Paralympic Winter Games
04 - 13 March

Slovakian artist Martin France targets Winter Paralympic podium

Alpine skier to focus on painting career after last tilt at Paralympic glory in Beijing 09 Mar 2022
Slovakian Para Alpine skier Martin France in action
Slovakian Para Alpine skier Martin France in action at Beijing 2022
ⒸGetty Images

Martin France's apartment door in the Yanqing Athletes Village has nothing on it except a number – but not for long.

"Every Paralympics I make some painting to stick on the door," said the Slovakian standing Para Alpine skier and accomplished artist, who shares his room with vision impaired teammate Miroslav Haraus.

"It's not finished yet. I hope I will finish it and get it on the door. Maybe it will be some crazy dog, maybe two, because we are two crazy dogs. One more pretty, like me."

France, who was born with underdeveloped upper limbs, developed a love of drawing and painting when he was in school. 

Many years later, the creative impulse returned after his brother saw a canvas of a frog he liked on a visit to New York's Central Park and wanted to buy it. Hearing of the hefty price tag attached, France decided he would replicate the artwork himself and gift it to his sibling.

Once he had picked up a paintbrush again, he could not stop.

"I’ve been in art like 15 years but the last two years I started 100 per cent,” the 37-year-old said. "I sold three or four paintings last month, so it's pretty good. I would like to do it 100 per cent after the Paralympics.

"I just bought a new house, an old house. It's a ruin, but there is a place where I can paint." 

France draws inspiration from street art and graffiti, and particularly enjoys depicting animals. Frogs, big cats and birds are among his featured subjects.

Each painting takes at least two months to complete and there is a waiting list for prospective buyers.

"There are different things," he said. "Now I'm making the mask from the TV show La Casa De Papel (Money Heist) for my physio. It's different things, what people like, but I would like to paint more animals.

"The lion is my favourite, and I like monkeys. Maybe next I will paint a monkey."

Para Alpine Skiing has also made it into France's art in the form of an abstract mountain landscape and a portrait of compatriot Petra Vlhova, who won slalom gold at the Olympic Winter Games last month.

France is competing in four disciplines at the National Alpine Skiing Centre with his favourite, the giant slalom, next up on Thursday.

He finished fourth in giant slalom at three of his four previous Paralympic Winter Games and is eager to complete his skiing career by hanging a medal on the wall, next to his paintings.

"It is the biggest dream," he said.

"I'm mentally stronger since my first Paralympics (Turin 2006), so the mental aspect is good and it's the last Paralympics for me.

"If I win medal, I will finish and if I don't win the medal...I finish also."