing = Brittany’s time.

It might be Hudak’s third appearance at the Winter Paralympics, but it feels like she’s just getting started.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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