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BL : Actually, the very first time I went up with an instructor, and after that I just went up with my buddies and it was trial and error, over and over.
Pique : What's it like crashing in a sit-ski at high speed?
BL : Well at high speeds, hopefully the ski doesn't break or just pop off, which happens, but otherwise you just lay her down and slide. Hope you don't hit anything.
There was a lot of crashes in the first few years. Heck, there's still a lot of crashes. It's definitely part of the sport.
Pique : You know, I've never seen that. I'm always amazed to see how much speed and control you guys have coming down the slopes. Can you tell me what the appeal of sit-skiing was for you and how you first got into racing?
BL : Well I started racing back in 1996, that would be my first year on the B.C. Ski Team.
The thing is, when I first started sit-skiing, I would just go out with my friends for fun. I had no idea what other sit-skiers were up to, so I got a-hold of a disabled sit-skiers association and asked them how I could go out with other sit-skiers.
They were having a provincial championship coming up, so I was told to just show up at that and there would be other people I could talk to. I ended up doing well and the provincial coaches noticed me and asked if I would be interested in joining their ski team. I figured there was no better way to become a better disabled skier than to race train.
Pique : Was that Phil Chew?
BL : Yes it was.
Pique : How much impact did Phil have on your skiing?
BL : Huge, huge impact. I'd say that he brought out the passion for ski racing in me for sure. He's great.
Pique : How do you go from racing at the provincial level, doing it to ski with more sit-skiers, to gunning for a spot in the Paralympics in 2006? What was the process there?
BL : Each year you're on the provincial team you get a chance to go to the nationals, and depending on how you do at the nationals, the coaches up there keep track of you - who's coming up, who they're interested in. And as you get better results at the national level, you're asked to move on. You start with the development team first of all, and from there you can move up to the World Cup team. It's a lot harder to move up (to the national team), you have to get the results, but there's a lot of support.