Media Release

Canada’s Mark Arendz Battles to Biathlon Bronze at Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing

March 05, 2022

BEIJING, Chn— Mark Arendz claimed his ninth career medal at the Paralympic Winter Games after winning the bronze on Saturday to kick-off the 10-day sporting spectacle in Beijing, China.

“It feels really good to get that first one under the belt. There are always a little nerves, but I really wanted to set the tone for the week and get that first podium,” said Arendz, who celebrated his 32nd birthday two days ago.

The resident of Hartsville, P.E.I. fought through blowing conditions that created a challenging day of shooting at the Zhangjaikou National Biathlon Centre to clock a third-place time of 17:13.6 in the men’s standing 6-kilometre Para-biathlon sprint race.

The four-time Paralympian was sent to the 150-metre penalty loop twice, missing one shot in each of his two rounds on the shooting range.

“This one left me wanting a little bit more today. The skis felt really good, but I made a few mistakes on the range,” added Arendz, who won a gold, two silver and three bronze medals at the 2018 Games in PyeongChang. “I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I do know where the mistakes were. I was just a little off and will have to clean up the range a bit.”

Despite the two misses in his 10 shots, the lanky Canuck hammered the pace in each of his three laps to maintain pace with the frontrunners.

“I am taking great confidence from this race, knowing that I was still skiing very close to the best guys who are very fast and were clean – even with my two misses,” added Arendz, who won the silver in the same event in each of the last two Paralympics.

“I knew I had an opportunity to be right in the mix for the top spot. Silver would have been the cherry on top, but being on the podium is still important,” he said.

Canada’s flag bearer at the 2018 Closing Ceremonies, Arendz just couldn’t make up the two mistakes on the range to top Ukraine’s Grygorii Vovchynskyi and Germany’ s Marco Maier.

Vovchynskyi won the short distance race with a time of 16:17.6. Maier finished 45.8 seconds back in the silver-medal spot at 17:03.4.

In the women’s 6-kilometre sit-skiing category, Christina Picton had a solid seventh-place finish. The Fonthill, Ont. resident skied steady and was perfect on the range in her Paralympic debut to finish with a time of 23:50.7.

“I’m very happy. I stuck to the race plan and shot clean, so it is a great day,” said Picton. “I felt like I took 10 minutes every bout, but I’d rather take those extra breaths, and make sure then hope for the best. It was a good day.”

Oksana Masters, of the United States, won the women’s sit-ski race with a time of 20:51.2 (0+0).

Collin Cameron, of Bracebridge, Ont., struggled in shooting with three misses, dropping him to seventh spot at 20:24.7 in the men’s sit-skiing category.

“It was very difficult. Obviously, the wind played a big part. It’s a sprint race so I just tried to go for it. Sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t,” said Cameron who had to take three, 100-metre laps around the penalty loop. “I felt really good out on the course and had really good skis. It just came down to about a minute on the penalty loop today.”

Derek Zaplotinsky, of Smoky Lake, Alta., was 14th at 21:15.6 with two misses.

China’s Zixu Liu shot clean to win the classification with a time of 18:51.5.

A trio of Canadians hit the start line in the women’s standing race.

Emily Young, of North Vancouver, was the top Canuck in seventh spot. Young went 10-for-10 on the range, stopping the clock at 20:31.0.

“That one hurt a lot but in a good way. It was good to get out the cobwebs and get a good intensity,” said Young. “The conditions kind of take your breath away out there. There were times I’d cover my mouth going down the hills. I felt really good on the range. I did what I needed to do and got out of there.”

Brittany Hudak, of Prince Albert, Sask., finished on her teammate’s heels in eighth spot at 20:32.4 with one missed shot.

“The skiing hurt more than I would have liked, and the altitude is definitely a factor. Being the first race here, it was nice to feel it out,” said Hudak. “You have to pace really smart and I was trying to stay consistent.

“The wind was pretty steady today, but you’d get these odd gusts. I missed one on my first bout, so I definitely tried to take a bit longer on the second bout. Overall, it’s a good start that I hope to build on.”

Natalie Wilkie, of Salmon Arm, B.C., was 15th at 23:14.1.

China’s Yujie Guo was crowned Paralympic champion after posting a winning time of 19:43.3 despite missing one shot.

The women’s 15km and men’s 18km long-distance cross-country sit-skiing races are set for Sunday.

Check out CBC’s streaming and TV viewing guide to catch all of the Para-Nordic action in Beijing.

Complete Paralympic Biathlon Results: