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Arendz gives Canada a gold-medal sweep in individual events at Para Biathlon World Championships

Thirty-four year-old Prince Edward Islander wins four medals in four-day competition at Otway Nordic Centre

Prince Edward Islander Mark Arendz completed the triple crown over the weekend at the inaugural Para Biathlon World Championships, winning gold in all three individual events.

Best of all, he did in his home country with his family watching from the crowd at Otway Nordic Centre.

The 34-year-old native of Hartsville, P.E.I. went into the weekend having won the 7.5-kilometre sprint and the 12.5 km distance race, and his steady aim and strong skiing stride pushed him to the top of the heap again on Saturday in the men’s standing sprint pursuit.

Arendz went 10-for-10 on the range to avoid the penalty loop and crossed the finish in 11 minutea 18.9 seconds to claim his third gold medal of the competition in Prince George.

“It’s fantastic,” said Arendz, who had just one missed target in his three individual wins.

“Only earlier this year (at the World Cup in Martell, Italy) was the first time I've ever been able to do the triple at a venue, and that was pretty special. And to do it here, my first time at a world championships, on home soil with my brother here, my parents watching – it's unbelievable.”

Ukrainian Serhii Romaniuk claimed silver and Benjamin Daviet of France took the bronze medal.

On Sunday, Arendz teamed up Brittany Hudak of Prince Albert, Sask., and captured bronze in the team sprint.

That was Canada’s eighth medal in the four-day competition. The four-member Canadian team placed fourth overall with seven medals (four gold and three bronze).

Natalie Wilkie of Salmon Arm won gold in the women’s standing 7.5 km sprint, sharing her win with Liudimyla Liashenko of Ukraine. Wilkie also won bronze in the 12.5 km race, while Hudak was the bronze medalist in the 7.5 km sprint and just missed the podium in the sprint pursuit, placing fourth.

Sit-skier Derek Zaplotinsky of Smoky Lake, Alta., was fourth in the 7.5 km and fourth in the sprint pursuit.

Kendall Gretsch and Oksana Masters, the dominant duo in the women’s sit-ski class, had some time to make up after their team sprint qualifying races and started third. Despite three misses for Masters in her second shooting bout, the Americans reeled in Ukraine and Germany to win gold in 22:22.1.

Although it was windy Saturday and Sunday, Gretsch shot clean and had just one miss all week, in the 7.5 km sprint. Gretsch went through the entire 2022-23 season without a miss.

Gretsch/Masters stopped the clock 12 seconds ahead of silver medalists Vasyl Kravchuk and Taras Rad of the Ukraine, while Germans Andrea Eskau and Anja Wicker took bronze

The last race in the team sprint Sunday combined standing and vision-impaired disciplines and Liashenko teamed up with Bohdana Korashuk to win gold. Standing skier Leonie Maria Walter and guide Christian Krasman combined with Lin Kazmaier and her guide Florian Baumann to win silver, just ahead of Arendz/Hudak.

Kazmaier and Walter finished first and second respectively in the three women’s vision-impaired individual races as the dominant Germans combined with Johan Recktenwald and her guide Pirmin Strecker to lock up all three podium spots earlier in the week.

In the men’s vision-impaired class, Olexander Kazik of Ukraine and his guide Serhii Kucheriavyi won the 7.5mn and sprint pursuit races and were third in the 12.5 km. 

Anthony Chalecon of France and guide  Florian Michelon celebrated gold in the 12.5 km race, silver in 7.5 km and bronze in the pursuit.

Jaroslav Reshetynskyi of Ukraine, with guide Dmutro Drahan, also won three medals – silver in the 12.5 km and bronze in the 7.5 km and pursuit.

The Ukrainian team, with 23 athletes, won  20 medals (eight gold, seven silver, five bronze). Germanytotalled 13 medals (3-6-4 ), while the United States was third overall with eight (4-1-3).

Canadian sit-ski medal contender Colin Cameron, a native of Bracebridge, Ont.,who won gold in the 12.5 km biathlon in Prince George at the 2019 World Para Nordic Championships, was sidelined with sinus infection that kept him out of the Para Biathlon races. But he intends to race this week in the Para Nordic World Cup Finals at Otway, which starts with the 10 km middle distance biathlon race on Wednesday.

Three cross-country skiing events will follow. It starts with the five km classic on Thursday, freestyle sprints on Saturday and a 20 km freestyle race on Sunday.

Sit skier Ethan Hess of Pemberton and vision-impaired skier Leo Sammarelli of Vancouver will represent their home province in those races, along with Wilkie.

The other Canadians entered this week include: Emma Archibald of Fall River, N.S; Christina Picton of Fonthill, Ont; Lyne-Marie Bilodeau of Sherbrooke, Que; Jesse Bachinshy of Kenora, Ont; and Levi Nadlersmith (guide) of Boissevain, Man.