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Paralympics 101

Canada won a snowboarding medal at Torino, so why isn't snowboarding in the Paralympics?

Tyler Mosher says Canada would win more medals if he were competing at the Paralympic games in Torino next week.

"If we had snowboarding I feel fairly confident in saying I could go there next week and bring home some medals," Mosher said from Zurich where he is training.

But because snowboarding is not a recognized sport the Whistler resident will likely wait until 2010, when snowboarding may be a demonstration sport. In the meantime, Mosher, 33, who suffered a spinal cord injury while snowboarding in 2001 and remains partially paralyzed from the waist down, still rides and continues to lobby for the sport’s recognition and to encourage others to take it up.

"But there isn’t any funding for disabled snowboarding and it’s hard to get people involved when they’re paying their own money to travel around."

That may change, says the head of the Canadian Snowboard Federation.

"There is a good chance we will get support from Sport Canada this spring to formally establish a Canadian adaptive snowboarding program," said Tom McIllfaterick, federation CEO.

McIlfaterick says recognition for the sport is contingent on implementing two required international competitions with eight participating countries.

"At this point we have neither," McIllfaterick said from the federation’s Calgary office. "So we’re working with the International Ski Federation, (the) governing body for snowboarding, to try and build up activity and organize world championship events. It’s late but there is still an opportunity to do that."

Mosher was the driving force behind bringing the need for recognition to the federation’s attention, lobbying at their annual general meeting for the need to advocate for the sport. A former avid recreational snowboarder, Mosher has become a fierce competitive snowboarder and supporter.

After his injury Mosher rediscovered the sport through the Whistler Adaptive Ski (now Sports) Program and found local ski shops and snowboard manufacturers willing to help him. He is now active with WASP, which helps those with varying degrees of disabilities learn to snowboard and possibly head to the 2010 Paralympic Games in Whistler.

"Doing anything to improve the quality of living for anyone is great and there’s no reason why snowboarding shouldn’t be more popular among people in general and among the adaptive community," said Mosher.