Four Years in the Making

Returning home after the Vancouver Games I was motivated and inspired to push over myself to the limit over the next four years. Improvement was what I was chasing. There was a lot for me to improve on from Vancouver. I was a young inexperienced skier and it was unthinkable how much I still had to learn and understand. These past four years I’ve improved every aspect of my racing. Fitness, technique, awareness, actual competition experience and my mind. Now in less than ten days I will prove that I have become one of the best skiers in the World. The majority of those four years the 2014 Games in Sochi seemed still so far off. A distant goal. At the same time anything I did was focused on the Games. It has been close to four years of thinking of the Games but knowing that there is still a lot of time before they start. The countdowns switch from years to months, still the numbers seemed high- lots of time. Suddenly they are counting in days, going from triple digits to double digits. By this time I knew the Games were fast approaching. This last training season the Paralympics were the only focus. Everything you had to do was geared upon being your fastest for two weeks in March. Over the Christmas and New Year break was when it really hit me that the time was closing in on the Games and quickly. The year is now actually 2014, the Olympics start in just over a month, 30 days! Time becomes a blur as the Olympics are on. The fireworks go off and the Games come to a close. Then in less time it takes to blink the Paralympics will begin. That is where I find myself today, in the blink. In a couple of days I will be able to countdown the Games on my fingers. The most important thing is that I feel ready to take on the challenge. Four years ago I knew the Russians would be putting on a show that would be hard to forget. As we saw during the Olympics that was exactly what they did. In no time at all we will see that once again.
After the World Cup season I headed straight home to Canmore. The following week gave me an opportunity to recover from a heavy competition schedule and rest before the final training block before the Games. The Pre-Sochi Camp was kicked off first, by a lengthy cold snap settling on Canmore and surrounding area. Second, the World Cup team moved to Mount Engadine Lodge for several nights. Being my first time at the lodge it was a fantastic place. You would be hard pressed to find better views. The meals were incredible and the staff were super friendly. If ever I had another chance to stay up there in the Lodge I wouldn’t hesitate. A true hidden gem in the Rockies. Back to Canmore for the remainder of the week. The next week we were staying at the Fairmont Lake Louise, from where we skied right out the door onto the lake and the surrounding trails. Tuesday was a hectic but unbelievably fun day. In the morning I was filming with Rick Mercer for a segment on the Rick Mercer Report. I was teaching Rick how to skate ski along the Lake. I then had just enough time to change before lunch and the official Paralympic Team announcement for Cross Country and Biathlon. Late afternoon I was with Rick Mercer again filming the second part of the segment. I don’t want to spoil the surprise so I’ll keep the details to myself. You’ll have to tune into the Rick Mercer Report on March 4 to find out. I can promise you that it’ll be worth the wait and you won’t believe what we got up to! It was a blast to film.
For just over a week we stayed in Canmore, for some recovery and intensity. On Saturday I did one of the last major workouts before Sochi, the 42km Kananaskis Ski Marathon (or Cookie Race). The conditions weren’t super-fast with a high of -15 and fresh snow the night before. I had a great start but once the course flattened out a bit I was struggling to stay with the groups in double poling. I was skiing very well on the climbs. I was getting beat up by the slow snow so I was working harder and then losing power in the soft snow. In the end the goal was a hard effort, which was what I achieved. As a bonus I skied to one position better in the overall then I had done three years ago in a tougher field. After a day of packing; all of my fastest skis, putting my rifle all snug in its case and finally deciding on how many t-shirts to take I was ready to travel.
As all the athletes departed Sochi for their home countries or to the next competition site, the team and I headed to Italy. It has almost become habit, a migration pattern. It must be February or March because again I’m in Italy skiing at Passo Lavaze. That is in part why the team is here again it feels familiar, homely. An amazing place to relax and get over Jet lag. Enjoying some of the finest pleasures of traveling in Europe; sunshine, delicious food and tranquil atmosphere. I’ll only be here for a few more days before returning to Munich. The morning of March 4th, I take the final step to Sochi. Three days after arriving the Games will official begin with the Opening Ceremonies on March 7th. The next morning will be the first competition, the Biathlon Short. I will then have two days off from racing before the Biathlon Middle, followed by the Cross Country Sprint. A day off, before the final stretch of three races in three days. Biathlon Long, Cross Country Team Relay and the Games will close with the Cross Country 10km.
I want to take a moment now before the Games begin to say Thank you! To everyone that has helped me along the way to this point. It would be impossible to name everyone but I feel it is important to acknowledge that I wouldn’t be the person I am or have gotten this far without your help. I want to share this experience with everyone, so I encourage you to go to www.markarendz.com for daily updates, blogs (and if I can pull it off) lots of photos. The website will be the best place to find out what is going on.


One Comment so far:

  1. Dan says:

    GOOD LUCK MARK!!!
    Bring home something that shines!

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