Local athlete on cross-country podium 

Whistler’s Tyler Mosher is off to a promising start in his very first season training for the Canadian National Disabled Cross Country Ski Team.

Last week, March 21 to 28, the team took part in the 41 st annual Ridderrennet races held in Beitostolen, Norway. This is the largest disabled cross country event in the world with more than 700 racers representing 14 countries.

Sit skiers Jean-Thomas Boily and Colette Bourgonie won every race they entered, while Sauna Maria White, another sit skier, made every podium.

Mosher, a standing skier, was also on the podium in every race he entered, placing third in the biathlon, third in the 10K and second in the 15K.

Mosher is new to the team and the sport, but has been training hard all winter to get his time down enough to compete at the international level.

He was a little discouraged after racing in his first World Cup in New Brunswick in February, but says the Ridderrnett races gave him a boost.

"It’s a good confidence builder, and it was a large event. I really proved to the coaches that I’ve made progress, and hopefully I’ll get to travel with the national team next year, and maybe even compete in the 2006 Paralympics," said Mosher.

He competed a level below the World Cup, but said there was strong competition in every category, including athletes with a lot more experience than he had.

The difference, says Mosher, was the personal coaching he got that week as part of an International Paralympic Committee camp hosted by Paralympic champions. Only eight skiers took part in the camp, including two athletes from China, women from Finland, Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway, and another Canadian.

"We got the full training experience," said Mosher. "We’d get lectures after we raced, everything was video-taped so they could show us our technique and teach us new things, and learn to do better next time.

"I was disappointed by the World Cup, but now I’ve been there, done that, and I’m gaining experience. They’ve (the coaches) offered their expertise in the future, too, which will really help with our development training."

Mosher will start summer training with a camp at Mount Washington that teaches athletes how to use roller skis. After that he will be back in Whistler cross-training, doing cardio and weight exercises until the end of July. After that he will spend most of his time on roller skis until the end of October to get ready for winter competitions.

Mosher is currently getting assistance from Wild Willies, the RMOW, the Whistler Adaptive Ski Program and the Telus Whistler Sports Centre through the Game Plan B.C. program.

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