Salmon Arm athlete’s gold rush continues in thrilling Paralympic Games sprint – Lake Country Calendar

Natalie Wilkie of Salmon Arm continued her thrilling gold rush at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, China.

Following her gold medal on March 7 when she dominated the women’s 15-kilometre classic ski race, 21-year-old Wilkie took the podium in the women’s standing sprint race at the Zhangjiakou Biathlon Center.

Wilkie passed four of the six athletes in her race as she set off on the long climb. Then, in a thrilling finish, she passed Norway’s Vilde Nilsen as they made their way to the stadium.

“I’m in shock. It’s unreal to win the gold medal,” Wilkie said, according to a Nordiq Canada press release. “I knew before that I had a really good shot, but so much happens in the sprint that there is never a guarantee.

“Norway had this massive lead until the finish chute where I passed Vilde. It feels good to say that I am now a three-time Paralympic champion.”

The two gold medals from 2022 add to her set of gold, silver and bronze from the 2018 Games. There she won gold in the middle distance, silver in the relay and bronze in the sprint events.

Back in Salmon Arm, her local team, the Larch Hills Nordic Ski Club, watched her race on the big screen in the Larch Hills chalet and gathered outside to create an enthusiastic video for her.

The club announced on its Facebook page that the Salmar Theater will broadcast two of Wilkie’s races live, which will be open to the public. They will be broadcast on Thursday March 10 at 7:45 p.m. and Friday March 11 at 6:50 p.m.

Hot on the heels of Wilkie’s triumph on March 9, 42-year-old Brian McKeever of Canmore, who competed in the Reino Keski Salmi Loppet in Larch Hills, picked up his 11th consecutive individual gold medal. With guide Russell Kennedy, he won the men’s sprint race for the visually impaired.

“The sprint is our hardest event to win. The older you get, the less pure speed you have left,” McKeever remarked in the press release.

Athletes will take the day off before competition resumes on Friday March 11 with the biathlon distance events.

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