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Salmon Arm’s Natalie Wilkie captures gold at 2022 Paralympic Winter Games

Wilkie: ‘This is for sure one of the best races that I have ever done’

Salmon Arm’s Natalie Wilkie has done it again, claiming her fourth Paralympic medal, this one gold.

Wilkie, 21, dominated in the women’s 15-kilometre classic-ski race at the Beijing Paralympics March 7, winning with a time of 48:04.8.

“I did it. I just went hard and waited for everyone to catch me, but nobody did. I am so happy,” said Wilkie, in a media release from Nordiq Canada.

Wilkie kept increasing her lead while remaining steady and composed throughout her three loops.

“It is unreal. I went into this race trying not to think about the end result but to focus on the process and ski as well as I could. I was completely surprised that my coaches kept yelling splits at me that I was in the lead. I just kept building from there and tried not to let it get into my head. At the end of the day that was enough to win the gold medal. This is for sure one of the best races that I have ever done.”

In the 2018 Paralympics as a 17-year-old, Wilkie won gold in the middle distance, silver in the relay and a bronze in the sprint events.

Again on the podium was a skier well-known at Larch Hills, Brian McKeever and his guide Russell Kennedy.

Described in the media release as Canada’s most accomplished winter Paralympic athlete, McKeever added another gold to his legendary Paralympic career, bringing his total to 14 after a victory in the men’s visually impaired classic-ski race.

“It was great today. These races are never easy. Today was the result of good teamwork with fantastic skis,” said McKeever, 42, who won the last four Paralympic 20-kilometre races.

“We made a stressful decision to go without kick wax on a classic day and use only double pole. When we realized that was the right call, then it was just fun. Sometimes the risks pay off in big ways, and today was one of those.”

Read more: Photos: Salmon Arm celebrates Paralympic champion Natalie Wilkie

Read more: Paralympic champion Natalie Wilkie honoured with fixture at former school

Read more: 2018 - Salmon Arm community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal
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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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