This year’s Winter Olympic Games may have come to a close, but we’re still celebrating the 26 medals Team Canada took home (only once before have we won more!). Now, Canadians have turned their sports‑loving attention to the Paralympic Games, which kicked off March 4 in Beijing. We had the opportunity to sit down with three decorated Canadian Paralympians: Mark Arendz, para–Nordic skier and biathlete; Tyler McGregor, sledge hockey player; and Frédérique Turgeon, para–Alpine skier. They share everything from their quirkiest competition rituals and top travel hacks to the importance of giving back.
We caught up with Paralympians Mark Arendz, Tyler McGregor and Frédérique Turgeon to chat about everything from their earliest travel memories to the food they crave most when they’re away from home.
enRoute What’s your earliest travel memory?
Mark Arendz I don’t remember much of my first travel experience, when my parents took me to the Netherlands to visit family for my first birthday. (I have returned several times over the years on family and solo trips.) We were on a 747 and I spent the entire flight running from the front to the back, up the stairs and back down, again and again. I’m not sure if all the passengers appreciated my enthusiasm, but I was going places.
Tyler McGregor My childhood best friend moved out to Alberta the summer before we began high school. I flew out to visit him for a week. It was my first time seeing Western Canada and the Canadian Rockies.
Frédérique Turgeon I don’t even remember where we were going, but this one time we had to get up really early to leave for our trip, so my mom and dad planned everything for my sister and me to be comfortable on the way there: pyjamas, movies, doughnuts. That definitely made travelling so much more enjoyable.
ER What food do you crave most when returning to Canada?
MA After being away, the food I most look forward to is freshly pressed orange juice. Yes, I know I can get that when travelling, but usually it’s not an easy option. At home, every morning, I press a glass of fresh orange juice – or grapefruit juice on occasion.
ER What’s your quirkiest ritual when getting ready for a competition?
TM I never eat a full breakfast on game days, just fruit and coffee. And I have a specific compression sock for my right foot that I’ve worn every game I’ve played for Team Canada.
ER What are your go–to travel hacks or tips?
MA I always carry a pair of ski boots and running shoes, along with a change of clothes, in my carry–on. Then if I have a long layover or a delay, I’m ready for a workout.
TM As a last–minute overpacker, I always roll my clothes to maximize space.
FT I plan out my sleep schedule a couple of days before departure so that I’m not jet–lagged once I get to my destination.
ER And do you have any carry–on travel essentials?
MA A water bottle, my Kindle e–reader and noise–cancelling headphones.
TM Melatonin, so I can get a bit of sleep.
FT Lip balm, hand cream and my Nintendo Switch.
ER After Beijing, what would you like to accomplish?
FT I would love to participate in the summer Paralympics. I don’t know what sport, but it’s definitely a dream of mine to experience both winter and summer Paralympics. That being said, my main goal after Beijing will be to win a gold medal in para–Alpine skiing at the Milano Cortina Paralympics in 2026.
ER Air Canada is making a $2,500 donation on your behalf to a charity of your choice. Which charity did you choose and why?
MA My charity of choice is the IWK Health Centre in Halifax. When I was seven years old, I was involved in a farm accident. As a result, I was airlifted to the IWK. I would spend the next two weeks in their care after the amputation of my left arm above the elbow. The staff there were excellent and left a significant impact, which I still recall today. The IWK Health Centre’s services have impacted many families across the Maritimes.
TM The Terry Fox Foundation. I’d always been inspired by Terry Fox and how he changed so many people’s lives, including my own, because I was diagnosed with a similar form of bone cancer that also resulted in an amputation. Terry Fox not only provided me with a sense of hope, but because of the Marathon of Hope he started in 1980, and the ongoing efforts of the Terry Fox Foundation since then, I’ve benefited from advanced care and treatment that allowed me to regain my health and continue to pursue my dreams. It’s important to me to continue his legacy and do my part in making sure everyone else dealing with cancer is blessed with the same opportunity to move forward with their lives cancer–free.
FT I chose Breakfast Club of Canada because I think it’s important to fuel kids’ bodies and minds for them to reach their full potential. Once I realized the importance of a good breakfast, it changed the way I approached the day.