Alpine skiing champion Mac Marko announces his retirement

Alpine skiing champion Mac Marko announced his retirement on Wednesday, but he’s not done with the sport.

The 26-year-old from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., has won six Paralympic medals, including three golds, and five world titles in the visually impaired classification of alpine skiing.

His mentors included his brother Billy Joe, followed by Robin Raimi, Jack Leach and Tristan Rodgers.

Marco took gold in four of his five races at the 2017 World Championships. He won all eight World Cup races he entered in 2019-20.

He won a silver medal at the 2022 Beijing Paralympics despite missing several months of training and racing due to knee surgery and a back injury.

Marco crashed in a super-G in Beijing and withdrew from the rest of the Paralympics due to a back injury.

“We’ve gotten to a point in my career where my body isn’t holding up the way it used to and is starting to have some long-term effects from back injuries,” Marko said. “It’s time for me to focus on the rest of my life and I hope I can wear my socks for the foreseeable future.

“It’s been an absolutely amazing tour over the last 12 years. The community that ski racing has created for me… it’s so humbling to look back and realize how important a part of ski racing is in your life, and even though I’m not competing I still have “A great community within the sport.”

Marco, who started skating at age four, began losing his vision to Stargardt macular degeneration at age nine. He was ultimately left with six percent vision. His brother Billy Joe began mentoring him in ski racing in 2011.

“When Mac and BJ came on the scene, they were barely teenagers,” Matt Hallatt, Alpine Canada’s high performance director, said in a statement.

“They were just two kids having fun and skating fast, and I’m grateful to have witnessed Mac never lose those qualities. There will never be another like him and he leaves a great legacy for those behind him to chase.”

Marco continues to ski and snowmobile in the backcountry. He wants to educate outdoor companies and guides about accessibility for the visually impaired, for people who use sit-down sleds and for people with other disabilities.

He produced a short film of himself skiing and snowboarding in remote mountains as part of his show.

“When you tell people you’re legally blind, they immediately think of white canes and guide dogs, not the kinds of things we’re exposed to every day,” Marko said.

“The whole idea behind offering this is just to get more people to get out and pursue passions that maybe don’t necessarily fall under the Paralympic umbrella. They’re just looking for some ideas on how to make things work in an environment in a way that’s productive and safe for all of these sports that don’t exist.” “It really has a way for athletes with disabilities to date.”

Marco also contributed to Rodgers’ previous mentor book, More Than Meets the Eye.

The duo was the first visually impaired team to tackle three challenging freestyle ski runs called The Coffin, Exciting and Kaleidscope in Whistler-Blackcomb in British Columbia. Their efforts were chronicled in a documentary called “Blind Faith.”

(Tags for translation)Alpine skiing

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