SOLDIER HOLLOW, Utah – Two Canadian Para nordic skiers were crowned the kings of the season, while Team Canada was seemingly on a mission to win all the medals at the final 2022-23 world cup from March 1-8 in Soldier Hollow, Utah.
Canada's Mark Arendz and Collin Cameron, a couple of big fish on the international scene, each won crystal globes, which is the title of best overall athlete based on a point system throughout the season.
Winning in men’s cross-country sit-ski, it was Cameron’s first-ever crystal globe victory after finishing 112 points ahead of second overall, Giuseppe Romele of Italy.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to work towards since I started in this sport in 2015,” said Cameron, 34, from Bracebridge, Ont. “To have everything come together and to race so consistently over the entire season is a testament to the dedication and hard work over the past couple of years.”
The man from cottage country in Ontario sealed the deal with gold in his top event, the cross-country sprint. Cameron also won silver medals in the 5-kilometre and 20-km cross country races.
A six-time Paralympic medallist, Cameron said he owes much of his success to current head coach, Brian McKeever, and former head coach, Robin McKeever, for their knowledge, wisdom, and placing confidence in him.
“It truly takes a community and I know I couldn’t have done this alone,” he said.
Arendz claimed the overall crown in men’s standing biathlon, a second time winning a crystal globe for the Canuck. He finished 83 points ahead of Ukrainian friend and rival Grygorii Vovchynskyi.
In the final biathlon races of the season, Arendz put on gold medal performances in the 12.5-km, shooting 19-for-20, and in the 7.5-km (9/10). He also claimed silvers in the biathlon sprint pursuit, and in the 5-km cross-country.
“Winning the crystal globe, it shows consistency throughout a season. Performing in every single race at the highest level,” said Arendz, 33, from Hartsville, P.E.I. “In biathlon, that means balancing performance in both the skiing and shooting.”
After off-season surgery on both of his heels, the 12-time Paralympic medallist entered the 2022-23 season with optimism.
“Going into the season with uncertainty allowed me to focus on other aspects of performance. It took the edge off from performing and allowed me to go out and just race,” said Arendz. “Throughout my career, I had times where my skiing or shooting were stronger. This season I maintained a high level of performance on the range, but more significantly I had the ski speed to make up for any range mistakes or ski away from competitors.”
MEDALS AND MAPLE SYRUP
At the final big competition of the season, Team Canada brought their eh-game and won an impressive 19 medals, including a pair from first-time world cup medal winner Derek Zaplotinsky. The 37-year-old sit-skier from Smoky Lake won bronze in the men’s cross-country sprint and biathlon sprint pursuit.
Sit-skier Christina Picton won bronze medals in the women’s sprint and 5-km cross-country events and bronze in the 12.5-km biathlon.
Natalie Wilkie won one of each gold, silver, and two bronze medals in cross-country and biathlon races in women standing.
Brittany Hudak won a pair of silvers in women’s standing, and just barely missed the podium in two cross-country races, finishing fourth.