Para-snowboarders earn trip to Sochi after Big White event
Big White was the site of dreams being realized for three Canadian athletes.
Based partly on their performances at a qualifying competition last weekend at Big White, John Leslie Tyler Mosher and Ian Lockey have been named to the national para-snowboarding team for the 2014 Paralympic Games in Russia.
Big White has served this season as the official training centre of the Canadian para-snowboard team.
In Sochi, Mosher (Whistler), Lockey (Trail) and Leslie (Arnprior, Ont.) will be part of history as the sport of para-snowboarding makes its Games debut.
Leslie reached the podium at Big White on Sunday, finishing third behind a pair of American riders.
"It felt unreal to come home and get a bronze medal at home,’’ said Leslie who has worn a prosthetic leg since being treated for cancer at age 10. "It was great to see everyone riding at the best of their abilities. The crew at Big White really stepped it up from the course staff to the admin. They all came together and put on a great event for us.’’
“We’ve got a mix of older veterans who are bringing a wealth of experience to the team and a younger athlete as well, who brings great youthful enthusiasm,” said head coach of the Canadian para-snowboard team, Candice Drouin. “We are really looking forward to going back to Sochi. We had a great test event there last season. Our athletes are excited to showcase the sport and their skills to the world and it’s a great opportunity for para-athletes to build awareness so more people with a disability can learn about taking part in our sport.”
Michael Shea and Evan Cross of the U.S. were 1-2 in Sunday’s snowboard cross clocking 2:28.92 and 2:30.23. The two best times of three runs determined the final time. Leslie followed in 2:33.74 for his second career World Cup medal. He won his first last week in Colorado. Lockey was seventh.
On Saturday in soft snow conditions, it was an American sweep with Shea first, Keith Gabel second and Strong third. Leslie took fifth, Mosher sixth and Lockey 10th.