After realizing a seven-year dream of competing for Canada at the Paralympics in Nordic skiing, Whistler's Tyler Mosher is refocusing his energies on the sport of snowboarding where he hopes to represent Canada once again.
This season, Mosher competed in a new test event at X Games where he finished second before heading to Orcieres, France where the World Snowboard Federation - with support from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for the first time - held a pair of World Cup events. Mosher finished second in both those races to Evan Strong from the U.S., the below-the-knee amputee who also won the X Games gold.
The format in France was slingshot, which is best described as a snowboardcross time trial. After two runs Mosher was 0.4 seconds back of Evans to place second in the first event. On day two it was even closer with just 0.06 seconds difference.
"I made a couple of little stupid mistakes, but that's racing," said Mosher. "The standard was pretty good, with a field that's comparable to what I've seen on the Nordic side over the years. There were nine or 10 countries in the race, and 22 good men."
As well as sanctioning the event, the IPC has also benchmarked adaptive snowboarding. IPC classifications are based on the athletes' level of ability, and determine what - if any - factor will be deducted from an athletes' time in order to level the playing field.
For example, a snowboard athlete missing a hand might get a slight time deduction because they are slower starting out of the gate, while an athlete with a lower limb injury may get a larger factor because of their ability to steer or pump on the track.
Slingshot has been picked as the default sport for adaptive snowboarding because it's timed, making it easier to factor athletes, as well as for the fact that it combines elements of both racing and freestyle snowboarding.
Next up for Mosher is a pair of World Cup events at Lake Louise from April 7 to 9. The IPC will decide in the spring whether to add snowboarding to the list of Paralympic events held at Sochi in 2014.
Parsons Super G races this weekend
This weekend marks the 31st running of the Bob Parsons Memorial and the 42nd season since Parsons created a juvenile speed race to give older skiers a chance to race downhill.
The format was changed to Super G recently, but the basic concept remains the same over four decades later - namely giving juvenile athletes under the age of 16 a safe and fun opportunity to race speed events and prepare themselves before speed events become a regular part of the competitive calendar.