This past weekend Canadian and American Para-Nordic athletes competed in a combination biathlon/cross-country ski World Cup in Bessan, France. 140 athletes from 20 different nations competed in four events, comprising of two biathlon races and two cross-country races.
North American skiers performed very well.
Andy Soule put more points in his pocket to pad his overall leaders position in this year’s World Cup biathlon series.
Soule skied a great race on Saturday, and only missed 2 shots in the range to end up 3rd in Bessan’s long distance Biathlon race.
Trygve Larsen the winner shot clean in all 4 stages. Andy is skiing faster and faster as the season goes on, and his ski time gets closer to the fastest skiers in the race.
Soule ended up 3rd overall. He also finished 4th in the biathlon sprint event on Thursday.
All athletes advanced to the Quarterfinals in the cross-country sprint. Chris Klebl and Sean Halsted advanced to the Semi finals with Halsted taking 4th and Klebl 5th overall.
Klebl just missed the podium in the final race of the weekend – the 10km cross-country. He was 4th, less than 20 seconds out of 3rd. Halstead was not far behind in 6th, and Soule gave the US three skiers in the top 8 with his 8th place finish.
Monica Bascio took 9th in the 5km L10-12 class while Kelly Underkofler was 10th in the 5km L2-9.
Canada’s Para-Nordic cross-country ski athletes capped off a strong opening week at the IPC World Cup by winning a gold and bronze medal in Bessan, France on Sunday.
Collette Bourgonje, of Saskatoon, captured the first gold medal for Canada on the season after winning the women’s middle distance sit-ski race with a time of 18 minutes 29.9 seconds. Bourgonje, who has won four medals in her five trips to the Paralympic Winter Games, captured her first IPC win since 2008.
“I felt really strong today and had great skis on fast and busy race course,” said Bourgonje. “Training at Mount Shark this year in Canmore has certainly helped me. Watching the Canadian flag go up and hearing our national anthem play is a moment in time that I will not forget.”
Canada’s journey to the podium continued in the women’s standing race where Jody Barber, of Smithers, B.C., captured her second medal of the week. Barber, who won a silver in the first biathlon competition on Thursday, won the bronze in the middle distance cross-country ski race. Barber stopped the clock at 22:18.5.
“I really wanted to race my own race and to focus on technique and effort, and not be worrying about what everyone else was doing,” said Barber. “I was really pleased with how it went. There is always room for improvement but this race showed me what I need to work on.”
Oleksandra Kononova, of the Ukraine, won the women’s standing division with a time of 20:52.4.
Meanwhile, Mark Arendz, of Springton, P.E.I., capped off his best week on the IPC World Cup with a fifth-place finish in the men’s standing class after posting a time of 30:41.1. IIkka Tuomisto, of Finland, finished on top at 29:07.4.
Other Canadian finishers on Sunday included: Alexi Novikov and Jamie Stirling, of Ottawa, in 15th (37:51.8) in men’s visually impaired category; Tyler Mosher, of Whistler, B.C., in 16th (33:05.0) in men’s standing; Quebec’s Sebastien Fortier in 17th (37:22.0); Lou Gibson, of Langley, B.C., in 25h (39:22.1) and Quebec’s Charles Moreau in 28th (43:33.8) in the men’s sit-ski race. Robbi Weldon and Brian Berry, of Thunder Bay, Ont., finished eighth at 24:15.9; Ottawa’s Margarita Gourbonova and Robert D’Arras was ninth at 25:27.0; and Vancouver’s Courtney Knight and Andrea Bundon was 12th (28:10.5) in the women’s visually impaired division.