Arrived in Sochi safe and sound the night of March 3. We’ve got really nice rooms in the Para-Nordic athletes’ luxury village, where the temperatures are hitting Olympic heights.
The air is full of energy! Flags are flying on balconies all over the village and the athletes have started the traditional pin exchange.
The snow conditions are difficult, but the energy and smiles of the Canadian Paralympic Committee volunteers and team – who are treating us like royalty – more than make up for that.
Fifteen of the fifty-four Canadian athletes are on the para-Nordic ski team, which consists of cross-country skiing and the biathlon. That’s 11 skiers and 4 guides for those with impaired vision.
It’s a great honour for me to be among such exceptional athletes as Brian McKeever – who has won 11 Paralympic medals and is the only Canadian athlete to qualify for both the Paralympic Games and the Olympic Games at the same time – and Robbi Weldon – who won the gold medal in paracycling at the London Games.
The Games kicked off on Saturday, March 8, 2014 with the short-distance biathlon, attended by Russian president Vladimir Putin, who’s a real sports fan. We don’t get many spectators at the World Cup. The crowd generated an impressive amount of energy, inspiring Mark Arendz to take the silver.
I came in last, but was totally pumped by my first Paralympic experience, having earned 7/10, my best international shooting score ever. At my first World Cup in January 2012, I missed all my targets.
I’m especially pleased to be representing Canada in the biathlon. The sport is really big in Europe, but much less popular in Canada, partly because of the lack of facilities. Only 3 of 11 Canadian skiers qualified for both the biathlon and cross-country skiing.
There are three trials left to come: the mid-distance biathlon, cross-country sprint and mid-distance cross-country. The experience continues!
- Caroline Bisson, Para-Nordic athlete
Note: Since writing this post and at the time of publication, Brian McKeever won two gold medals at the Paralympic Games, Mark Arendz a bronze medal in biathlon 12.5 km and Caroline Bisson ranked 11th in biathlon 10 km and 14th in biathlon 6 km.