One day before the first of his four Paralympic alpine races, Morgan Perrin was cool, calm, collected.
"I wouldn't say I am scared," said a straight-faced Perrin on Tuesday, March 16 as a grey drizzle fell in Whistler Village and snow peppered the mountains. All of his events have been rescheduled due to weather conditions. "I am a bit nervous and very excited as well."
Perhaps his confidence comes in part from an incredible work ethic. In the past month, Perrin has been putting serious hours into prepping his muscles and mind for the competition ahead.
He participated in a snow camp at Panorama Mountain Village, followed by two weeks of dry training and tough anaerobic, aerobic and weight workouts in Whistler. He then went on a retreat to Vancouver Island with the rest of his para-alpine team to relax and focus on mental training.
Now back in Whistler, Perrin has been working on a modified dryland training program, although he has also been hitting the slopes to ski whenever he can.
"I just try and keep a positive mindset and relax as much as I can," he said.
The standing alpine skier was born without hands and feet. He has a heel structure but no ankle. He first slipped into a pair of skis at the age of four, although he has been involved in a variety of other sports like swimming, soccer, baseball and mountain biking.
He got into competitive skiing at the age of 13, after trying to snowboard and breaking his arm in the process.
"After that, my parents decided they would give me a pair of skis at Christmas, and I went right back to skiing after that," said Perrin. "When I was 14, I started the race program at Cypress and progressed from there."
Once he made the B.C. Ski Team and Vancouver had been awarded the Paralympics, his goal became more of a realization, he said.
To race, Perrin has a prosthetic below his knee on both his feet. The prosthetic works like a carbon fibre socket, explained Perrin. It fits into his boots to allow him to flex his foot "forward and backward similar to that of an able-bodied person, although not quite as swell probably."
Perrin also uses poles that are specifically designed to fit over the ends of each of his arms.
Over the past three years, Perrin's main focus has been ski racing. The Vancouver-native moved to Whistler to increase his training.
And whenever he leaves the start gate and whips down the mountain in his self-described "fast, smooth and often on the verge of out of control" style, he always gives it his best with a positive attitude.
"He is a man of few word but his presence is always a huge part of the team," said Brianne Law, one of his four para-alpine coaches with Alpine Canada. "He definitely adds his personality to the team."
Perrin's strongest events are the downhill and super G, said Law. She added that he is a hard worker and extremely dedicated to his training.
"Not only in the last few weeks, but also in the last few years, Morgan has been committed to his training, both on and off the snow," said Law. "Physically, he is in great shape and is ready to compete at his best."
He hopes his long hours of training will pay off over the next week, when he competes in a total of four standing alpine races: the giant slalom on March 17, the downhill on March 18, the super G on March 20 and the super combined on March 21.
Among his accomplishments to date, Perrin finished 11 th in the International Paralympic Committee World Cup downhill race in Italy for his best results of the 2008-09 season.
He also finished 11 th in the downhill at the International Paralympic Committee World Championships in Korea. He is ranked 27 th overall in the World Cup rankings.