Mark Allan Urich was born on October 10, 1985 in Denver, CO. He was born with a congenital birth defect known as Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency, or PFFD, where his femur was severely underdeveloped on his right side. This led to an amputation of what remained of his right leg at the age of 2 in order to better fit a prosthetic device. Already an active toddler, Mark quickly became accustomed to his new “robot leg” and soon he wanted to be involved in sports with the rest of his peers. Mark’s awesome mother Cheryl Martin and his supportive family, encouraged him to participate in any sport he wished and soon he was playing a sport in every season. Little league baseball was Mark’s first team sport, but it wasn’t until he started playing football that he discovered a true passion for competing and athletics. Sports, especially football at that age, always kept Mark driven and focused, even in times of sorrow. After losing his father to cancer at the age of 12 and his grandfather shortly thereafter, Mark unknowingly realized the power of healing through sport. Being that his immediate male figures in his life had been taken from him, he relied heavily on the support of his coaches and teammates and eventually was able to cope with the loss. With a new found level of support, he continued to play football through high school, making Varsity as a sophomore as a defensive tackle.
After high school, he attended the University of Colorado in Boulder. Eager to get back to competing, he tried a few intramural sports but it didn’t quite fill the void until one day, a crew demonstration on the quad with an 8 man boat sparked his attention. A week later Mark was rowing at 5 in the morning on the Boulder Reservoir, a proud new member of the University of Colorado Rowing Team. In his second year, he made the Varsity boat and was able to compete in some spectacular events such as the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, MA.
After college however, Mark lost touch with athletics and started managing a bar. Slowly, he began to lose the drive and passion for life that he once had while competing. After a couple years of this lifestyle, Mark’s life began to spiral downward into a mess of drinking and partying and eventually it consumed his life. It took him several burnt bridges and big mistakes to hit his “rock bottom” where he realized that if he kept up this lifestyle, he would probably end up in the obituaries. He decided to quit these patterns cold turkey and almost instantly, his life changed again for the better as he unknowingly opened the door to a much brighter (yet colder…) future.
Mark, with his new perspective on life, was introduced to skiing in November of 2010 by friend and now teammate, Alana Nichols. Being a 3-time gold medalist from the Paralympics, Alana couldn’t believe he had never tried adaptive skiing before. Mark’s first day was pretty rocky to say the least, but he was hooked. Alana introduced him to the coaches at the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, CO, where he found out that if he trained hard enough, there was a possibility of competing that same year. The internal fire for competition that had been previously snuffed out in his prior life was burning bright again. Mark immediately enrolled in a “Learn to Race” camp and in that following spring, he raced his first Downhill race in Alyeska, Alaska and came in 9th.
Currently, Mark lives and trains in Winter Park, CO with the National Sports Center for the Disabled. His drive and determination, along with the stellar coaching from the NSCD, allowed him to finish 4th last season at the U.S. Adaptive Alpine Nationals in Aspen, CO in both the Downhill and Super G events. This season he hopes to podium and earn sufficient race points to be considered for the U.S. Paralympic Alpine Ski Team. He is now fully immersed in the life as a ski racer and has every intention of bringing home a gold medal for the U.S.A. in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia!