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Alta states

Phil Chew – Redefining disabled



He bopped into Wild Willie's ski shop with his eyes as round as saucers. He still wore his forerunner's bib and downhill suit. A silly grin was spread across his grizzled features. "Wow," he said, his sandpapery voice almost dreamy in tone. "Wow. Wow. Wow." A long pause. "That was really fast."

And then he laughed. Almost manically - like a little kid after a particularly dangerous escapade. Continued talking. "The snow was way harder than I expected. I mean, it was totally slick. And I got going way too fast. I thought I was done for..."

It was obvious from his tone that a boatload of adrenaline was still surging through his body. He was almost shaking he was so excited. "It caught me by surprise, you know. I came screaming through Frog Bank there and got so low that I thought 'there's now way I'm gonna make it through the next gate...'" Another growly guffaw. "But I did. Still, I need to put a little more edge on my ski."

Bill Lamond wore his usual sardonic half-smile. "What have you been doing with this ski?" asked the shop's owner as he examined the lone downhill board sceptically. "Been riding through the parking lot with it? No wonder you found the going tough." He let the thought hang there for a few seconds. Then he laughed. "Good thing you don't have two of 'em. I'd be here till midnight."

The skier nodded. Almost absentmindedly. "Yeah. Yeah. Whatever. Besides, I haven't used that ski since forerunning last year's World Cup finals. And the course was a lot softer then." It was clear the two had a longstanding relationship. Mutual needling was their common tongue. "Could you just make sure I don't go sideways tomorrow?"

Lamond nodded. "You go and do your chores bud. I'll make sure this ski is sharp enough to shave with by the time you get back."

The skier sighed with relief. "I've got a competitor's meeting right now," he said. "But I'll be back in an hour." He stopped. A monster grin split his face in half. "I really appreciate this Bill. I owe you."

"Yeah - about a million bucks' worth," answered Lamond. "I'll just put it on your tab."

As suddenly as he appeared, the guy was gone. For a man with one leg and crutches, I thought, he sure can move fast...

I wasn't planning on doing a story on Phil Chew. After all, the long-time Whistlerite has been something of a media darling these last few weeks. Carrier of the Games torch, coach of some of the biggest names at the event, general spokesperson for all things Paralympic, Chew doesn't really need any more promotion. But I couldn't help myself. He deserves another story. The guy is such a mensch .

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