Adaptive Snowboarding eyes Paralympics

Ten countries gather in Whistler to discuss the future of the sport


(Whistler, BC – March 22, 2010) Representatives from sport organizations in ten countries met on Friday evening to discuss the future of adaptive snowboarding and its potential addition to the program of the Paralympic Winter Games. The reception, which was hosted by Canada~Snowboard at the Nita Lake Lodge in Whistler, B.C., was held to promote and increase awareness for the sport of adaptive snowboarding and to identify steps which needed to be undertaken to gain Paralympic inclusion.

“The reception exceeded our expectations. There was a lot of positive interest, good questions, and comments from the different nations,” said Tom McIllfaterick, Chief Executive Officer of Canada~Snowboard.

Canada~Snowboard has led the development of adaptive snowboarding over the past five years, working to expand the sport both domestically and internationally. McIllfaterick and other Canada~Snowboard officials made a short presentation during the reception, providing information on adaptive snowboarding that touched on areas of coaching, classification, events, international development, and objectives and directions for upcoming years. Guests then had the remainder of the evening to connect and discuss the future of the sport.

Mike Fisher and Tyler Mosher, two of Canada’s Adaptive Snowboard National Team athletes, were also in attendance at the reception. A dual sport athlete, Tyler, competed in the just-concluded Paralympic Winter Games in para-nordic skiing. He is also the current World Champion in adaptive snowboarding.

Canada, one of the leaders in the sport, hosted the first ever Adaptive Snowboarding World Cup in Whistler in 2008. Other countries currently involved in the sport include the United States, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Australia, but participants in the discussion acknowledged that involvement will have to expand to more countries for inclusion in the Paralympic Games program to be achieved.

“There are a number of steps Canada~Snowboard is taking to include adaptive snowboarding in the Paralympics. We will continue to host World Cup events like the one coming up in Mont-Tremblant and continue to work with other countries around the world to build capacity for the sport. We will also refine the sport’s rules and procedures so that they fully meet the standards of the International Paralympic Committee,” added McIllfaterick. “We believe that it is possible for Adaptive Snowboarding to appear at the Paralympic Winter Games as early as 2014.”

The Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver have propelled the movement for adaptive snowboarding’s inclusion. Zack Beaumont, a fifteen year old adaptive snowboarder from the Vancouver area, had a feature role in the opening ceremonies by lighting the Paralympic Cauldron. The legacy of the 2010 Paralympics includes both increased passion in young athletes like Zack, who dreams of one day competing in his sport at the Paralympic Games, and new resources that will help athletes achieve their goals.

The Whistler Athletes’ Centre, set to open in June 2010 is part of this legacy. The Centre will cater to high performance and development sport groups with strength and conditioning resources and accommodations. The building is fully accessible and will include features such as accessible washrooms, showers, and an elevator to access the upper floor.

“The Whistler Adaptive Sports Program is really excited to be working with Canada~Snowboard on the development of adaptive snowboarding,” said Chelsey Walker, Executive Director of the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program that will have headquarters in the new centre. “The Whistler Athletes’ Centre, and our presence within it, the inclusion of enhanced adaptive sport training opportunities, including those for snowboarding, will have a significant impact on the future development of Paralympic Sport.”

What’s next?
The World’s best adaptive riders will converge on Mont-Tremblant, QC, on April 2nd as Canada hosts the World Snowboard Federation 2010 Adaptive Snowboard World Cup.
About Adaptive Snowboarding
Adaptive snowboarding refers to a modified version of the sport, with changes in equipment, rules, and technical specifications that enable persons with physical disabilities to participate in both recreational and competitive activities.

Adaptive snowboard events are held for male and female athletes with physical disabilities such as spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, amputation, or visual impairments. Athletes compete based on their functional ability, allowing athletes with different disabilities to compete against each other.

The Canadian Adaptive Snowboard Program consists of athlete development camps, adaptive snowboarding competitions, training opportunities for coaches, and training materials for coaches and officials. Canada~Snowboard also manages the world’s first Adaptive Snowboarding National Team.

For more info on the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program and Whistler Athlete’s Centre visit .