My Story

It always works out in the end... so if it isn’t working out, it just isn’t finished yet

                     Author unknown                                                          skip to video biography (2008) 

    I was born and raised on sport and high-level competition.  My father was an athlete, coach, and phys. ed teacher, with a mission to expose my brother and I to as many sports as possible, and determined (I think) to see us succeed at the very highest competitive level in those we chose to pursue.  In my adolescence I focused on gymnastics, basketball, and soccer primarily.  Throughout high school I competed on the volleyball, basketball, soccer, and track & field teams and was eventually awarded “Athlete of the Year” (in a school of 1500) in my graduating year.  I learned to ski at the age of 5, but it had always been more of a hobby and not a competitive sport for me… during high school I switched to (the dark side) and started to spend an increasingly amount of time snowboarding.  I worked at a local hill in Edmonton as a lifty, and snowboarded during my spares at school.  I was falling in love with snowboarding and decided that the mountains were calling me.   I packed up my bags after high school ended and moved to Lake Louise to work the lifts and pursue my newfound passion.  

    It did not take me very long to start pushing my limits and boundaries as a snowboarder.  I spent 106 days on my board that year, and became friends with a pack of rippers that had already a few Lake Louise seasons under their belts.  I had no choice but to keep up, and show off my fearlessness if I wanted to roll with this crew… so I did.  I progressed quickly in the sport, spending a lot of time hitting jumps and rails as well as learning some bigger tricks towards the end including back flips (which in 2000 was kind of big for chicks… though not so much any more).  I registered for my first snowboard slope style (to take place in April of 2000), figuring that I might as well take my riding to the competitive level that is so engrained in my nature… but, fate had other plans.

    March 26, 2000 my path was redirected.  I sustained a spinal cord injury in the terrain park, much to the horror of the posse I was riding with that day.  I had too much speed going into the big table (jump), and the lip had a funny angle that morning, the combination of this and the muscle memory I had been building for inverts resulted in disaster.  I kicked upside down (unintentionally this time), and hung there… eventually falling onto my shoulder/neck from about 50ft up onto the solid terrain park surface below, and well past the transition of the jump, and onto the flats.  In my mind I intended to do a straight air, my body was doing an invert.  Anyone who knows me knows how stubborn my mind is, so I fought it the whole way, and I lost big time!  I sustained a L1/T12 spinal cord injury and was mostly paralyzed from the waist down.

  To some, this might seem a devastating blow given my athletic history.  I didn’t know how I might react, but my passion for mountain culture and riding was so strong, and I was having such an amazing ride… I really did not want it to end.  I immediately made plans (literally an hour after my surgery was completed) to find a sit ski and get back to riding as soon as humanly possible.  I had to spend a couple of months in hospital healing, but was ready at the first sight of snow in the fall.  I jumped straight back into chasing my crew, and spent too much time in the terrain park in the early years (perhaps trying to prove something).  I was also steered quickly towards ski racing, where I was able to set my mind on one goal and take it back to what I know best… competition.  

  It took a few years to beat the snowboarder out of me, but I think I can officially call myself a racer now.  I have gained a lot of knowledge over the past 14 seasons, and am truly lucky to have had the opportunity in my life to ski, snowboard, and sit ski, because my scope of understanding is just that much broader.  I have been competing for the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team for 12 years now, and am just beginning the road to my 4th Paralympic Games opportunity.  My passion for the sport is stronger than ever, and each season I learn and grow a little more as a sit skier and an athlete.  I am not going to say that I never miss having full use of my legs, but I rest easy in the knowledge that I truly made FULL use of my legs while I had the privilege.  My injury opened up a door to a world I would have never otherwise known, full of amazing people, the chance to compete at an Olympic level, and the opportunity to grow and develop as a better version of myself (that one is still a work in progress). 

    Check out this biography short, filmed at the close of the 2007/2008 season if you want to see some pre-injury sports clips, or hear me tell the story in interview format.  Please bare with me though, my humility and interviewing skills have both improved dramatically since this was taken.

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