Mark Arendz committed to 2026 Paralympic Games, and potentially beyond

Canadian Paralympic Committee

October 18, 2022

Para nordic star, in Ottawa for 2023 Canada Games torch lighting, searches for improvement


Photo: Canada Games Council

OTTAWA – Mark Arendz left no doubt that the 2026 Paralympic Winter Games – which would be his fifth – are on his radar and it would only be after Milano-Cortina that he would make a decision on whether he would continue to 2030 at age 40.

The 12-time Paralympic Games medallist (including four this past winter in Beijing) was on Parliament Hill on a rainy Monday for the torch lighting ceremony for the 2023 Canada Winter Games torch relay. The Games will be held next winter in his home province of Prince Edward Island.

Arendz was given the honour holding the torch as it was lit from the fire in the Centennial Flame.

He flew to Ottawa from his Canmore, Alta. base where he is already in training for the upcoming season and the first building block towards the 2026 Games in Milano-Cortina, Italy.

“My preparations have been going really well,” he said. “I took a bit of a step back just to get some extra recovery both physical and mental. I’m really happy with how I’m coming along and looking forward to testing some new things.”

Even with all his success, the 32-year-old Arendz feels there is more to improve.

“I’ve made a shift in my focus for this season,” he said. “I recognize all my weaknesses and I need to work on those and those are the ones that are going to make me a stronger skier for the next four years.”

For 2030, which could possibly be in Canada with the exploration of an Indigenous-led bid for Vancouver-Whistler underway, Arendz says that’s too far away to make a commitment.

‘’If I go and compete as an athlete, I want to make sure I’m still competitive,’’ he said. ‘’I know I’m getting to the later part of my career and I’m going to treat the next four years as my focus and then we’ll see what happens.’’

PEI is where it all started for Arendz in Para nordic skiing and the Canada Games returning to the nation’s smallest province brings back great memories.

“It was because of the 1991 Canada Games at which they brought biathlon in for the first time that I was given the opportunity to try it,” he recalled. “It quickly snowballed into a career that’s taken me around the world, four Paralympic Games and 12 Paralympic medals.”

Arendz, from Hartsville, PEI, says the province is already excited about hosting the Games.

“It’s going to be a great festive atmosphere; the whole province is getting behind it especially with 14 venues spread out across the island.

“The unpredictable part will be the weather,” Arendz said with a laugh. “But I can guarantee the cross-country skiing course won’t be all flat. There’s going to be some serious challenges.”

Arendz lost his left arm above the elbow in a farming accident at age seven and while the accident was initially a major shock, it did not deter him from pursuing his love for sport and competition.

One of the big influences in Arendz’s career is his little brother Menno Arendz. There was big news from Nordiq Canada last week, as Menno was named the new shooting coach for the Para nordic national ski team.

“I know he can challenge us to become a better shooters,” said Mark. “His technical knowledge is amazing and I’m looking forward to how we can push each other.”

Menno is no stranger to working in a variety of roles with Canada’s experienced Para biathlon coaches, including Bjorn Taylor and John Jaques.

He originally moved to Canmore in 2014 to take on sport coordinator responsibilities with Biathlon Canada, which he did for a couple years. In 2019, Menno moved to Camrose, Alta. where he was head coach of the Camrose Ski Club.

“We’ve always had a great connection with biathlon,” Mark said. “We were always looking not just at ourselves but beyond to see what others were doing and focusing on aspects such as tactics during a race.”

After the monumental success in the sport of the McKeever brothers – legendary Paralympian Brian and former guide and head coach Robin – it appears Para nordic skiing in Canada is now welcoming the Arendz brothers era.

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