A&E » Arts

Grudge Match 2010



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What drove him the most was the goal that he would be on the hill in a year. No, not up and down for a token sightseeing gondola ride, but on the hill strapped into a pair of skis. He kept it in his sights despite the patronizing smiles he got from those uninitiated to the capabilities of the true Whistlerite.

And wouldn’t you know, he pulled it off. Came in three weeks under the deadline, in fact.

Partial quadriplegia. One year short of three weeks. Skiing.

Of course he didn’t come in at the same cornice-dropping level.

"The first day was really brutal," he admits. "There was a lot of falling, slapping myself around, but I kept trying for the next three years."

But the rules had changed from his pre-crash days. Practice no longer made perfect since the muscles were no longer fully under his control.

"It wasn’t working," he says. "I was up there one day and I started to realize that I was starting to not like skiing anymore. I didn’t want to go up on the hill. It was a chore. So that’s when I decided to change things."

A loyalty to his two plank passion had initially convinced him that he wouldn’t enjoy sit-skiing, but Crutchfield changed his tune, deciding that if he ever wanted to experience the same speed, the same skill, the same thrill, he would have to change the equipment.

It was either that or give up skiing forever.

So there was only one choice.

And it proved to be a great choice. Through the Whistler Adaptive Ski Program, Crutchfield was introduced to sit-skiing and has since pursued it with innate fervour.

And like any true Whistlerite undaunted by injury, he’s vowed to take things to the next level. There are six more seasons until Vancouver and Whistler host the world for the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games and Crutchfield intends to be there.

Step one, however, is acquiring top of the line gear suitable for a contender. He’ll have to acquire what’s known in the industry as a "mono-ski," which comes in at about $5,000, give or take.

And that’s where the comedy comes in.

Although Crutchfield is undeniably a Whistler local at his core, and visits several times a month to train with the Whistler Adaptive Ski Program, he is currently residing in Vancouver, describing his occupation as "self-unemployed" writer. There’s a book and a buzz-generating TV script in the works.