Alpine skier Mollie Jepsen captured Canada’s first medal of the Beijing Paralympics, a gold in the women’s downhill.
The 22-year-old from West Vancouver, B.C., won the standing downhill on Saturday in one minute 21.75 seconds. She now has five medals in her Paralympic career.
Canada added two more medals on Day 1 of the Games. Mac Marcoux of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., captured silver in the men’s downhill, while Mark Arendz of Hartsville, P.E.I., opened his busy Paralympics with a bronze in the men’s 6-kilometre biathlon.
Jepsen said her biggest challenge at Yangqing Alpine Centre was skiing a course she wasn’t familiar with.
“Usually, we ski courses a million times before racing it, but this is my fourth time on this particular track,” said Jepsen. “I’m completely overwhelmed, I knew exactly what I wanted to do today, and I am happy to have put everything out there.”
China’s Zhang Mengqiu took silver and Sweden’s Ebba Aarsjoe earned bronze.
Jepsen captured four medals at the Paralympics four years ago in Pyeongchang, winning gold in super combined, silver in slalom, and bronze in both downhill and giant slalom in 2018.
Racing in the visually impaired category, Marcoux finished in 1:13.81. Austria’s Johannes Aigner won gold in 1:13.45, while Hyacinthe Deleplace of France earned bronze in 1:14.10.
Marcoux, with guide Tristan Rodgers, competed in his first race in over two years after winning the Paralympic title in Pyeongchang.
“It was such a good run. We were so nervous, or at least I was, and I think Tristan could tell at the start,” Marcoux said. “Being able to come down and lay one down and execute everything we had planned and land on the podium is overwhelming and probably one of the more rewarding runs I’ve ever done. I’m beyond stoked.”
Arendz captured his ninth career Paralympic medal with his biathlon bronze. Battling blowing conditions that made for a challenging day of shooting at the Zhangjaikou National Biathlon Centre, the 32-year-old finished in a time of 17:13.6 in the standing biathlon race.
“It feels really good to get that first one under the belt. There are always a little nerves, but I really wanted to set the tone for the week and get that first podium,” said Arendz, who was Canada’s flag-bearer at the closing ceremony in Pyeongchang.
Ukraine’s Grygorii Vovchynskyi won the gold, while Germany’s Marco Maier won silver.
With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian team arrived in Beijing after a harrowing four-day trip.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2022.