Brothers Mac and BJ Marcoux reunited as an athlete and guide pairing in 2015, winning their first world title in downhill on home snow at the IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in Panorama, Canada.
The siblings had missed out on competing at their first Paralympic Games together just 12 months before at Sochi 2014. BJ was suffering from a bulging disc in his back, which meant he had to withdraw, missing out on his brother winning gold in the giant slalom and bronze in downhill and super-G with replacement guide Robin Femy.
The Marcoux’s gold and super-G silver in men’s visually impaired races at the World Championships is No. 14 in the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Top 50 Moments of 2015.
“Coming out of Panorama with gold meant the world to us,” 18-year-old Mac said. “The first place finish in the downhill was extremely special because it was our first gold medal together on the world stage. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity and the support behind us from CPAST [Canada Paralympic alpine ski team], our families, our community, and our country. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without all of the hard work and effort from the staff that gave us the proper training environments and fixing us when we are broken.”
BJ’s injury had originally spilled into the 2014-15 season. bBut when it came to Panorama, it looked like all the set backs had been overcome. Ahead of the World Championships, the pair won the overall men’s visually impaired World Cup, placing them in pole position to reach the podium.
But there was to be further problems. Mac himself got injured just days before the Worlds, picking up a knee complaint, but the pair remained determined to put on a good show for their home fans.
“We had a tough season as we fumbled back and fourth between guides as BJ was recovering from his pre-existing back injury,” Mac said. “I felt that we were carrying good momentum out of the World Cup season and had good energy as we pushed into World Champs.
“The knee injury I sustained a week prior to the first downhill training day was a major setback for us. My leg was not very stable with a fresh tear in the meniscus. Even though my injury was still very fresh we decided to give it a go in the downhill because we were very confident that if my leg held up and we skied well we could carry the good energy from the World Cups to a possible podium at World Champs.”
The brothers did indeed manage to carry their momentum, attracting national media attention when they won gold in the downhill. Their next medal came in the super-G before they decided to withdraw from the rest of the competition, not wanting to aggravate BJ’s knee injury.
“There is a lot of things that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that we can be the best we can be when it counts,” Mac said. “We spend countless hours in the gym through the off season to make sure that we prepare ourselves the best we can for the season to come. This time in the gym allows us to push harder every day on snow. We spend our pre-season on snow developing skills. We work with our sports physiologist developing and working on the mental aspects of ski racing. We spend hours and hours working with our physio staff to ensure that we are good and healthy for our long camps. With the amount of time we spend in each other’s ears there is always going to be times where things are not smooth going especially with such a performance based sport.”
Mac also admits that sometimes skiing at such a high level with a member of your family can be challenging: “As you would expect we have our average sibling disagreements. We are very passionate about what we do, sometimes things don’t go as we plan on the hill and the level of frustration gets high. We end up taking this frustration out on each other. The best part about having your brother as a guide is that we have grown up arguing and had our fair share of disagreements but we always get over them fast and stay focused on what we have to do. For siblings, we work exceptionally well together and enjoy each other’s company.”
To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2015, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.