Hudak excited to head to China for third Paralympics

Prince Albert's Brittany Hudak won bronze at the 2018 Winter Olympics. --Picture from Canada Paralympic website.

Prince Albert’s Brittany Hudak is no stranger to the Paralympics.

After making her debut in 2014 in Sochi, and capturing bronze in 2018 in Pyeongchang, experience will be on her side as she heads to Beijing to compete in her third Paralympic Games.

“Coming into my third Paralympics, it provides some relief knowing what to expect,” Hudak said. “I had only been skiing for two years when I managed to qualify for Sochi. That was an amazing opportunity to go and experience what the game are like. When I returned in 2018, I already had the experience under my belt, and I knew what the games are about.”

Three biathlon races and two cross country races are what’s on the agenda for Hudak. The races range from six to 15 kilometres in length. The altitude will be higher in China, and Hudak has spent a lot of time focusing on her breathing to compensate for the lower oxygen levels on the hills of Beijing.

“When you’re exerting yourself at a higher altitude with less oxygen in the air, you can feel more out of breath,” Hudak said. “You have to be very strategic with your pacing and understand that there are different physiological effects of racing at that altitude. That’s been a big focus for our team heading in, is making sure we have good altitude exposure.”

After bringing home a bronze medal four years ago, the 28 year old says it’s easy to set high goals for herself heading into China. However, Hudak took a more realistic approach as she explained her expectations.

“With every four year cycle, there’s always new competitors,” she said. “We all have the same goal in mind, and we’re working towards the same thing. I don’t want to put my thumb on it and say ‘I’m going to finish with silver in this race’. I think that mentality doesn’t work very well for me.

“I would be really satisfied to go to the games and feel like my races demonstrate the training that I’ve done. If I can have those personal best performances where I feel like I’ve executed everything to the best of my ability, that’s more satisfying.”

While she’ll be facing some new competition this year, Hudak will be focusing on her own efforts once she hits the snow. Once she finds her rhythm on the hills, she says trusting her own process will be the key to success.

“I think I do a lot better when I’m focused on my own goals and what I need to do,” she explained. “That typically results in the best performance that I can have. There’s so much that you can’t control. As I’ve progressed in the sport, I turned to focusing on what I can control. If I’m in the right mindset, I trust that I’ll have a good day.”

The 2022 Paralympics kick off on March 4 and end on March 13.