Prince Albert’s two-time Paralympian Brittany Hudak virtually returned to where her para-Nordic journey began on Saturday.
Thanks to Canadian Tire’s Red Door, a life-sized video call device, Hudak was able to virtually visit the Prince Albert Canadian Tire where she used to work, and was surprised by her family and friends. While working at that location, Hudak met Canadian Paralympian Colette Bourgonje who encouraged Hudak to pursue skiing. That interaction started Hudak on her Paralympic path, and she has since competed at Sochi in 2014 and, now, in PyeongChang.
With all the pressure that presents itself during a world-stage sporting event like the Paralympics, the surprise virtual visit from back home helped settle Hudak’s nerves.
“I was definitely feeling a little overwhelmed, but so much excitement,” Hudak said. “It really makes it easier to just feel ready to perform and do my best and know that so many people are rooting for me.”
Although more than 40 people joined Hudak at the Canadian Tire to share their encouragement, it’s safe to say it meant the most to her parents Dave and Rhonda. Hudak's parents said their daughter's success has been inspiring to them.
“She’s the most fun-loving, and has the best attitude, of anyone I know. She’s my hero,” Dave said. “I’ve told other people that if I find that [something] is too hard, I think of what she has to deal with. ‘Yeah, suck it up and do it.’ To me, she’s an inspiration.”
“You want your kids succeed, but she has so passed what I thought she would be,” Rhonda said. “She never says ‘can you help me’ or ‘I can’t do it.’ She just does it."
Hudak said she hasn’t just received support from back home, as there is lots of red and white in the crowds at PyeongChang.
“Knowing that we have such a great cheer squad in the stands and knowing that we have an entire country behind us, it’s a pretty incredible feeling,” Hudak said. “Being on the world stage and knowing you’re competing on the highest level of sport is pretty surreal.”
The events have already started for Hudak, who finished eighth overall in the 6-km standing biathlon.
“I would say overall it went very well. The thing that shocked me the most was that I missed two shots. I know that sounds maybe a little bit funny, but my shooting the last couple of years has really improved,” Hudak said. “This entire season I have missed two shots, so the fact I missed two shots in one race, I was a little disappointed with it. Again, there’s such a big crowd and a lot going on, I think I allowed myself to be distracted in the range. All it takes is that split second and you release the trigger at the wrong time and you miss the shot.”
Hudak has a busy schedule for the Paralympics. She still has the 10-kilometre and 12.5-kilometre biathlon races to complete, as well as the 1.5-km, 7.5-km and the 15-km cross-country skiing races.
--With files from Tyler Marr.
On Twitter: @jeff_paNOW
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