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Salmon Arm’s Natalie Wilkie earns bronze in world cup competition

Shuswap talent posts third-fastest qualification time for event
Natalie Wilkie skis during the Para Nordic Championships in Prince George. (Cross Country Canada photo)

Salmon Arm cross-country skiing talent Natalie Wilkie made the podium earlier this month in a battle for the world cup in Europe.

Wilkie was not the only Canadian to find themselves on the podium at the competition in Dresden, Germany on Jan. 13. Canadian Para-Nordic Team leader Brian McKeever sprinted to the silver medal in the men’s visually impaired category. Three-time Paralympic medallist Wilkie grabbed her second sprint podium of the season with a bronze medal.

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Wilkie posted the third-fastest qualification time in her two trips around the 500 meter course. She came into the final with the top three athletes in each heat after taking control of her semifinal round where she was first to cross the line.

Based on her classification, Wilkie started at the back of the pack and ran out of real estate in a hard-fought battle against the top athletes in the world, crossing the line in third place.

Wilkie raced alongside her other Canadian friends Brittany Hudak and Emily Young. Hudak, from Prince Albert, Sask., also qualified for the heats but was forced to the sidelines after coming in fourth in the semifinals.

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Young had a strong showing for her first World Cup race of the season, ultimately finishing in fifth place by the end of the competition.

Despite her friends not making it as far as they had hoped, Wilkie enjoyed the experience of competing alongside them all the same.

“It was a great day. Brittany, Emily and I all made it into the semis so I found we were bouncing off of each other’s energy all day,” Wilkie said. “Emily and I were working well together in the final as well. I just knew the course so well here. I skied it a lot and I felt good all day.”


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