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March 12, 2009
For immediate release

Minister Recognizes Island Paralympic Athletes Training for Vancouver 2010

Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour

With just one year to go before the beginning of the 2010 Paralympic Games, Sport Minister Carolyn Bertram is extending best wishes to two Island athletes training for the opportunity to compete with Team Canada.

“Mark Arendz and Billy Bridges are determined and motivated to compete against the world’s best athletes in Vancouver,” said Minister Bertram. “I know they have both been very busy training to meet qualifying standards. I wish them success with their training and goals to become part of the Canadian Paralympic team.”

Mark Arendz, Springton, is training in the sport of Para-Nordic Skiing. He is currently a member of the 2010 Para-Nordic Ski Team and is awaiting confirmation that he has qualified for the Paralympic Games. He recently competed with Team Canada at the IPC World Cup event at the Whistler Olympic Park, the 2010 venue for all Nordic sports.

Billy Bridges, Summerside, won Gold in Sledge Hockey at the 2006 Paralympics in Torino. He recently won gold at the 2009 Hockey Canada Cup, which was held February 24 - March 1, 2009, in Vancouver, BC and earned a Gold medal finish at the 2008 World Sledge Hockey Challenge held in Charlottetown this past November. He was the youngest player to ever join the Canadian National Sledge Hockey Team in 1998, at the age of 14.

“We are extremely proud to have two athletes represent our province and country at the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver,” said Tracy Stevenson, Executive Director of Paralympics PEI Inc. “We will be cheering them on during their quest to the podium!”

Vancouver and Whistler will host the Paralympic Winter Games from March 12 to 21, 2010. Visit for more information.


Para-Nordic Skiing

. . . involves two disciplines: cross-country skiing and biathlon. While cross-country skiing has been included in the Paralympic program since the first Paralympic Games in 1976, the biathlon event, which adds the challenge of rifle shooting, came later at the 1994 Games in Lillehammer.

In both cross-country skiing and biathlon, athletes are classified as standing, sitting or visually impaired and compete against athletes with a similar disability.

Top IPC athletes train 500 to 700 or more hours per year and compete in distances ranging from 2.5 kilometres to 20 kilometres. In this sport, passing, hills, and a sprint to the finish line all require maximum power on demand. Nordic skiing is one of the most technical of all sports; attention to detail is key.

Sledge hockey

. . . is the Paralympic version of Ice hockey. The sport debuted at the 1994 Lillehammer Paralympic Winter Games and has since become one of the biggest attractions for spectators at the Paralympic Winter Games. It is a fast-paced, highly physical game played by athletes with a physical disability in the lower part of the body.

In sledge hockey, athletes sit strapped into a metal frame that rests on two regular-sized ice-skate blades. The sledge is raised high enough to allow the puck to pass underneath. Athletes use two 75 cm long hockey sticks, with spikes on one end and blades on the other. The spike is used to propel the sledge across the ice, and the slightly curved blade is used to handle the puck. The goaltender may have an additional pick at the base end of his stick and may use an additional stick with a blade or a trapper globe with teeth.

Media Contact: Connie McNeill
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