PyeongChang 2018 Day Seven – Arendz Exorcises Sochi Ghosts


Mark Arendz celebrates his gold


PYEONGCHANG, Republic of Korea – After missing out on gold four years ago by just 0.7 of a second, Canadian Mark Arendz finally got his gold medal as he won the men’s biathlon 15km standing on Friday at the 2018 Paralympic Games in Korea.

Arendz was determined to not miss out this time and he took control of the race, cruising to the victory, obliterating the field. Arendz won by almost a minute, finishing 58.3 seconds ahead of Frenchman Benjamin Daviet.

“That 0.7 has been driving my training for four years. It’s a small thing that made a big impact over the last four years and finally to put it together here, to get that gold and by a fair margin too, that means everything. Everything has come together finally,” said Arendz after winning.

Four of the other five golds in the last day of biathlon competition were split between Germany and the Neutral Paralympic Athletes (NPA). Germany took the two sitting events while NPA claimed the women’s standing and visually impaired events.

Andrea Eskau continued her impressive career, winning her third Paralympic gold in the women’s sitting. Germany swept the sitting events as Martin Fegg was at the opposite end of his career, winning his first career Paralympic medal in the men’s event.

The women’s standing saw an NPA one-two as Anna Milenina claimed the win ahead of team mate Ekaterina Rumyantseva. A second NPA gold came in the women’s visually impaired as Mikhalina Lysova (Guide: Alexey Ivanov) claimed her fourth career biathlon gold.

Bibian Mentel-Spee continued her remarkable come back in what is likely to be her last Paralympic Games as she won her second gold of the Games in the women’s snowboard banked slalom SB-LL2. Mentel-Spee beat American Brittani Court, putting down an unassailable time after finishing third in the first run.

“I’m going to take it easy for a little while. These are probably my last Games. I might do a couple more competitions but probably not any more Games,” said Mentel-Spee.”[I hope to stay involved] just to bring it further and hopefully inspire a lot of kids out there with a physical disability to come out and play this wonderful sport.”

Joining Mentel-Spee in the snowboard sweeps was American Brenna Huckaby as she claimed the women’s snowboard banked slalom SB-LL1. That was the first of three American gold medals in the snowboard banked slalom as the men’s SB-UL was claimed by Mike Minor while Noah Elliott won the SB-LL1. Japan won its first ever snowboard gold medal as Narita Gurimu claimed the win in the men’s SB-LL2 with a stunning run.

There was a stunning result in the first wheelchair curling semi-final as Canada found themselves on the losing end against China. The win guarantees China its first Winter Paralympics medal, and overturned the result in the round robin.

The other semi-final saw a heartbreaking finish for the hosts as Norway edged Korea Republic in extra ends following a 6-6 score line after eight. Nerves just took over the Koreans at the death and it cost them dearly as Norway guaranteed itself a medal.


PyeongChang 2018 Day Six – North Americans set to Face-off For Ice Hockey Gold


                        Korea Republic and Canada in action (Photo: IPC)


PYEONGCHANG, Republic of Korea – The Canadian Para Ice Hockey team is back in the Paralympic Gold Medal match and will face the defending champions the United States following the ice hockey semi-finals at the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Games on Thursday night.

After 12 years away from the Paralympic Final, world champions Canada were determined to get back on the big stage. Taking on the hosts, Canada dominated the match beating Republic of Korea 7-0 cruising through to the gold medal match silencing a full house.

Despite playing well before the second semi-final, Canada knew they would be playing the United States in the gold medal match, and the Canadians are excited to play their regional rivals.

“It is our biggest rivalry. They have won the past two Paralympic [gold] medals and we understand that. We have a lot of work to do but that rivalry has continued to build through this sport’s existence,” said forward Tyler McGregor.

Despite the loss to Canada, the Koreans remain confident of taking an ice hockey medal in their home Paralympic Games.

“We are very confident about the bronze medal game. We hope to develop as a powerhouse in ice hockey by winning the first medal in the Paralympics hosted by our home country,” said Lee Ji Hoon.

Things were unsurprising in the other semi-final as the United States scored three goals in the first 48 seconds of the game. By the end of the first period the United States was 5-0 up and all but through, eventually winning 10-1 but will be frustrated about conceding its first goal of the tournament.

The bronze medal match between Korea Repubic and Italy will take place on Saturday while USA and Canada will play for gold on Sunday.

PyeongChang 2018 Day Five – Muraoka Finally Wins


Momoka Muraoka in action


PYEONGCHANG, Republic of Korea – After having a career without winning a major gold medal, Japanese sit skier Momoka Muraoka broke through on the biggest of all stages. It was a memorable day for a number of athletes in the giant slalom alpine skiing competition at the 2018 Paralympic Games on Wednesday.

Spending all of her career behind the German legend Anna Schaffelhuber and Austrian Claudia Loesch, Muraoka was not expected to win gold in the women’s sitting giant slalom. Setting a time of 1:13.47, the stars couldn’t keep up, and Muraoka finished ahead of surprise silver medalist debutant Linda van Impelen by almost three seconds.

“I’m so relieved to get a gold medal today,” Muraoka said. “Sometimes I wanted to quit skiing and do something that I wanted but I’m happy that I overcame everything and now I got a gold medal.”

After winning the world cup, young Norwegian Jesper Pederson had a disappointing Paralympic Games, with just a bronze medal to show for his efforts. But on Wednesday he finally won his gold winning the men’s sitting giant slalom just beating out American Tyler Walker. The shock came in the first run when Dutchman Jeroen Kampschreur missed a gate, meaning he couldn’t back up his world title with Paralympic gold.

The sweep remains on for Slovakian Henrieta Farkasova (Guide: Natalia Subrtova) in the women’s visually impaired as she won her fourth gold medal. Farkasova simply tore the field apart winning over Menna Fitzpatrick (Guide: Jennifer Kehoe) of Great Britain and Australian Melissa Perrine (Guide: Christian Geiger) by more than five seconds.

“Any of the girls could stop us but we will not back down, we will definitely fight for that fifth gold,” Farkasova said. “You are not getting bored are you?”

After a long effort, Italian youngster Giacomo Bertagnolli (Guide: Fabrizio Casal) won his first Paralympic Gold Medal by winning both runs in the men’s visually impaired. On second place was the experienced champion, Slovakian Jakub Krako (Guide: Branislav Brozman) with Canadian Mac Marcoux (Guide: Jack Leitch) in third.

PyeongChang 2018 Day Four – Shocks Dominate in Alpine Combined


Jeroen Kampschreur celebrates (Photo: IPC)


PYEONGCHANG, Republic of Korea – In what will take some beating as the biggest shock at the 2018 Paralympic Games, Marie Bochet failed to complete her super-g run in the women’s super combined on Tuesday, allowing young Canadian Mollie Jepsen to claim the most unlikely of gold medals in the alpine skiing.

Coming through the final corner at a speed of 89.44km/h Bochet looked certain to take the lead after the super-g but was too fast, missing the turn, and the gate for a Did Not Finish. That opened up the door for the rest of the field.

“We knew that this gate was very hard to take. On the inspection, I was very concentrated on it and I was a little surprised by not seeing a gate (before) and then I missed the next one,” said Bochet after the race.

“Our sport is like that, if you miss a gate it’s finished. I promise, I looked up to see if I could take the gate but it was so far. It’s the game I play and I don’t regret today. And that’s my goal, I don’t want to have some regrets. … I will come back tomorrow (for giant slalom).”

That put German Andrea Rothfuss as the favorite, and she won the super-g but was just off of perfection in the slalom. That error gave Jepsen the title, winning gold by just 0.37 seconds over Rothfuss after a phenomenal run, completing her ACL recovery with her first gold medal.

There was German success in the women’s sitting but it was not the expected winner as Anna Schaffelhuber fell to her teammate Anna-Lena Forster. Schaffelhuber led after the super-g but struggled early in the slalom, which saw her time fall just short of defending her title and saw her hopes of a sweep dashed.

“I knew (after the super-G section) that I had not that big a gap to the top (and) that I could reach it in the slalom. I was sure I could get a medal, I was not sure it would be gold,” Forster said. “It’s awesome for me. I trained so much in the last years and I wanted to be on the top of the world and now I have reached it.”

An incredible 11 men failed to get through the course in the men’s standing, leading to another shock result after Swiss favorite Theo Gmur missed his gate. That allowed Neutral Paralympic Athlete (NPA) Aleksi Bugaev to claim gold, just 0.32 ahead of Frenchman Arthur Bauchet with New Zealander Adam Hall rounding out the podium.

In a spot of good history being made Dutch sit skier Jeroen Kampschreur managed a perfect slalom to get the gold. That win gave Kampschreur the first ever Dutch alpine skiing gold medalist as his time was enough to hold off the French world champion Frederic Francois, who was forced to settle for silver.

One athlete seeking a sweep saw their chances stay alive as Henrieta Farkasova (Guide: Natalia Subratova) won yet another gold medal. She only finished third in the slalom but her super-g time held up past a brave challenge from British skier Menna Fitzpatrick (Guide: Jennifer Kehoe).

The men’s race saw an historic medal for Slovakian Miroslav Haraus (Guide: Maros Hudik) finally winning gold after four Paralympic Games. Spaniard Yon Santacana Maiztegui (Guide: Miguel Galindo Garces) claimed silver with NPA skier Valerii Redkozubov (Guide: Evgeny Geroev) coming third.

PyeongChang 2018 Day Three – Snowboard Helps United States Extend Lead


Breanna Huckaby after winning gold (Photo: US Paralympic Committee)


PYEONGCHANG, Republic of Korea – An incredible six medals were claimed by the United States on the first day of Snowboard competition at the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Games in Korea Republic on Monday night.

Brenna Huckaby and Mike Schultz won gold medals for the United States with Amy Purdy, Mike Minor, Noah Elliott and Keith Gabel up different hues. Huckaby won the first gold medal in snowboarding at these Games as she defeated her teammate Purdy in the women’s snowboard cross SB-LL1 big final with Cecile Hernandez winning the small final to claim bronze for France.

It was a double-Dutch final in the women’s SB-LL2 with a very special win as Bibian Mentel-Spee claimed the win. Mentel-Spee missed most of the 2017-18 season to get cancer treatment making for an emotional moment when she crossed the line first. She crashed with teammate Lisa Bunschoten in the early stages of the race but managed to recover quickly and claimed the win to back up from her 2014 gold medal. In third place was Spaniard Astrid Fina, winning Spain’s

“I think Lisa gets the credit as well. It was really tight racing up until we crashed and we both could have won,” said Mentel-Spee after the race. “She’s so strong nowadays and she’s absolutely the next super champion, so I’m really feeling bad that she hurt herself, but luckily she’s OK, said the back-to-back Paralympic champion.”

Australia claimed its first gold medal in a winter Paralympic Games since the 2002 Paralympic Games as Simon Patmore claimed the win in the men’s SB-UL, becoming the first Australian to medal in both a summer and winter Games. Patmore beat out Italian Pozzerle in the final with Mike Minor winning the small final.

Americans won both finals in the men’s snowboard cross SB-LL1 as Mike Schultz claimed the big final defeating Dutchman Chris Vos. The other American winner was Noah Elliott who claimed the small final and with it the bronze medal.

The final snowboard medal of the day was claimed by Finland as Mati Suur-Hamari gave Finland its first gold of the 2018 Paralympic Games. Suur-Hamari won the men’s SB-LL2 beating out American Keith Gabel in the big final while Japanese snowboarder Gurimu Narita claimed the small final and the bronze medal.

PyeongChang 2018 Preview – Snowboard

Events: 10 – (6 men, 4 women)

Classification: SB-LL1 – This classification is for athletes with significant impairment in one leg or significant combined impairment in two legs. Typically these will be athletes with above the knee amputations or significant muscle weakness.

SB-LL2 – Not as severe an impairment as SB-LL1, these athletes have an impairment in one or two legs with activity limited due to that impairment. Typically these are athletes with below the knee amputations.

SB-UL – This is for upper limb impairments, for example an arm amputation. This classification will only have men competing in PyeongChang

Venue: Jeongseon Alpine Center

Athlete Quota: 70 men, 36 women

International Federation: World Para Snowboard (IPC)


If there is one country that leads the way in Snowboard it’s the Americans, athletes from the USA claimed six of the ten world cup titles this year. Despite that, there are a lot of tight fights ahead of those Americans in PyeongChang in March.

There will almost certainly be an American medal in the women’s SB-LL1 snowboard cross with four of the top five in the world cup being from the United States. The favorite will be American Brenna Huckaby who comes into these Games fresh off of winning the world cup title. But Huckaby will face a tough fight for that gold, only winning the title by 300 points from teammate Amy Purdy and Frenchwoman Cecile Hernadez who were level on points behind her. Huckaby is almost certain of the gold in the banked slalom having cruised to that world cup ahead of teammate Purdy.

It is down to two snowboarders in the women’s SB-LL2 Dutchwoman Lisa Bunschoten and Australian Joany Badenhorst. Bunschoten comes in having won the snowboard cross while Badenhorst will come in off the banked slalom world cup title, on both occasions, the other came second in the event.

In the men’s SB-UL classification the two events have two very different medal contenders with American Mike Minor the most likely to win a double. Minor claimed the banked slalom world cup while finishing third in the snowboard cross. The snowboard cross world title was claimed by Frenchman Maxime Montaggioni.

American Mike Schlutz is the man to beat in the SB-LL1 classification, having won the world cup in both events. He will have to beat teammate Noah Elliott, who finished second in snowboard and banked slalom, in what could be a big event for the United States.

While an American, Mike Shea is the heavy favorite for the men’s SB-LL2 banked slalom having cruised to the world cup title this year. The snowboard cross will be a much tighter fight with world cup winner Gurimu Narita of Japan facing tough competition against Finn Matti Suur-Hamari and American Evan Strong.

PyeongChang 2018 Preview – Ice Hockey


Photo: IPC


Events: One – mixed event

Classification: Unlike other sports in the Paralympic Games, there is not different classification for Ice Hockey players, and unlike wheelchair basketball or rugby there is not a scoring classification system requiring different levels of impairment on the ice. There is simply a minimum impairment requirement that all players must meet to compete.

Venue: Gagneung Hockey Center

Athlete Quota: 144

International Federation: World Para Ice Hockey (IPC)

Defending Champion: USA


Canada comes into these Games in hot form, winning the 2017 World Championship, easily accounting for the United States in the championship game. Canada has not won the gold since Torino in 2006 but has been improving, winning three world championships and a Paralympic bronze medal in that time. Canada is coming in on its best ever form, having cruised to the world title, at the same venue, last year.

The United States comes into this tournament as the two time defending champion, having become the first nation to win back-to-back gold medals in Sochi. The United States has been a force in the sport since hosting the Paralympic Games in 2002 and is bound to be a contender, but needs to lift after a disappointing loss to Canada in the World Championship final.

Hosts Korea Republic come in hopeful of a medal but will face a tough task to beat either of the North American sides even with home support. Coming third at the home world championships last year will give the Koreans hope of claiming at least a bronze medal but it will be a tough fight.

Norway has routinely been a medal contender at these events, having last medaled in Vancouver in 2010, earning the bronze. Norway will come into these Games with a strong chance at a medal, having finished fourth at the world championships less than a year ago.

Despite Russian athletes being allowed to compete at these Paralympic Games as Neutral Paralympic Athletes (NPA), they will be absent in this sport. That comes because the Russian Paralympic Committee was suspended from all International Paralympic Committee (IPC) activities and the IPC runs the sport. With Russia unable to compete in IPC events it was unable to qualify and will miss out, opening the door for Korea and Norway.