“It is exciting to start the season right here in my backyard. I hope there will be a loud, cheering crowd throughout the races. My family and friends will be helping or watching the competitions which will be awesome.”
It will be an important season for all Nordic skiers with PyeongChang 2018 approaching fast, but for Canada’s Mark Arendz it will be extra special. Not only does he have the Paralympic Winter Games to look forward to from 9-18 March but he also gets to start the season at home.
The 2017-18 World Cup series will kick off in Canmore on 9 December.
“It is exciting to start the season right here in my backyard,” said the two-time World champion. “I look forward to having the other athletes arrive and enjoy the breath-taking scenery and world-class venue that we have here in Canmore.”
Arendz feels really excited to be racing again in front of his home crowd.
“I hope there will be a loud, cheering crowd throughout the races. My family and friends will be helping or watching the competitions which will be awesome.”
There are many advantages for Arendz racing at home but there are some difficulties too.
“The most challenging part of racing a World Cup at home is the switch between any other training day and a World Cup race day,” he explained. “It was something I learned four years ago when the last World Cup was here in Canmore.”
“What helps is when the other nations start to arrive, it then starts to have that ‘World Cup’ or competition feel to it. That helps to get into the ‘go’ mindset you need to compete.”
Although very happy to be racing in Canada, it is also a crucial part of his preparation for the bigger goal: the Winter Paralympics.
“The first few races of the season have gone well. I feel that the preparations over the summer and autumn have been exactly what I wanted. These early races are all about ensuring that every piece of my competition preparation is perfect,” he said.
“The races are about making the finer tweaks to get everything coming together. I hope to be close to my best in December, but my ultimate focus is on the Paralympic Winter Games in March.”
One to watch
Newly named as one of International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Nordic Skiing’s Ones To Watch, Arendz enjoyed remarkable success at the World Championships last February. He medalled in all three biathlon races taking two golds and one silver.
He also won two bronze medals in cross country in the 10km and Open Relay. With five medals from six races, he has become one of the favourites to win gold in PyeongChang.
“The World Championship in Finsterau gave me a lot of confidence that my training was set up well for performance. It was a busy week for me with six races; I learned a lot about how I should balance the competitions and recovery to be at my best for the next race. Staying focused on the moment or what I had to do that day and not looking too far ahead was a key point for me. I want to focus on the process, not the result.”
Arendz already has two Paralympic medals from Sochi 2014 where he won silver in the biathlon sprint and bronze in the biathlon middle distance. Although his results in cross country have been continually improving it is biathlon that offers him the best chance of making the Paralympic podium again.
“For the Games, my focus is on the three biathlon races. The goal for those races is to execute the perfect race plan for each day. Outside of those three races, my next focus would be on being part of a Canadian Relay. Any other races will be based on how I’m feeling, and what would be the best for achieving my goals.”