PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of — After Mark Arendz missed the top of the Paralympic medal podium four years ago in Sochi, he harnessed that frustration in every training session.
The 28-year-old from Hartsville, P.E.I., won biathlon’s standing 15-kilometre event in Pyeongchang on Friday, finally capturing the one medal missing from his Paralympic collection. It was his fourth medal of these Games.
“All week, every time I step on that podium, I was thinking to myself that I want to hear those words ‘Paralympic champion’ and then my name, and then hear the anthem,” Arendz said. “I’ve seen the Maple Leaf on that podium a few times now with teammates, but to finally be up there myself with that anthem, that’s going to be an amazing feeling.”
His medal boosted Canada’s total to 19, tying the team’s best-ever performance from Vancouver in 2010, and three better than the team won four years ago in Sochi — with two days of competition remaining. With Canada’s Para hockey team facing the U.S. in Sunday’s final, Canada is guaranteed a best-ever finish.
Arendz, who lost his left arm after he toppled into a grain auger on his family farm at the age of seven, missed gold four years ago in Sochi by just seven tenths of a second.
“That .7 has been driving my training for the last four years, and finally to put it together here, to get that gold and by a fair margin too, that means everything, everything’s come together finally,” he said.
“It’s a small thing that made a big impact over the last four years. It was the driving force that made me train on those days that were kind of tough to get out of bed, I said ‘OK, I have to go think about making up that .7.’
Friday he did just that. Arendz shot a perfect 20-for-20, and finished in 42 minutes 52.2 seconds. Benjamin Daviet of France took the silver in 43:50.5, while Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset was third (44:06.7).
“This race is kind of to my strengths,” he said. “It’s a shooting race, you have to go clean, and process was key today, just to make sure that I hit those 20 targets, and once I got to that last bout, through 15 for 15 I knew I wasn’t going to miss so I made sure of every shot before I pulled that trigger, and in the end I was clean, and that was the way I really needed that race to be.”
“That completes the set for biathlon. The first gold, that means everything to me.”
Arendz already had raced to a silver and bronze in biathlon here, plus a bronze in cross-country skiing’s 1.5-kilometre sprint classic.
Collin Cameron of Bracebridge, Ont., started Friday’s march to the podium, winning bronze in the sitting 15K race.
Then Brittany Hudak of Prince Albert, Sask., added bronze in the women’s standing 12.5K race.
On the final lap, Emily Young of North Vancouver, B.C., knew a medal was out of reach because of missed shots, and so tucked in front of Hudak and paced her to the finish line.
“Seeing Emily ahead of me, she basically pulled me around the course on the last lap, yelling at me,” Hudak said. I don’t know how she was even able to yell at me, I was moving so hard.”
“I was just yelling at her to not be dropped by me, I was breaking the wind,” Young said. “It was so good, I’m so proud of her.”
Hudak, who was born missing part of her left arm, was introduced to skiing by Sochi teammate Colette Bourgonje, after Bourgonje spotted her working in a Canadian Tire store in her hometown when Hudak was 18.