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Salmon Arm skier Natalie Wilkie celebrates birthday with World Championship gold

Two-time Paralympian nabs her first ever biathlon medal
Salmon Arm’s Natalie Wilkie celebrating after winning a gold medal March 9 in the sprint event at the Zhangjiakou Biathlon Centre during the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. She has more to celebrate after winning gold in the biathlon event at the 2023 World Championships on her birthday. (Nordiq Canada image)

Salmon Arm skier Natalia Wilkie celebrated her birthday in a big way: by winning a gold medal.

Wilkie is competing on Canada’s Para Nordic team at the 2023 World Championships in Oestersund, Sweden. The biathlon women’s competition happened to take place on Wilkie’s birthday, and she got her birthday wish.

Skiing fast and missing just one out of 10 shots in the 7.5 kilometre race, Wilkie won her first biathlon medal at the premier event in a non-Paralympic year with a time of 22:43:5.

““A great birthday present,” said Wilkie in a release. “I woke up this morning hoping for a podium and taking the gold medal today, so it was a special way to celebrate.”

Wilkie has seven medals from her two past trips to the Paralympic Games, proving she’s a podium threat in biathlon competitions.

“The difference for me in biathlon this year has been taking myself less seriously when I race. I used to get very stressed out in the range so this year I’ve been trying to shift my mindset to see shooting as something more fun than stressful,” added Wilkie. “Now I tell myself the range is just a place I get to take a break in the middle of the race to hit some targets.”

Canada’s Para Nordic Team collected four medals in the biathlon event. Wilkie’s teammate Collin Cameron, from Bracebridge, Ont., won gold in men’s sit-skiing. Brittany Hudak, from Prince Albert, Sask., nabbed a silver medal in the biathlon event and Mark Arendz from Hartsville, P.E.I., won a silver medal for his men’s standing performance at his tenth World Championship showing.

READ MORE: Salmon Arm Paralympic skier nabs silver medal at World Cup opener in Finland

READ MORE: Salmon Arm Paralympian Natalie Wilkie reflects on expectations, success at 2022 Games


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Rebecca Willson

About the Author: Rebecca Willson

I took my first step into the journalism industry in November 2022 when I moved to Salmon Arm to work for the Observer and Eagle Valley News. I graduated with a journalism degree in December 2021 from MacEwan University in Edmonton.
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