Since the Olympics started in Beijing last month, we’ve talked about a few VanIsle Olympians who have battled back.
There was Cassie Sharpe, who blew out her knee last year and came back to win silver in freestyle skiing at the Olympics.
There was Teal Harle, who came dead last in his first snowboarding run. Did he come back and win big in the end? Nope. But he still got back and crushed his next run.
Olympians fall down sometimes. They’re human, after all. But they get back up.
Now, we have Tyler Turner. This Campbell River snowboarding champ is also a skydiving instructor. And five years ago, a skydiving accident took both his legs below the knees.
Talk about falling down.
But five years later, Tyler Turner is out crushing the world’s Para snowboarding championships.
Was the journey easy?
He got depressed. He got addicted to painkillers. There’s a lot of trauma when you lose parts of your body. And even more when you feel like you’ve lost parts of yourself.
But Turner has always been an active guy. He loved surfing and skydiving. And snowboarding was his favourite.
“Snowboarding has always been my number one thing,” he told the Campbell River Mirror. “It was my job, my career, my passion, it’s been everything for me.”
He didn’t always think he could get back to the sport.
“I didn’t think I was going to be able to snowboard,” he said.
“So I thought if I was going to be going to the Paralympics, it would have to be in a wheelchair and wheelchair sports, which I really enjoyed and were really fun, but it wasn’t snowboarding.”
It turns out getting back into snowboarding wasn’t as hard as he thought it would be.
“Once I was able to learn how to be an active amputee and manage the adversity that comes with that… the snowboarding part I know what to do. I’ve done it my whole life. I just had to adapt it a little bit,” he said.
It’s been three years since he got back on the board. He won first World Championships gold in the men’s snowboard cross in Norway last year.
He also won Canada’s first gold medal of the World Para Snow Sports Championships back in January.
Now he’s got his eye on Paralympic gold. And he’s going with support from Kindred Custom Snowboards and Skis.
Kindred has been making Turner’s boards. It takes a special kind of team to build a board for someone with no feet. And they replace his boards when he shreds so hard he breaks them.
Turner might not always be a professional snowboarder. He told Canada Snowboard that he might become a helicopter pilot. Or maybe he’ll mow the lawn at a golf course.
But he’ll always want to be out on the snow.
“Because it’s my favourite thing on earth.”