Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer Schmoozing

Mark Arendz
Mark Arendz
The Guardian

July 21, 2009
It is the middle of July and only this week has the weather started to feel like a real summer. The upcoming week looks amazing in Canmore, with sunny skies and temperatures reaching the 30s (in degree Celsius). The only relief is the always-present breeze up at the Canmore Nordic Centre, but of course it can make shooting a challenge on certain days.
The past few weeks have been pretty busy. As I am not taking any courses during the summer this is the time where I can get some sponsor engagements and media appearances before the more critical training starts in the fall.
First was an awesome event at the Vancouver Airport on July 8. Air Canada launched a special elite program for athletes, coaches and support personnel of the Olympic and Paralympic Teams. After that came the very exciting unveiling of the Vancouver 2010-themed Boeing 777. The outside is painted with a mural of several winter sports.
Personally the most exciting was the fact that one of the athletes on the plane is an edited image of me. It is pretty cool to think I’m painted on the side of a plane.
The remaining part of the event was an opportunity for the families of Air Canada employees to have their photos taken with two of the Olympic or Paralympic athletes in attendance. The photos were printed within moments of taking the picture and they were all signed by the athletes. This was so much fun and a great way to connect with everyone there. I was with a great group of athletes, which made the event so memorable.
The next event came two days later with an appearance for General Motors at the Calgary Stampede. Met some very interesting people. Again an opportunity to connect with the community by creating awareness about the sport and signing autographs.
But with this busy schedule, I needed some time to relax and recharge. So only six days after being in Vancouver, I flew back to Prince Edward Island for a quick four-day visit with family and friends.
It just so worked out that the day after I arrived so did my grandmother from Holland. It was great to see the whole family.
I quickly learned the extreme difference between the dry Alberta atmosphere to the very humid atmosphere of P.E.I. I used this to my advantage as another condition that I demanded my body to quickly adapt to and it turned out as a great added challenge. It was great to be able to train with my brother (Menno); it has been a long time since we were able to train together.
I was able to sneak into Charlottetown one afternoon to look at the brand new, at most 12 days old, athletics track that will later this summer play host to the best in Canada at the 2009 Canada Summer Games. I also took this opportunity to watch some of the junior track nationals that were taking place that weekend. It so worked out that I was able to do a radio and television interview while I was on the Island, another bonus.
As I mentioned before with summer finally starting here in Canmore, I almost - but not really - feel bad about having to think that I only have two weeks here before I head way down south to New Zealand.
On August 1, I go to New Zealand for a demanding four-week training camp. This one camp has made huge impacts on my performance over the past two seasons and I hope this continues and is able to springboard me to the level I need in order to achieve my Paralympic goals.
This year is a little different as the entire Canadian cross country team will be down in New Zealand for almost three weeks, training and competing together at the Snow Farm.
With the countdown to the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympic Games only a short 234 days away the training, the media, the pressure and the excitement all build to what I hope are the best ever Paralympics for Team Canada.

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