Tag Archives: IPC biathlon

Mark Arendz: The Interview 2!

Mark Arendz is a Canadian para biathlete and cross country skier who competes in the standing races. He is a double World Champion in biathlon after winning gold in the Sprint (7.5km) and Middle distance (12.5km) races in Finsterau in February 2017. He also won silver in the Individual (15km) biathlon race as well as bronze in both the 10km and Open Relay cross country races. The 27-year-old from Prince Edward Island also has a silver and bronze medal in biathlon from the Sochi Paralympics. This is his second interview for biathlon23 which of course eclipses all these achievements! 😉

Follow Mark on Twitter: @markarendz
Have a look at his website: http://www.markarendz.com/

You are a double biathlon World Champion! How does that feel? Can you describe your winning races in Finsterau?

Reassuring, confidence building. All of my performances in Finsterau confirmed that my training and preparations were right on. My focus is on the process, controlling factors I have control over. If I can cross a finish line knowing I executed a perfect race plan, then I can be satisfied with the result regardless of what it is. The first race of the Championships, the Middle Distance, was about staying clean and consistent skiing times. That race set a great tone for me throughout the rest of the Championships. The Sprint was a tight finish and led to some tense moments afterward awaiting the results. I skied a strong race, but success for me was hitting the five targets in the second bout. After going clean; it was simple, get to the finish as fast as possible.

You did 6 races at the World Championships and medalled in 5 of them. How tough is it to do that both mentally and physically?

True, I did a lot of races in Finsterau. I had to take each day by its self. I woke up each morning with my plan for the day. I kept my focus on that plan and what I could control. In the end, I was fortunate enough to celebrate a few evenings. After four races, I was feeling quite beat up on that final rest day. The body recovered well enough so that I could wake up the next morning and win the Biathlon Sprint. I finished the week with a surprising third place in the Cross Country Middle Distance.

Are you going to do all the events in PyeongChang? It’s a pretty tough schedule, have you considered targeting specific races?

In PyeongChang, at the Games, my priority is on the three Biathlon races. If the body is holding up and everything is going well, my next priority will be on being prepared to be part of a Relay team. Any other races will be a day to day decision based on health and energy levels.

You had some good results on the World Cup in PyeongChang. Do you like the tracks and range there?

I have been at the venue in PyeongChang twice now. I do enjoy the courses there. There are a lot of working sections, and some big, steep climbs. The wind is a little unpredictable which should make for some interesting shooting. I look forward to battling out it with my fellow competitors.

You get to start the season in your back garden in Canmore! What is it like racing at home? Do you feel some extra pressure to perform well?

It is always exciting to race at home, in front of family and friends. To have the edge in knowing every single snowflake on the course. Or how the weather will affect the conditions. The key to success will be to distinguish between an everyday training session and a World Cup race morning! For performance, there is nothing better than sleeping in your own bed!

What have you been doing for summer training?

A busy summer with several training camps in Bend and Mammoth Lakes in the United States. The Snow Farm in New Zealand where I was on-snow for three weeks. Throughout the rest of the summer, I have been doing a lot of roller skiing, biking both on the road and off. Of course running, exploring the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Some time spent in the gym as well. It is all about the fine details that will make the difference come March.

It will be your third Paralympic Games in PyeongChang. How do you think para-biathlon has changed over the years? Is there anything you would like to change about it for the future?

The depth in the fields has been one of the biggest changes in the past few years. There are several competitors in each category that are capable of winning. I would love to see the Pursuit format perfected and replace the Middle Distance race at major competitions.

You are the Nordic skiing athlete representative. What does that involve and are you enjoying it?

At the test event in PyeongChang, I was elected by the other athletes to become the Athlete Representative. It is a new role I am taking on and so far I have enjoyed. Being part of the decisions, shaping the future of the sport. The sport of Nordic Skiing is off and running but now is the time to make decisions on how we approach the future. I have been on conference calls once every two weeks. Once we get to the Winter, there will be a few meetings at several of the World Cups to openly discuss issues and hopefully, brainstorm ideas to make our sport better.

Obviously training takes up a lot of your time but what do you do in your free time? Any exciting hobbies we should know about?!

Besides following Biathlon23, no, there are no exciting hobbies as of yet. I’m open to any suggestions!

This is the greatest answer ever given to a Biathlon23 interview question!!! 🙂

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Martin Fleig: The Interview!

Martin Fleig is a German para biathlete who competes in the sitting category. In February he won double gold in biathlon at his home World Championships in Finsterau. His victories in the 12.5km middle distance and the 15km Individual were were followed with bronze in the 7.5km Sprint event. He also won bronze in the 15km cross country race. He won the biathlon Overall World Cup last season and is the current world number one. The 28-year-old was born with spina bifida and fluid on the brain.

Like his Facebook Page: Martin Fleig
Check out his website: http://www.martin-fleig.de/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I started with cross country skiing. One day, I guess I was 14 years old or so, I tried biathlon. I really did not like it! A few years later I had the chance to get my own rifle, so I could shoot much more easily because the rifle fit me perfectly. My first competitions were not really good, but I found my motivation to go ahead with doing biathlon. And over the years the fun came too.

You became double World Champion in biathlon at your home Championships in Finsterau last season. Can you describe the feeling and what do you remember about the races?

It’s really difficult to describe. I guess I had a really good feeling before the first race started. I knew that I was in really good shape and the races at the World Cups before the Worlds were also very good for me. So I was able to start the Worlds with confidence. During the first race I often thought about my training at home at the Notschrei Nordic Center. I told myself all the time ‘you can do it, just do it like in your training’. I knew I just had to remember my shootings from the past and in my training before doing it clean. Honestly, at the 15k race I did not know about my comfortable situation by being the leader by almost 3 minutes. It was strange for me when I missed one shot because I was sure that my chance to take a medal was over. But after I finished the last shooting I heard the stadium commentator said something like‚ ‘Dont worry about your missed shot, Martin. You are still in the lead!’ That was really cool because I knew that I would be able to win a medal again.

You won both biathlon races at the World Cup round in PyeongChang. Do you like the tracks and range there? What are you goals for the Paralympic Games?

Oh yes, I really do like the tracks and also the place itself. About my goals, I am really not able to say something directly about that. Let us first start the new season and the first World Cup races and maybe then we could say a bit more about what we could expect at the PWG. All I can say now is, that I train really hard and do my best to be prepared for it! We also have to wait and see what the Russian guys will be able to do if they come back because we should not forget that those guys are the strongest skiers in the world!
(The Russian Team are currently banned by the IPC from all competitions following the McLaren Report into state sponsored doping at the Sochi Olympics.)

What have you been doing for summer training? Do you mostly train alone or with your teammates?

I have put my training into a new level. More hours overall than last year and some more technical training. We are doing a good mix of muscle and athletic training, skiing technique and also some other kinds of stamina training like handcycling, roller skiing or swimming. Most of the time I train with my Mother or alone. Twice a week I train with some teammates or with the head coach, Ralf Rombach or Michael Huhn.

Is your sit-ski custom made? Do you have the same one for roller skiing or do you need two? What is the most challenging thing for you in terms of skiing in the sit-ski?

Yes, it has been made by a firm called Rapp & Seifert – Sanitätshaus und Orthopädietechnik GmbH. A BIG thanks to those guys who make it possible for me to do my sport so successfully!!! For the upcoming season they have built me a new, much lighter sledge. So yes, now I have got two of them. To ski in the sitting position is very challenging in general. For me, the fast corners on a track are the most challenging ones.

Can you describe for my readers how you shoot from a sit-ski?

If I come to the shooting range, a coach has got my rifle in his hands and he chooses a shooting lane. Then I come to that lane, let myself fall down on my left side and the coach gives me the rifle and I can begin to shoot. After the shooting (5 targets), I get up by myself and go ahead with the next loop of 2,5km or 3km.

More and more of your fellow athletes are doing both a winter and summer sport now. Have you ever considered turning to the ‘dark side’ of summer sport? What sport would you do?

Well, I really admire those who handle both kinds of summer and winter sports at this high level. For me, in my situation it is impossible to imagine doing so. But IF I think about which summer sport I would do, it would be wheelchair races I guess. But I am not really sure about that, it is just a thought.

What are your hobbies away from biathlon and cross country?

I love photography! I prefer to be outside, no matter if I do sport or something else. To be outside gives me a feeling of freedom. And if I go outside to take photos, I can really get my mind free from all around me. It makes me feel very satisfied. I mostly photograph things like insects, flowers or things in nature.

Does your rifle have a name?

Nope.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite track: Ruhpolding
Favourite biathlete (IPC or IBU): Vanessa Hinz, Simon Schempp
Favourite shooting range: Oberhof
Lucky bib number: 10
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Martin Fourcade
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Laura Dahlmeier
Best thing about being a biathlete: The ability to manage the difference between skiing and shooting.

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Mark Arendz : The Interview!

arendz1

The IPC Biathlon World Championships (ok cross country as well…) start in Finsterau, Germany on the 11th of February. Canada’s Mark Arendz will be taking part and so I had a chat with him before it all gets underway. Mark was born on the 3rd of March 1990 on Prince Edward Island. At age seven he was involved in a farming accident which led to the amputation of his left arm above the elbow. In 2013 he won the overall IPC Biathlon World Cup in the standing category after finishing second in the two previous years. He won a silver and a bronze medal in the Sochi Paralympics and he already has three World Championship medals, 1 gold and 2 bronze, and is hoping to add some more to his collection in Finsterau!

Follow Mark on Twitter: @markarendz
Have a look at his website: http://www.markarendz.com/

Why did you become a biathlete?

The challenge! Balancing both the endurance and the all-out power of the skiing, along with the precision and need to adapt instantly to the environment that is required for shooting. It is a sport where on the rare occasion you can triumph with an excellent performance in one or the other, but usually, you need to perform both on the tracks and the range to succeed. Though I know I may never achieve it, I wake up each morning excited to attempt to achieve the perfect biathlon race.

Are you happy with your World Cup results/performances so far this season?

I am very excited by my World Cup results so far this season. Over the training season I had a different mindset and focus for my shooting, and I feel that this new approach is paying off. Years of habit needed to be broken down to the basics once again, then built back up. After quite a few years working on my skiing, my cross country skiing is coming up to the level I believe it should be at, especially the classic. It is a great reward to see years of hard work coming together to the point where I believe I’m competitive for the win in any classic race. (Before I was a Biathlon Specialist, now I’m a Classic Biathlon Specialist.)

Are you excited about the World Championships? What are your goals for the biathlon races?

I am looking forward to the World Championships in Finsterau. I have had some great races there, and a few that left me wanting more. As for biathlon goals; I will focus on executing my race plan to the best of my abilities. Shooting will be a key component to that, as will being efficient while skiing.

How have you trained for the World Championships? What are your plans up until the races?

Since returning from the World Cup in Vuokatti, I have been in Canmore. The early part of January has been primarily a training block. I raced a few local loppets at the end of the month; having some fun as well as a positive training effect. A week before the Worlds begin I will head to Ramsau, Austria to get over jetlag and the final preparations for World Championships.

How does skiing with one pole affect your technique?

Skiing with only one pole, I find it affects my ski tactics more than technique. The technique my coach and I try to work on is identical to that of anyone using two poles. The difference would be where to use each of the different techniques. One skate is primarily an upper body technique, so I try not to use it as much. So I switch to Offset or Two skate sooner. Though I try not to do many of them; penalty loops are an interesting aspect with only one pole. Some go in a favourable direction, where my pole is to the outside, while others are not so favourable.

You don’t carry your rifle in the race. How is your shooting different to what we see on the IBU World Cup?

There are three significant differences between biathlon on the IBU World Cup and IPC World Cup. First, we use air rifles; shooting at targets that are 10m away and only from the prone position. Second, no one carries their rifle; coaches place the rifle on the mat as an athlete skies into the range. This also allows for very fast setup and shooting times. The last significant difference is those athletes with an impairment of one, or both arms use a spring rest under the forestock of the rifle for it to rest upon. The rest of the shooting is the same as anyone would use in the IBU.

In the summer I train and compete with members of Biathlon Canada’s World Cup team. Using a .22 caliber rifle and a specially designed prosthetic, it allows me to shoot both the prone and standing positions. It allows me a unique opportunity to work on my shooting.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Shooting is a longtime strength of mine. Adapting to the shooting environment while still performing. As a bigger skier, I rely on my power, having to focus more when the conditions get softer. Having to deal with jetlag at most competitions isn’t ideal, but as with anything, it gets better with practice.

Canada has a really good para-nordic team. Do you get help from your country in term of funding and support like coaching/physios/wax techs etc? How does it work?

The success comes from a well-oiled machine of staff, each with their responsibilities but the ability to help out in other areas when needed. For example, a biathlon coach that is in charge of feeds and splits during a cross country race, and so on. Cohesion within the Canadian team has always been high. It makes for an enjoyable atmosphere in training camps, day to day training or at competitions. Each athlete has their strengths which they share with others, and this builds a solid team. For me, I try to share my biathlon experience with the other shooters. While I learn a lot from teammates like Brian McKeever or Graham Nishikawa.

More and more of your fellow athletes are doing both a winter and summer sport now. Have you ever considered turning to the ‘dark side’ of summer sport? What sport would you do?

Yes, I have played with the idea of doing a summer sport. The first one that comes to mind is competitive shooting, 10m air rifle perhaps even pistol. If mountain biking were to get into the Paralympic schedule, I would consider that as well.

Does your rifle have a name?

Warhammer – it may be small, but it packs a mighty punch!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own):
Germany
Favourite track: Kananaskis Country, Alberta (south of Canmore)
Favourite biathlete: Magdalena Neuner
Favourite shooting range: Canmore, CAN
Favourite biathlon race: Pursuit
Lucky bib number: Haven’t discovered it yet! (Still waiting to race in #23)
Best thing about being a biathlete: The roar of the crowd as you hit all five targets!

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Of Para-mount Importance.

zaripov

Everyone is talking about the Sochi Winter Olympics. Who will take home the gold? Svendsen or Fourcade? Berger or Zaitseva? Whoever wins it’s going to be exciting stuff, but please don’t forget that there are 2 Olympic Games in Sochi next year. From the 7th to the 16th of March the Paralympic Games is also taking place.

Biathlon has been a Paralympic sport since 1988 when it was introduced in the Innsbruck Games for athletes with physical impairment. Since 1992 athletes with visual impairment have also been able to compete.

The program consists of 12 events, 6 for men and 6 for women. The athletes are divided into 3 categories which are standing,for those who are able to use the same equipment as able-bodied skiers, sitting and visually impaired. Athletes in the sitting category use a sit-ski or mono-ski to compete. It consists of a fitted chair over a single ski and makes use of a suspension device to help minimize wear and tear on the athlete’s body.

Athletes who are visually impaired use an electronic rifle which allows them to aim by hearing. The increasingly louder acoustic signals emitted as the rifle is pointed towards the centre of the target mean that the athletes aim by sound instead of sight. They are also accompanied by a sighted guide and are recognised as a team by the awarding of duel medals.

The men and women compete in the Pursuit and Individual races. They also compete over the same distances, around 3km in the Pursuit and 12.5km in the Individual, apart from the women’s sitting individual which is slightly shorter at 10km.

The growth of biathlon since 1988 has been very promising. In the first year there were only 3 medal events and no female competitors. In the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver there were 12 medal events competed for by 18 different countries made up of 61 male and 34 female biathletes. The competitors come from the usual biathlon countries like Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Norway and also Canada and The U.S. amongst others.

So who should you look out for in the games next year? Well as it’s in Russia here are a couple of medal contenders for the home country. Irek Zaripov(pictured above) was born on March 27, 1983, in Sterlitamak. He lost both legs in a motorcycle accident at aged 17. He has taken part in 2 Paralympic games in Turin and Vancouver, the latter being much more successful as he won 4 gold medals and 1 silver in biathlon and cross-country skiing sitting events. He received the Order of Merit from the Russian President and he is an ambassador for the Sochi Games. In 2011 he won another 6 medals this time in the IPC Biathlon and Cross Country Skiing World Championships in Russia and therefore is one of the favourites to medal in March.

For the ladies there is fellow Russian Mikhailina Lysova. Competing in the visually impaired section she works with her guide Alexey Ivanov. Now that her nemesis Germany’s Vernea Bentele has retired Lysova has a great chance winning in Sochi. She finished 3rd in both the Pursuit and Individual in Vancouver behind Bentele but in the 2011 World Championships she won gold in both biathlon events and also silver in the relay. Her main competition will come from fellow Russian Elena Remizova so the home country can look forward to a lot of potential medals.

So please remember after you have finished cheering for your countrymen and favourites in February don’t forget to watch the Paralympic Games in March. It’s of para-mount importance!

For information about the Paralympic Games see: http://www.paralympic.org/Events/Sochi2014

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