SOCHI, Russia — Canada’s Mark Arendz battled through brutal race conditions to win the bronze medal in the men’s 12.5-kilometre standing category at the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia on Tuesday.
With rain pelting down and dense fog socked into the Laura Nordic Stadium, the 24-year-old took advantage of the weather he grew up with in Hartsville, Prince Edward Island to grab his second medal of the week. Arendz clocked a time of 30:31.0.
“To get a medal is awesome and that was the goal,” said Arendz. “There were mistakes out there both in shooting and on the course so it was not a perfect race, but anytime you are on the podium I have to be happy because this is strong field.”
In a race that puts a premium on shooting, the soft-spoken Canuck rattled off 19 of 20 shots in his four rounds on the range. The miss in this third bout of shooting sent Arendz to do one 150-metre penalty loop.
“The warm up was tough today, and it was hard to see the targets early [because of the fog],” said Arendz. “It was the same conditions for everyone. I wasn’t perfect in shooting so I know there are still mistakes that need to be cleaned up.”
Arendz was in a dogfight for the gold with two of his closest rivals, Russia’s Azat Karachurin and Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset. Karachurin also missed just one target en route to winning the gold medal with a time of 29:30.0 (0+0+0+1). Missing two shots in his final stop at the range, Ulset hammered his way around the course on the skinny skis to edge Arendz for the silver medal with a time of 30:24.6.
“I felt a little tired today, and I just didn’t have quite the snap that I had on the first day,” added Arendz, who had a lightening quick final lap. “The conditions stayed hard so I was able to put down the power I had. Everything is there. I just need to put it all together.”
Earlier this week, Arendz became the first Canadian ever to win a silver medal in biathlon at the Paralympic Winter Games. Brian McKeever, guided by his brother, Arendz’s coach Robin, were the only other Canadians to win a Para-Biathlon medal when they captured the bronze in 2006.
“I still haven’t been perfect shooting, and I don’t want to leave Sochi until I do that.” — Arendz, Canada’s most successful Paralympic biathlete
The two-medal week now makes Arendz the most successful Canadian biathlete at the Paralympics. Recognizing the bright future ahead of him, four years ago the wide-eyed Canadian walked into his first Paralympic Stadium in 2010. His goal was take in the Paralympic experience. This time around things are different.
“This time it is strictly business,” said Arendz. “I have had four years of experience and feel that I am strong in all race distances. I want to be on the podium every time. It was not a perfect race today. I still haven’t been perfect shooting, and I don’t want to leave Sochi until I do that.”
Earlier in the day, Ottawa’s Caroline Bisson suited up in the women’s 10-kilometre standing race. Bisson finished in 11th spot with a time of 39:53.9 (2+0+1+0). Russia’s Alena Kaufman missed just one shot while posting the golden time at 29:57.1 (1+0+0+0).
The Para-Nordic events continue on Wednesday in Sochi with the men’s and women’s cross-country skiing sprint races. The final biathlon race will take place on Friday.