Phil Chew is an icon in the
world of alpine skiing. He began skiing seriously in 1977 at age 25 after
losing his leg to an aggressive form of cancer, and even at age 38 he was ranked
second in the world. He is a three-time Paralympian, five-time Canadian
Champion, a U.S. Champion in downhill skiing, and a winner of the combined at
the European championship level.
Today he is the coach of the
B.C. Disabled Ski Team and is working both on the front lines and behind the
scenes to make the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games successful for B.C.
athletes and Whistler, which he calls home and where he is raising his family.
Today, front and centre for Chew
is getting sponsorship for the team to make sure athletes get to the Nor Am
races that are vital to their development.
But three years from now
Whistler will be in the midst of hosting the Paralympic Games so
sat down with Chew in his Creekside
home to learn more about the athlete, and his hopes for the Games.
How did you first get involved with
I was diagnosed with cancer and lost my leg. I did a year of chemotherapy — and
it’s interesting because while I was doing that chemo I met Terry Fox and I got
to know him in the cancer clinic. There must be something in the water out west
here when you think of what Terry accomplished, then there’s Rick Hansen, Steve
Fonyo and even me. I learned to ski right after I finished my chemotherapy
through the B.C. Disabled Ski Team.
didn’t know how to ski, but I was athletic.
thing is there was an 80 per cent fatality rate with the type of bone cancer
that I had so I wasn’t very optimistic about my future. So everything became
about skiing to me, because it was exciting and it was one thing that made me
feel equal. I needed something to be equal. I wasn’t playing soccer anymore or
jogging like I used to so this was a sport that I could take on to (help) make