Just six months ago, Whistler's Tyler Mosher was convinced that para-snowboarding would not be on the schedule for the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi. In fact, the sport had just been turned down for inclusion the previous August.
That all changed for Mosher on May 2.
"The announcement was on May 2 that snowboarding would go to the Paralympic Games and it was a bit of a surprise," he said.
"I started training almost immediately. I've been training at the (Canadian Sports Centre Pacific) high performance gym, I'm running a landscaping company, I've been riding bikes as much as I can with my dogs, and doing Siberian Sandbox gym classes. I've been exercising and building strength at The Core, I do a lot of ball work, and I've done thousands and thousands and thousands of squats. No joke. Thousands of squats and thousands of lunges."
The first test of all that exercise is a competition in the Netherlands on Nov. 22-23 at the indoor Funpark facility.
Because of the venue he knows the course will be short and not as technical as some of the events he's struggled with in the past.
"My goal is to get classified (by the IPC) and win gold," said Mosher simply. "My strength is that I'm a fast glider, and a good starter and I can really go fast if I can keep my board flat. Once a course gets more technical it's harder for me. I'm good at picking fast lines, but the way courses are becoming more technical has really exposed my weaknesses.
"For example, the world championship course was too hard for me. The first day I did fine, but on the second day the course was a little faster and I kept missing the transition on the last jump because I was going faster than other riders and couldn't recover. It's a problem when I'm in the air because I don't have any shock absorption while I'm landing."
Mosher said all those years of hard work is paying off in the gym as he works to reach his next goal of competing for Canada — and winning — at the 2014 Paralympic Games.
A lot will ultimately depend on what format and classification system is used at the Sochi Games, as well as the design of the course, but on a fast course with no major jumps and with the same classification he's been racing in at World Snowboard Federation events, he feels it's within reach.
"My real advantage is that I have four 100-day seasons on the mountain, and before my injury I was a pretty good snowboarder," he said. "I know what it's like to go fast and pick a fast line, it wasn't new to me — I know what it's supposed to feel like, even if I can't always feel my legs, if that makes any sense."
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