To get you up to speed: Arly started his humble beginnings as a mountain bike junior world champion at the age of 12. Unfortunately, on September 29, 2001, Arly was involved in a mountain bike accident that would lead to a T6/T7 injury that left him paralyzed for the rest of his life. After his injury, Arly still had a longing to be with the mountain and to everyone’s disbelief, he sold all his belongings, packed his bags, and headed north with dreams to one day compete at the top level in the winter mono-ski discipline.
Fast forward to 2022 and you can find Arly meeting celebrities like Memo Ochoa (famous Mexican futbol goalkeeper), guest starring on Marco Antonio Regil’s famous podcast, or acting in Toyota commercials leading up to the Olympic games. This young man has certainly lived quite a life to this point and with his approach on life, hard work and dedication to achieve his goals, and ability to remain humble and personable throughout the process, has gained the attention of us here at Motion Composites (that and his beautiful APEX A he used as a flag bearer at this year’s games). After hearing of this exceptional human being, we decided to organize a meet and great to discuss his past, present, and future within the world of sports and life in general.
Photo: courtesy of Alan Amper
Motion Composites: Considering you are from Mexico, and you are competed in the WINTER Olympics, our first questions obviously must be, how did you enter the world of winter sports?
Arly Velasquez: My entry to winter sports started with my love of the mountain. Being a junior mountain bike champion, I spent all my days in this atmosphere, and I missed the stimulation it brought; like the feeling of no boundaries when I am out there. I am very competitive, addicted to competition you could say; so, when I discovered the adaptive sport, mono-skiing in January 2009, I told myself, “I am going to train in that until I become professional, and my goal is to be in the 2010 winter Paralympics.” So, I sold everything, raised some money locally with my marketing and music industry background and drove for 14 hours to get to Park City, Utah, where people had told me it was a good place to train myself. I kept on training in different places (Colorado, New Zealand, etc.) and at the end of that season I was in my first Paralympics. At that moment, I knew that it was just the beginning.
MC: Second question, we love your APEX, it looks great in all your flag bearing photos during the opening ceremony of the games! How did you hear about Motion Composites?
AV: Well for those who don’t know, adaptive equipment can be on the more expensive side, I also understand to compete at the highest level you need the lightest and most durable equipment to excel. With my limited budget, I started creating my own mono-ski equipment from carbon fiber. When it came to acquiring a chair, my thought process was the same. I met with a local wheelchair dealer and loved the look and feel of the APEX Aluminum, so I decided then and there that was my chair. The chair is an extension of me, and a perfect reflection of how important quality equipment is to me in sports and in life.
Photo: courtesy of Romarico Cibrian
MC: Being the ONLY competitor that represented the ENTIRE country of Mexico, how did it feel at the Paralympic games? Was there any added pressure?
AV: Ha-ha being from Mexico and beating some of the athletes that were from countries where the mono-skiing is a common sport, I did gain the community nickname of “The Flying Burrito” which is cool, it was a feeling of being accepted and noticed as a new, young up incomer into the sport. I put a lot of pressure on myself in competition already, so to say “added” I would say, no, not really; at the end of the day, I know what I am capable of and if I try hard and meet my expectations, maybe not necessarily the expectation of other people; I am just happy to be competing at the top level. I feel so privileged to have these opportunities that once I am on the slope, I don’t even think about it. The pressure comes more in the training and months leading up to an event like the Paralympics games.
Photo: courtesy of Alan Amper
MC: It was unfortunate to see the disqualification, but your fan base really seems to be rallying behind you with positive support. How does it feel knowing you have such a huge impact in the wheelchair community?
AV: Actually, in the time leading up to the games, I was not aware if I would be competing at this year’s event or not; so just being at the games was a blessing. You know when I get on the hill, check my equipment, and begin to zone in; I just think about me and the mountain and react to what my body and mind are trained to do. From the start, I could tell something did not feel right; the artificial section of the mountain was causing difficulties all day, and this unfortunately resulted in my crash/disqualification. At this point in my career the only person’s expectations I am trying to meet are my own; I was proud to be there, was I a little disappointed? Of course, as a competitor I have to say yes. But when I saw the fans and community rally behind, it was nice to see, and it left me with a great appreciation for my supporting cast.
MC: First it was Vancouver 2010, then Sochi 2014, after Pyeongchang 2018 and finally Beijing 2022. It may be too early for you to tell us, but we must ask, do you have any plans for a 2026 campaign in Milano & Cortina?
AV: I just got back from Beijing, but with the circumstances that lead to the Paralympics (the pandemic), and not being able to properly train more than once for these 2022 games (which is not ideal). I decided to go back for one more in Italy 2026!
But for now, I need to take some time off, I need a little bit of sun, do a little road trip with my girlfriend and kind of recharge my batteries!
There is something else that I am really excited about, the reality for me (as a Mexican) and some other Latin mono-skiers is that it is kind of inevitable for us coming from “small” nations at the winter sports, compared to the USA or even Canada, who have more accessibility for these kinds of sports. So, we have decided to join forces together with other Latin mono-skiers and I know that there is going to be a time when people will be thinking “oh, no! here come the Latinos!”
MC: From meeting Memo Ochoa (Mexican Professional Futbol Player Goalkeeper) to being hosted on Marco Antonio Regil’s podcast (Mexican TV personality), and even staring in an international Paralympic Toyota commercial; we see you have quite the following in your APEX. Any plans for a post—games P.R. campaign? What has been your most surreal moment up to this point in your journey?
AV: Yes, I am making my rounds now talking to all the people who were interested in my Olympic journey. Before the games I was so focused I didn’t really have time do it, so now I am making time to share my story with the people.
Actually… The best might still be to come! I just got done doing an acting gig for an Amazon Prime TV show that will premiere season 3 in the near future (Ana). Be on the look at for me as I try to develop my career as an actor (humbly laughing). No, you know what I have done many things in this life of mine and every one of these moments—good or bad—I will cherish forever.
Photo: Arly Velasquez with Memo Ochoa (Mexican Professional Futbol Player Goalkeeper) and Ines Sainz (mexican sports commentator).
MC: We understand the world of winter adaptive sports is becoming increasingly popular, do you have any advice to up-and-coming young athletes with disabilities?
AV: Whatever you want to do or dream of doing you are capable! Not every path will be successful but if you push for your dreams and find your reason “why,” you will be content with yourself at the end of each day. Once you get older, you look back 20+ years from now and say, “Hey, I really went for it and tried my best” and that is all you can ask for. I still look at my younger career and accomplishments and evaluate how I can learn from those experiences so in 20 years from now I can talk about what we are doing here today! This is not just in sports either, this is life, be POWERFUL in your efforts and give it your best!
MC: You are truly a multi-faceted guy! Any last comments?
AV: I am a firm believer that we have the responsibility to deconstruct ourselves. We cannot attach ourselves constantly to one single identity. It is hard to get married to one single idea of yourself, when we are complex beings. This is the mentality that has continued to push me further and become the person that I am now. For example, when I broke my back, I passed from being a young athlete to a person with a disability, but I am not just that.
I believe that this mentality has given me somehow the wisdom and the opportunity to deconstruct and reconstruct myself an infinite number of times. I am not going to say that it has been an easy journey, but it has pushed me to open my own bakery (Panuino), become an actor, a Paralympic athlete, and keep on dreaming and working to build the reality that I want for myself! And I believe anyone can do this!
Thank you for your time today, Motion Composites is truly honored to have the opportunity to share your story on our platform. We hope to see you soon bearing the beautiful Mexican Flag and Motion Composites Logo! Make sure to check Arly’s social media and if you are ever in Mexico City take the opportunity to check out his bakery.