The home town came out in force to cheer on Paralympic skier Natalie Wilkie at the SASCU Recreation Centre as she raced her way to the gold medal in the Women’s 7.5km Classic, Standing at the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympics. Wilkie finished the race with a final time of 22:12.2 while fellow Canadian Emily Young finished in the bronze medal spot with a time of 22:13.9. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Video: Natalie Wilkie wins gold in Women’s 7.5km ski race as hometown cheers her on

Salmon Arm skier takes home her second medal of the PyeongChang Paralympics

After her first ever Paralympic medal win on March 13 in the Women’s 1.5km Sprint ski race, finishing a mere 0.1 seconds behind the silver medal spot to take the bronze, Natalie Wilkie of Salmon Arm had her sights set on the upcoming 7.5km race. Reported to be her strongest distance by fellow members of the Larch Hills Nordic Ski Club, Wilkie was undoubtedly expected to have a strong showing in the race.

However, not many foresaw what happened next as Wilkie came into the final stretch of the race with a clear lead on the competition. The 17-year-old skier, who lost most of the fingers in her left hand during an accident in 2016, crossed the finish line with a time of 22:12.2, securing her first gold medal in the Paralympics while fellow Canadian Emily Young trailed close behind for a bronze medal finish.

Wilkie collapsed in an exuberant, exhausted heap with a massive smile on her face almost immediately after crossing the finish line as the crowd in PyeongChang went wild in support of the talented young skier.

Over 8,000km away, Wilkie’s hometown shared in the excitement, hosting a live viewing party of the 7.5km race that displayed truly how proud the community is of their newly minted Paralympic gold medalist. The auditorium at the SASCU Recreation Centre was packed with excited friends, family and fans, many of them dressed in red and white and carrying signs emblazoned with the words ‘go Natalie go!’

Jennifer Henrie, who helped to organize and promote the viewing party, says “I’m so excited to see so much red and white here! I know there is a lot of support and it’s nice to see the people that have come out. It’s so exciting to see, I think it was so wonderful that she got the bronze in the sprint, I think she completely surprised everybody. She’s such a down to earth kid and it’s amazing to see her take it all in stride.”

Marcia Beckner, who knows Wilkie through the Larch Hills ski club, remarked that it was inspiring to see people who otherwise had no affiliation with the skier come out simply to support and encourage her.

This is awesome, her whole family is here, grandparents, her dad’s coming and sisters and stuff, and the whole gang here,” Beckner says. “Some people that don’t have anything to do with cross country skiing just are here for Natalie.”

Beckner adds that seeing Wilkie and other Paralympians perform at such a high level of competition makes her extremely proud of how far she has come.

“When we look at all these handicapped skiers in the Paralympics, it just makes you so proud of them because I mean us able bodied ones, it’s all we can do to ski and they’re just amazing.”

Before leaving for PyeongChang, Wilkie expressed her feelings of humble gratitude to a community that has risen to support her overwhelmingly.

“I’ve been really surprised by how involved the community is in my journey and sending me off,” Wilkie said. “The community is really into this, it’s pretty exciting for me. Thanks for being so involved in helping me on my way, I don’t think I would be as excited to do this if I didn’t know I had everyone behind me cheering me on and watching me on TV, it makes a big difference.”


 

@Jodi_Brak117
jodi.brak@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Woman brings mortar round to Shuswap RCMP detachment

Chase officers contact the Canadian Forces to dispose of the suspected explosive device

Dancing with Shuswap Stars attracts Rust Valley Restorers

TV show stars join quest to hone some fancy footwork

Sicamous officials optimistic in the face of Waterway Houseboats closure

Mayor and chamber of commerce concerned for staff who lost jobs

Open house to reveal proposed changes to Balmoral intersection on Trans-Canada Highway

The South Shuswap Chamber of Commerce has already provided input to the ministry

Salmon Arm residents learn how to protect properties from wildfire

Removing debris from forest floor can help stop fires from spreading

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Suspect in police chase rams fire hydrant in Kelowna

Water is flooding Highway 33 in Kelowna Monday afternoon

Judas Priest rocks the Okanagan

Judas Priest is on a 32 date tour of North America

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Restrictive policies affecting labour mobility for care aides in B.C.

‘I had to take two competency exams and pay over $1,400,’ said an Okanagan care aide

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Most Read