A combined total of 22 medals from PyeongChang are represented by the recipients of this year’s Canadian Paralympic Sport Awards, as the Canadian Paralympic Committee announced today the athletes and coaches set to be honoured at the awards ceremony on November 15 in Calgary.
Handed out every two years following a Paralympic Games, the Sport Awards recognizes the outstanding achievements of Canadian athletes and coaches. This year’s awards will honour the top performances from the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, where Canada won a record 28 medals, as well as coaching at the high performance and development levels.
“A huge congratulations to all of the very well-deserving recipients of this year’s Canadian Paralympic Sport Awards,” said Marc-André Fabien, president, Canadian Paralympic Committee. “You are all phenomenal ambassadors for sport in Canada and the Paralympic Movement, and we thank you for your commitment to excellence. We look forward to celebrating your many accomplishments in Calgary.”
This year’s recipients are:
Best Male Athlete – Mark Arendz
In his third Paralympic Games, Mark Arendz was a dominant force for Canada across both cross-country and biathlon. The Para nordic skier took home six medals – the most medals won by a Canadian in a single Paralympic Winter Games – including one gold, two silver, and three bronze.
“It is such an incredible honour to receive this recognition as the male athlete of the year, especially with all of the stellar performances by Canadian Paralympic athletes throughout the year. The Canadian Paralympic Team had so many extraordinary results at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games and it will be nice to celebrate all of those moments!”
– Mark Arendz
Best Female Athlete – Mollie Jepsen
At the age of 18, Mollie Jepsen was a breakout star in Para alpine skiing at PyeongChang. She medaled in four of her five events, including a gold medal in the super combined plus a silver and two bronze.
“It is a huge honour to be recognized with this award from the Canadian Paralympic Committee. I was thrilled to represent Canada at the Games and compete alongside so many amazing athletes. I will never forget listening to the Canadian anthem on the podium with a gold medal around my neck.”
– Mollie Jepsen
Best Team Performance – Para Ice Hockey
Canada’s Para ice hockey team posted its best Paralympic result since 2006, winning the silver medal. Featuring 10 returning players and seven first-timers, the squad just missed out on the gold with an overtime loss in the final.
“PyeongChang was a great Games. It was an opportunity for our Canadian team to show the growth we had made over the years and what we are capable of. I am so proud of all the athletes and staff that represented our country so well.”
– Greg Westlake, captain of the Canadian Para ice hockey team
Best Paralympic Debut by a Male Athlete – Alexis Guimond
In the deepest field in Para alpine skiing at the Games, Alexis Guimond captured a bronze medal in the men’s standing giant slalom event. He became the first Canadian man to win a medal in a Para alpine standing competition in 20 years.
“I truly feel honoured by the fact that the efforts I put behind each and every performance at my first Paralympic Games were recognized. It has been a childhood dream of mine to compete at the Paralympic Games and to reach the Paralympic podium in front of Canadian fans. It feels amazing to have my greatest accomplishment and my passion highlighted by the people I represent. Thank you everyone for the continued support!”
– Alexis Guimond
Best Paralympic Debut by a Female Athlete – Natalie Wilkie
The youngest member of the Canadian Paralympic Team in PyeongChang at the age of 17 years and two months, Natalie Wilkie made an unforgettable Games debut. She won a medal of each colour in cross-country skiing, including gold in the 7.5KM standing race.
“Being recognized for my performances in PyeongChang brings back so many good memories from the Paralympics. I feel honoured to have been chosen for this award.”
– Natalie Wilkie
Tim Frick Paralympic Coach Excellence Award – Robin McKeever
Awarded to recognize a coach who has provided the vision, leadership, knowledge, and dedication to support athletes reaching the highest levels of Paralympic sport, this award will be presented to internationally renowned coach Robin McKeever. Under his leadership as head coach, Canada’s Para nordic team captured an incredible 16 medals at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, its best-ever performance at a Games. He has led the Canadian Para nordic team since 2010.
“No coaching award is possible without amazing athletes and equally amazing support behind the athletes. Thank you to the athletes for their performance and dedication to the sport, and thank you so much to the Para nordic staff for having my back these past four years leading into the Games.”
– Robin McKeever
Development Coach of the Year – Ken Thom
Presented to a coach who has had a remarkable impact on the development pathway for athletes in parasport, the late Ken Thom is being recognized for his immense work in Para athletics. A coach at all levels of the sport, from the club level in Mississauga, Ont. to the Paralympic Games, Thom was passionate about providing para athletes with opportunities and created programs where none existed in order to do so.
“I know my dad would be honoured and thrilled to win this award. I and many other athletes benefited greatly from his enthusiasm and dedication to our sport. On behalf of my dad and my family, I want to thank the Canadian Paralympic Committee for honouring my dad’s contribution to Canadian parasport.”
– Curtis Thom, son of Ken Thom and a three-time Paralympian
The 2018 Canadian Paralympic Sport Awards will be handed out at a luncheon on November 15 at the Fairmont Palliser in Calgary. The Sport Awards are part of a larger 2018 Canadian Paralympic Summit, a day bringing together sport leaders to discuss Paralympic sport.