Team Utah Snowboarding is all about bringing athletes to the next level in the sport, but the Adaptive Chapter of Team Utah, is already there. This group of shredders not only trains and competes in world class competitions, they do it with only one leg.
From the outside, Team Utah Snowboarding’s Adaptive Chapter may look like any other group of serious boarders, but most of the riders are above (AK) or below knee (BK) amputees, or both. In connection with the National Ability Center, these riders have come from Australia, Spain, Belgium and all over the US to train and compete with Team Utah.
As one of the first and longest running adaptive snowboard teams in the world, Team Utah and the National Ability Center’s snowboard program is world class, and so are its athletes. Coach Todd Johnson said, “We travel to most US World Cup events. Our current schedule has a World Cup in Colorado then Canada then back to Colorado after the Sochi Games where Team Utah should have quite the Paralypic representation.” In addition to these competitions, coach Travis Thiele will be accompanying several athletes to a World Cup competition in Spain.
National team members and hopefuls include Nicole Roundy (AK), Cristina Albert (BK), Megan Harmon (AK), Lucas Grossi (BK), Dan Monzo (BK), Tyler Burdick (BK) and Joe Chandler (arm).
In addition to the strong US showing, several Team Utah members are training to ride for their home countries: Denis Colle (BK, Belgium), Aitor Puertas (AK, Spain), Ben Tudhope (CP, Australia) and Damien Thomlinson (AK and BK, Australia).
While managing snowboard equipment as well as a prosthetic may sound challenging, these riders do it with ease, and speed. The team’s focus is boarder cross and coaches Stu Rea, Todd Johnson, Adi Smith and Travis Thiele have a lot to take pride in with these amazing boarders.
At the end of my time riding with the adaptive team, I had the privilege of meeting Brian Bartlett, an amputee and extreme skier himself, who now spends his time designing sports prostheses through Leftside Industries, Inc. It was fascinating to see how a sports prosthetic worked, and made me all the more impressed with these athletes.
After riding with Team Utah’s Adaptive Chapter I have no doubt these riders will be a force to be reckoned with at competition time. I’m sure of this – missing a limb doesn’t mean you’re missing speed. These riders can rip!
Susan Strayer is a writer, outdoor blogger and wanna-be pro snowboarder. Read more at www.mountainmomandtots.com.