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First Person - Brad Lennea



A six-year plan

Whistler's Brad Lennea sets his sights on Paralympics

Brad Lennea has a six-year plan that starts on the slopes and ends on the podium at home in the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games. In between now and then his goal is to represent Canada at the 2006 Winter Games at Torino Italy, as well as every World Cup and World Championship he can get into.

Originally from Mission, B.C., Lennea was paralyzed as a result of a car crash in 1991. He used to ski at Hemlock before the accident, and three years afterwards he found himself back on the slopes on a sit-ski with the help of friends who worked as lift operators for the mountain.

Within another three years he found himself at the provincial championships at Cypress, where he won two gold medals and caught the attention of Whistler's Phil Chew, the head coach for the B.C. Disabled Ski Team. He moved up to Whistler a few years ago to step up his training, and so far it's paid off. Lennea worked his way up the ranks to the development team for the 2002-03 season, and this summer he was named to the Canadian Disabled Alpine Ski Team.

Because he skis in all four alpine disciplines, he has a full schedule of 24 international races on his plate this season. To get ready, he went to three different training camps over the summer, including a camp in Austria where he practised alongside members of the strong European teams.

It's a huge commitment, but Lennea is determined to see it through. With the sport growing in size and stature, and programs fitting in place for Paralympic athletes, there's never been a better time in history to be a disabled skier. Lennea just wants to make the most of it, for himself and for all of the other young athletes coming up the ranks.

Pique: Have you always been a racer, or is it something you picked up along with the sport?

BL: I was a recreational skier beforehand, not too serious. I'd never skied anywhere but Hemlock before this.

Pique: So what was it like the first time out there in the sit-ski?

BL: Pretty exciting, I guess. It was a lot of work, too, getting used to the balance and making turns and whatnot. It was fun.

Pique : Did it take a while to get used to it? Were you up there every weekend?