WHISTLER, BC, March 20 /CNW Telbec/ - A trio of Canadian women came up a hair short in their quest for the podium after finishing fourth in a cross-country skiing relay race at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Whistler, B.C.
Saskatoon's Colette Bourgonje, Jody Barber, of Smithers, B.C., and Robbi Weldon, along with her guide Brian Berry - who both ski out of Thunder Bay, Ont. - combined to clock a solid fourth-place time of 22 minutes 21.2 seconds in the women's 3x2.5-kilometre relay.
"Wow that was just so much fun out there to be racing with these girls," said Bourgonje, who has a silver and bronze medal to her credit this week, bringing her career Paralympic medal total to 10. "The snow conditions were rock hard and fast, but I felt good and I think that was a really good showing for us today."
Starting with a sizeable per centage disadvantage to her competitors on the startline, Bourgonje set the pace in the lead leg after completing the sit-ski course with the sixth fastest time. A visually impaired skier, Weldon clocked the third fastest time in the second classic-ski leg to move the Canadians into contention for the podium. Barber, who along with Weldon is competing in her first Paralympics, powered her way down the stretch to put the Canadians in fourth spot after a strong skate-ski anchor lap.
"The course was so fast today, and we just fought as hard as we could," said Barber. "This whole experience has been amazing, and it was so much fun to race the relay this morning."
The powerful Russians won the women's race with a time of 20:23.2, while team Ukraine locked up the silver medal with a time of 20:42.7. Belarus rounded out the women's podium in third with a time of 22:04.2.
Meanwhile, two Canucks who represent the future success of Para-Nordic sports in the country, Mark Arendz and Sebastien Fortier, teamed up with Tyler Mosher, of Whistler, B.C., to finish seventh in the men's 1x4 km plus 2x5 km relay.
"We had little expectations coming into this event because this is the first time we've done a relay together with the three of us," said Arendz, who is from Springton, P.E.I. "Our goal was to do as best we can and be respectable. I was really happy with my performance and managed to pick up a spot for us."
The 20-year-old Arendz skied the anchor position, while the 23-year-old Fortier, of Charlesbourg, Que., opened the race. The Canadians finished with a combined time of 43 minutes 52.0 seconds.
Russia won the men's race with a time of 38:54.8. Ukraine skied to the silver medal after punching the clock at 39:16.7, while Norway hung on for the bronze medal with a time of 39:49.9.
Canadian Para-Nordic skiers have combined to win two gold, one silver and one bronze medal at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. The Nordic events wrap up on Sunday at Whistler Paralympic Park with the men's and women's sprint events.
About the Canadian Paralympic Committee
The Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) is a non-profit, private organization with 43 member sports organizations dedicated to strengthening the Paralympic Movement. The CPC is responsible for creating an optimal high-performance environment for the Canadian Paralympic athletes to win at Paralympic and ParaPanAmerican Games. By supporting Canadian Paralympic athletes and promoting their success, the CPC inspires all Canadians with a physical disability to get involved in sport through programs delivered by its member organisations. For more information, visit www.paralympic.ca.
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COMPLETE RESULTS: http://www.vancouver2010.com/paralympic-games/schedule---results/
SOURCE Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC)
For further information: For further information: Chris Dornan, Media Attache - Nordic Skiing, Canadian Paralympic Committee, T: (281) 703-4394