Tyler Mosher shattered his back snowboarding in Whistler 14 years ago. He was told he would live in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Not only did he learn to walk again, but in March the Canadian will compete in para-snowboarding at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. His quest for gold comes after years of difficult recovery and fighting for recognition of the sport he loves.
A Paralympic first
On May 2, 2012 the International Paralympic Committee announced that para-snowboarding would make its debut at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
Athletes will race one at a time down a snowboard cross course that includes bank turns, various jumps, rollers and more. The finish times of their best two out of three runs will determine the results.
Canada Snowboard has been at the forefront of the para-snowboard movement, developing the world’s first comprehensive program for competitive snowboarding for athletes with a disability. It also developed the world’s first Para Snowboard national team and hosted the first para-snowboard World Cup in Whistler in 2008.
The Men’s and Women’s Para-snowboard Cross events take place on March 14.
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What will be on Tyler’s mind in the starting gate?
‘A bit of a shocker’
Para-snowboarding has traditionally used a system that classified athletes according to the severity of their disability and then factored their time accordingly. The International Paralympic Committee is currently reviewing that system so it will not be used in Sochi.
“Unfortunately for me, I’m more disabled than most of my opponents who are below knee amputees,” said Mosher, who is 40 per cent paralyzed.
“It was a bit of a shocker to me to realize that my three per cent advantage wasn’t going to count.”
It’s the price that athletes were willing to pay in order to compete on the world’s stage.
“It may not appear it’s an even playing field but that’s the reality that all the athletes know that they’re playing in and have agreed to play in,” said Dustin Heise, the director of sport development at Snowboard Canada.
Mosher is quick to point out that he’s not looking for excuses. “You just have to deal with it and at the end of the day you’ve just got to be faster.”
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