Victory begins at home for Mark Arendz

Paralympic champion celebrated by community ahead of new season

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Winning Paralympic Nordic skiing medals in PyeongChang has meant more than just receiving silverware for Canada's Mark Arendz. His outstanding achievement in taking home six medals from South Korea, including gold in the 15km biathlon individual, has now been recognised by his own community.

Prince Edward Island, where he was born and raised, is now home to the 'Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park at Brookvale'. They also awarded him their highest honour: The Order of Prince Edward Island.

"It has been a tremendous honour this year to receive this. After my accident when I seven years old, I quickly witnessed how a community comes together through a traumatic time. Since then I have always been driven to give back to that community," said Arendz.

"More recently I understood that the pride I give the community for my success is one of the greatest things I can pass along. To return home and share my experiences and the Paralympic medals is something so special. It is one of the reasons I enjoy what I do."

Raring to go

As the new season approaches with the Vuokatti World Cup beginning in Finland on Wednesday (12 December), he is eager to put himself to the test once again in the standing category.

"I’m excited to get to Vuokatti and officially kick off the World Cup season. I’ve competed several times in Canmore since October, but it is always that next level of excitement to be racing in the World Cup. The momentum from last year is quite high, and I hope to continue that into this new season."

But Arendz’s main focus is the World Championships which are being held in Canada for the first time in Prince George next February.

"This season the focus has been squarely placed on performing in February at World Championships on home soil. The training and competitions will be all set up in preparation for Worlds. The World Cup in Vuokatti gives me an opportunity to fine tune my race preparations."

Love of biathlon

Arendz's passion for sport started at an early age when he discovered biathlon.

"I did hesitate at the first opportunity to shoot. A week later the opportunity was offered again. This time I did it, hitting four out of five targets and I was hooked!” he explained.

“That passion has only intensified over the years. There are always times when shooting will frustrate, but the passion for the sport never fades."

But he admits he did not feel the same about the skiing element of the sport.

"On the cross-country side it took much longer to find the passion. I struggled a lot with my classic and that hindered the enjoyment,” he said.

“Once I put in the time to improve, I began to enjoy classic skiing, which in turn helped me improve. As this occurred, I started to realise my strength in classic skiing. I now dare to call myself a classic biathlon specialist."