Skip to content

Canadians proven medal contenders at Para Nordic Skiing World Championships

Canada is knocking on the door of a new national record for most medals won at a world championship.

ÖSTERSUND, SWEDEN – Team Canada is on pace to break a national record for most medals won at a Para Nordic Skiing World Championships.

With podium performances from four athletes, the heavy-hitters from the north are one of the best nations at the international event in Östersund, Sweden, winning 10 medals and tying the current team high of 10, set in 2019.

Leading the way with three medals is Canada’s youngest athlete, Natalie Wilkie, who continues to be a force on the international scene – not even taking the day off for her birthday in Sweden to race. However, victory tasted sweeter than birthday cake for the 22-year-old standout.

“I didn’t look too closely to the schedule until we got to Sweden and I realized that the first race also landed on my birthday, so I couldn’t party too hard, but it was fun to have that race and win the gold on my birthday. That was pretty special,” she said.

Wilkie has won gold twice in women’s standing in Sweden. First, in the 7.5-km biathlon sprint standing on Jan. 21 when she shot nine-for-ten, and then again in the cross-country sprint on Tuesday (Jan. 24). She also took silver in the 18-km cross-country.

Brittany Hudak won silver in the 7.5-km biathlon sprint in the women’s standing on clean shooting, and bronze medals in the 18-km cross-country and 10-km biathlon.

Sit-skier Collin Cameron won gold in the biathlon sprint on nine-for-ten shooting, and silver in the 18-km cross-country race. 

Mark Arendz, the longest serving Para Nordic Ski athlete, added a gold and silver to his collection in the men’s standing biathlon sprint and 10-km races.

After a bout with COVID-19 in the fall that forced Wilkie to miss an important training camp, the product of Salmon Arm B.C., was fearful of where her fitness level would be coming into the season. However, the seven-time Paralympic medallist’s confidence grew after she captured double world cup gold in biathlon this past December.

“I think it was just more about trusting in the training I already had and to just back off when I was sick and slowly get back into it rather than push the pace too much and maybe dig myself a deeper hole,” said Wilkie.

The Canuck, along with Norway’s Vilde Nilson, are expected to consistently contend for gold moving forward.

However, another gold medal contender is Hudak, who, finally achieved heights at a world championship she had not yet done before by winning her first two medals.

“It didn’t really hit me until later that it was my first medal in world championships so it was a pretty cool day,” said Hudak, who remembers missing the podium in back-to-back biathlon races in 2019 due to a couple of misses at the range.

“At this level, those seconds really matter.”

Now competing at her fourth world championship, the 29-year-old veteran hopes to refine her technical aspects on the course as she makes power moves to the podium in the final three days.

There are six race days in a short period of time, so Hudak strategically sat out of the cross-country sprints with a focus on the remaining biathlon events.

“We’ll see what the body has left,” she said.

Four events in at the world championships and the Canadians are third in medal count with 10 (four gold, four silver, two bronze).


The first race of the world championships was the 7.5-kilometre biathlon sprint on Saturday (Jan. 21), which, with four medals, was Canada’s biggest podium day so far.

Cameron and birthday girl Wilkie each won gold, and Hudak and Arendz took silver. Christina Picton was fourth in women’s sitting. Derek Zaplotinsky was sixth in men’s sitting.

After the race, Cameron took to social media and dedicated the win to his late father.

“What a day! My first ever biathlon win, and at World Champs! 2023 has started a little hard, as many of you may know, my father passed away on the 14th … this one was for him,” wrote Cameron.

The second race was the 18-km cross-country, the longest distance of the world championships. Wilkie and Cameron won silver and Hudak took bronze on Sunday (Jan. 22). Picton was fourth.

During the women’s standing, Hudak and Wilkie started working together, benefitting the teammates. 

“When you’re in a pair or in a group, you’re usually able to go faster,” said Hudak. “Sure enough, the next couple splits were in my favour and I think the next one up 20 seconds and continued to grow so it definitely plays a role.”

The third race day brought the fast and exciting cross-country sprints where five Canadians advanced to the finals. Wilkie edged out rival Nilson to become the new world champion. Zaplotinsky finished fifth, a personal best in cross country sprint at a world championship. And finishing in sixth place each were Cameron, Arendz, and Picton.

On day four (Jan. 25), Arendz shot clean on his way to a gold medal in the 10-km biathlon. Winning her third medal of the championships, Hudak shot 17-for-20 to take bronze.

Familiar face, Brian McKeever, is on the sidelines as the new Para Nordic ski head coach, often heard yelling instructions and times as the Canadian competitors ski past. 

There are three days left of the Para Nordic Skiing World Championships.

From Friday to Sunday (Jan. 27-29) it’s the 12.5-km biathlon (2 a.m. MST); 10-km cross-country (4 a.m. MST); and to close out the competition is the mixed and open relays (2 a.m. MST).

Live YouTube streams are available on the FIS Cross Country and Biathlonworld channels.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
Read more