Paralympic and Olympic veterans lead new generation of cross-country skiers

(Thomas Lovelock/OIS/IOC via AP)

(Thomas Lovelock/OIS/IOC via AP)

Nordiq Canada - CANMORE, Alta.—A young group of Paralympic and Olympic veterans will carry the torch for a new generation of cross-country skiers who will make up the National Ski Team in 2019-2020, Nordiq Canada announced on Saturday.

Poised to make their mark on the international stage at all levels of the sport, the determined crop of cross-country skiers will be focused on building towards the 2022 and 2026 Games.

A high-powered group of eight Paralympic medallists, including two guides, will be counted on to contribute to Canada’s medal haul over the next year on the Para Senior Ski Team. Canada’s flag bearers at the 2018 Paralympic Games, Brian McKeever (Canmore, Alta.) and Mark Arendz (Hartsville, P.E.I.) will lead the charge in Para-Nordic racing. They will be joined by a foursome of new stars who have emerged in the sport that includes: Collin Cameron (Sudbury, Ont.); Natalie Wilkie (Salmon Arm, B.C.); Emily Young (Vancouver); and Brittany Hudak (Prince Albert, Sask.).

A three-time Paralympic medallist, Cameron captured his first World Championship title last year. Wilkie, who backed up winning a set of Paralympic medals in 2018 with a silver at last year’s World Championships, will team up with two veterans of the Para Senior Ski Team in Young and Hudak. Both have consistently climbed onto the international podium over the last five years. Derek Zaplotinksy (Smokey Lake, Alta.) will compete on the Para Senior Ski Team for the first time in 2019-20. Zaplotinsky rattled off three, fifth-place finishes at the 2019 World Championships.

Matthew Achtymichuk