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World champion Arendz continues to clobber competition in biathlon

Para Nordic World Cup win guarantees Prince Edward Islander his second FIS Crystal Globe

As the jackrabbit everybody was chasing Wednesday on the course at Otway Nordic Centre, Canada’s Mark Arendz earned the privilege of wearing the orange bib that designates the points leader in the Para Nordic World Cup biathlon standings.

As it turned out, nobody in that 10-kilometre men’s standing class race at the Para Nordic World Cup Finals had what it took to dethrone Arednz and keep him from winning his second-straight Crystal Globe as FIS points champion.

The 34-year-old native of Hartsville, P.E.I., said clinching his first World Cup title last year at Soldier Hollow, Utah came as an unexpected bonus, but there’s nothing like being on top of the world as a season champion when it happens in Canada.

On a brilliant sunny and warm day on the slopes, Arendz made up for his one missed target and was perfect on the next three trips into the range, shooting 19-for-20 in the race while clocking 27:42.0.

“I had a little bit of rocky start with one miss right at the start but just kept plugging away at it and the strength of consistent shooting and skiing brought my seventh win of the season,” said Arendz.

“When I first started I was looking up to guys capable of doing feats like this, the undefeated season, and now I’m one of those guy,s so that feels really special. It sounds strange but it was just copy and paste, the same plan has been working well for me in the distance races with strong aggressive starts and  keeping the pressure on. This year the shooting results have been strong and positive and when I did falter like I did in the first bout, just being able to rely on the skiing to come through as well.”

Serhii Romaniuk of Ukraine (28:37.5, 0-1-0-0) won silver and Marco Maier of Germany (29:34.5, 2-0-1-0) was the bronze medalist.

The IPC World Cup Crystal Globe Trophy is a glass replica of planet Earth about the size of the large grapefruit mounted on a stand. Arendz is going to have make some more space on his mantlepiece for his third Crystal Globe, having won it in 2013 and 2023..

“To win a Globe at home is something not all athletes get to do and I’m really lucky to be able to do that here today,” said Arendz.

“It’s really special. It’s not just the performance in a week you get with games of championships, which are fantastic in themselves, and you build that consistency throughout the year with experience,’ he said. “The pressure starts to add near the end of the year when you start thinking about it.”

In the women’s standing race, Liudmyla Liashenko of Ukraine won her third gold medal in five days of racing para biathlon events at Otway and wrapped up her Crystal Globe title .

After two gold and two silver last week in the Para Biathlon World Championships, despite four misses on the range on Wednesday  Liashenko finished the 10 km course in 31:20.9, winning by 17.8 seconds ahead of Ukrainian teammates Bohdana Konashuk (0-4-0-0, 31:38.7) and Olexandra Konaschuk (1-0-0-0, 32:04.7).

Natalie Wilkie of Salmon Arm was fifth (1-0-0-0, 32:41.0) and Brittany Hudak of Prince Albert, Sask., was sixth (0-1-1-1, 33:01.8).

“My goal today was clean shooting so I wasn’t happy with the miss in my first bout but I made extra sure not to miss in any of the following bouts,” said Wilkie.

“I started pretty hard on the first lap and I think maybe that’s why I missed because I went too hard. I continued to build my speed and the course got slushy and harder to ski, the corners were getting so chopped up so it became difficult to navigate those, but it was pretty fun, the snow is fast today and I was happy with how I paced myself.”

other race winners Wednesday were: Women’s sitting - Anja Wicker, Germany, (0-0-0-0, 535:32.5); men’s sitting – Taras Rad, Ukraine (0-0-0-0, 31:26.7); vision impaired women – Linn Kazmeier, Germany (0-1-0-0, 33:36.4); vision impaired men – Olexsandr Kazik, Ukraine (0-0-1-1, 29:23.4).

In the men's siting race, Collin Cameron of Bracebridge, Ont. was fourth (0-0-0-0, 32:14.8) and Derek Zaplotinsky of Smoky Lake, Alta., was sixth (0-1-0-1, 32:49.9).

The next three races are cross-country events, starting with the five km classic race Thursday. Saturday’s race is a freestyle sprint and the competition wraps up Sunday with a 20 km mass start freestyle.

The Para Nordic Word Cup Finals race schedule is here.