Player's Own Voice

Player's Own Voice podcast: The evolution of Mark Arendz

Player's Own Voice podcast connects with the individual star of the 2018 Paralympics in PyeongChang. Trackside in Canmore, Alta., Mark Arendz is counting the minutes to the Winter Paralympics in Beijing.

Para nordic star athlete is chasing perfection in a fiendishly difficult sport

Mark Arendz of Canada reacts after finishing first in the Biathlon Men's 15km Standing event during the 2018 Winter Paralympics at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, March 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) (The Associated Press)

Mark Arendz delivered performance after performance at the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympic Games.

He skied and shot his way into uncharted territory, nailing an incredible six medals in six events. Such success would leave Canada's undisputed star of the Games in something of a motivational bind.

It's relatively easy to train with a goal of doing better next time, but how does one focus on improving after an outing like Arendz's?

Heading into the Beijing Games, as Arendz explains to Player's Own Voice podcast host Anastasia Bucsis, means evolving as an athlete.

More is not the answer, but different might be. Arendz's relentless pursuit of technique and fitness has led him to a place where he can still find flaws in his own gold-medal races. He can still see ways to hit more bullseyes, more quickly. He can still bring more of his phenomenal talent and drive to bear in the notoriously difficult Nordic disciplines.

In conversation on the edge of 'Frozen Thunder,' the shoulder-season cross country training track in Canmore, Alta., Arendz slowed down long enough to describe to us how his passion for technical excellence in sport — which likely evolved from his early need to solve the daily puzzles of living without an arm lost to a childhood agricultural accident on his P.E.I. family farm.

24 years of constantly overcoming physical challenges, as it turns out, is excellent preparation for an unparalleled athletic career.

It should come as no surprise that Arendz is already visualizing precisely where he'll be at noon on March 5, 2022: the minute, hour and day that his next Para nordic race gets underway.

For our hard of hearing and deaf audience members, we are pleased to provide a transcript.

Like the CBC Sports' Player's Own Voice essay series, the POV podcast allows athletes to speak to Canadians about issues from a personal perspective. Mark Arendz has already written about turning a terrible twist of fate into athletic resilience.

To listen to the entire fourth season, follow Player's Own Voice on Spotify, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever else you do your podcast listening.

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