Despite the fact that he took most of the season off, Campbell Riverite Tyler Turner managed to become the first Canadian to successfully defend his world championship win for para-snowboarding.
Turner is a double amputee, having lost both legs in a skydiving accident. However, he has not let that keep him down. Turner returned to his lifelong love of snowboarding and made it his goal to ride again. He managed to do much more than that, winning Paralympic gold, winning the world championships in Norway last year, among other accolades in surfing and skydiving.
After success in both the Paralympic games in Beijing last year and winning gold in the world championships, he and his girlfriend sailed down to Mexico from Campbell River over seven months. After some much-needed rest and relaxation, Turner flew home to work on a new project: new prosthetics.
“My legs have been horrible,” he said. “I was in my wheelchair for the majority of the time since last summer. My legs have been fitting poorly. I’ve had some issues and some minor procedures down in Mexico and it’s been a bit of a journey.”
That being said, he was ready for competition at the La Molina resort in Spain. All Canada Snowboard had in mind for Turner was for him to try and get on a podium. However, Turner said he has “a switch that flips. So as soon as it was race time, It’s like ‘screw the podium. Let’s try and win this thing.’”
And he did win this thing.
Turner placed first in the big final for the snowboard cross event on March 11, successfully defending his world championship title. He also came fourth in the dual banked slalom event. He also managed to do it on brand new legs. After Mexico, Turner worked with a Vancouver-based prosthetist Ricky Chu, as well as BioDapt, a company that manufactures foot and leg prosthetics for athletes. The new prosthetics include improved leg cups, a better attachment system and a foot system that incorporates a mountain bike shock.
“Mike Schultz — who got second in at the World Championships last year — he invented the foot that I use. So he designed it in his farm shop and then, you know got a patent for it and started this company.
“Essentially that foot has changed para-snowboarding,” Turner said. “I’m training with the able-bodied team. I can’t beat them, but I can hang with them and it feels really good.”
An added bonus of the foot is that whenever Turner needs to repair the shock, he can take it to any bike shop.
“I had to get the seals rebuilt this year and it’s sweet just get into a bike shop get them get them booked in for service,” Turner said.
While Turner only had the one weekend of competition this year, he is looking forward to some other non-competition activities over the next few months.
“One of my big things since Beijing has been to try and get some more people in sport some younger people in the sport and do my best to mentor them,” he said. “We’ve got some really great young kids that are interested, and actually another guy from the Island … from Port Alberni.
“Hopefully we can show up with a bigger team next year.”
Though the snow will melt, Turner expects to be busy this summer. That includes helping out with Operation Pegasus Jump in July.
“I look forward to that and hoping to get some like amputees at that event this year,” he said. “I’m not military, but I can show up and help to show that it’s possible.”
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