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.
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