Lynn-Marie Bilodeau ended her international season as it began: with a smile on her face and above all with a sense of accomplishment. At the Para-Nordic Ski World Cup in Soldier Hollow, Utah, the Sherbrooke resident placed fourth on Thursday after a grueling 20-kilometer race in the seated freestyle.
“It was very demanding, but the long-distance athlete in me and my many years in triathlon helped me out today (Thursday)!” Bilodeau exclaimed with his usual sense of humor in an interview with Sportcom.
In the end, the Beijing Paralympian covered the distance in 1 hour 25 minutes 10.5 seconds to finish 4th in the event won by quadruple Paralympic medalist Kendall Gretsch (1 hour 6 minutes 18 4 seconds). The latter was followed by Germany’s Anya Wicker (1 hour 9 minutes 19.6 seconds) and her compatriot from the United States Irene Martin (1 hour 21 minutes 28.4 seconds).
Bilodeau continued, “It was the first time in my World Cup career that I participated in this event, and I am happy to complete it. It was not easy and I had to rely on my energies, but it ended my international season well!”
The 21-year-old also ran the 800m, as well as the 5km freestyle earlier in the event, finishing fifth in both heats dominated by Gretsch. Although she admitted she was “a bit surprised” to finish so close to the podium, especially in the sprint, Bilodeau didn’t miss the opportunity to show her progress on American tracks last week.
“I wasn’t expecting to qualify for the final in the sprint, so I took advantage of it and it was really fun! Then I did the best race I could do over 5km and I couldn’t be happier with that. The best,” she analyzed, the person who won two bronze medals in Vuokatti, as the curtain-raiser of the World Cup calendar.
Before leaving her sled to enjoy a well-deserved rest, Lyne-Marie Bilodeau will compete in two Canadian Championship races, which will be held March 11-17, in Thunder Bay, Ontario. After that, she will return to Quebec to join her family, with whom she will spend a month in Portugal.
She wants to “get as much as possible” in order to come back as high as possible to set the yearly plan in May. And even if next season is still a long way off, Bilodeau is adamant: She will come back stronger on the Semi-Nordic ski courses.
“I always aim for the long run and want to keep up the good momentum. Technically, I know I still have a lot to learn, and physically, I will have to gain muscle mass. Anyway, I keep learning to the best of my ability and my confidence is always higher, so it’s a sign very good for the future,”