Haywood Report: Dreams Come True
By Tyler Mosher
Read the full story here.
I never dreamed of this growing up.
It is becoming so real.
To think, seven years ago I was never supposed to walk again after falling 10 metres onto my head into a buttress while traversing Blackcomb glacier on my snowboard. It was surreal. All of a sudden I am flipped upside down, ground I assumed was there wasn’t and I am looking at rocks and corn snow coming towards me in slow motion. I actually thought to myself, “Uh-Oh… This might be it?” Well, it was. It was the end of a lot of things and the beginning of many others. That day I was paralyzed from the waist down.
The fact I was wearing a helmet is why I am alive today to tell my story. That helmet in conjunction with my muscular build, combined luck, medical expertise, hard work, physiotherapy, love and friendship are the reasons why I can walk today. Although I am still about 40% paralyzed below the waist, I was determined to put it all together and learn how to make those muscles I have walk. That day was the end of a lot of my life as I knew it and I rarely look back. That day, was also the beginning of a new life, as I know it now.
Everything was so new again. Filled with fear and determination I walked out of the Spinal Chord Rehab Centre in Vancouver and into my new life. The following winter was depressing. I could barely walk in the snow. Imagine, walking everywhere on your heels, now you see what I mean. My choices were limited. Leave Whistler, or figure out how to enjoy the snow. That winter was the first time I stood on cross country skis. The following winter, I bought a pair so could walk my dog in the snow. That spring I met Coach Kaspar Wirz and Brian McKeever. I wondered what it would be like to compete as a cross country skier and what I would need to do to be competitive. I was told to ski 850km and then give Kaspar a call. If only I knew what road I was about to travel down.
Two months later Whistler and Vancouver were awarded the privilege to host the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. That December I got a call from Todd Alison, at that time with Pacific Sport, presenting me with a unique opportunity. He said Canada is hosting an IPC Nordic World Cup in Orford, QC in February and I should be involved one way or another, either as an athlete or learn about hosting the event or something – the Paralympics are coming to town and we hear that you have taken up cross country skiing. I didn’t even think about it, I said that I was an athlete before and I would love to be one again. I started training the next day.
To think, two years from now I will be at the Paralympics in my home town. I was there skiing in the sun at the Callaghan Valley just last week while the Alpine World Cup and Olympic fever were raging in Whistler. Today as I write this, I am in Norway competing at the IPC Nordic World Cup Finals. In four short years I have learned to cross-country ski. I am one of the top ranked disabled snowboarders in the world too. My Landscape Design and Installation Business is doing well. It is almost surreal. Yet, what is real, is cross country skiing is one of the hardest things I have ever set out to do in my life. The challenge is rewarded by fitness, accessibility to winter wilderness wonderland and the sheer excitement of beating the odds. True, I will never be quite the skier as Brian McKeever, whose accomplishments make my jaw drop on a regular basis, but I believe I will compete in the 2010 Paralympics in Cross Country Skiing. It is a long road I didn’t expect to take. In fact, I’ve spent more time and money trying to accomplish this dream over the past four years, then I did on my professional degree in Environmental Planning and I have two more years to go before I get there. I will be there, competing in 2010.
This is now my dream!
I sincerely want to thank all those involved in my success. The people at Cross Country Canada who believe in me, their corporate sponsors who help us do what we need to do in order to succeed, Own the Podium, Cross Country BC, Pacific Sport, Whistler Adaptive Sports Program, the whole community of Whistler and my Rotary Club, Stussi Sports of Vernon, Cross Country Connection Whistler, Wild Willies, Whistler Nordics Club, Alpina Boots, Excel Poles and Fischer Skis. I want to thank Colette Bourgonje and Brian McKeever for their inspiration, Robin McKeever for his Technical Coaching, Celine Feagan, Bruce Johnson, Ian Daffern, Dr. Zeglinski, Chris Wilberg and the rest of my team who make me a better skier and a better person. Most important, I thank Mr. Kaspar Wirz. If it weren’t for Kaspar, I wouldn’t be cross-country skiing and ski racing. If it weren’t for him I wouldn’t be as healthy and happy as I am today. Thank you Coach!
Thank you all for being part of my Dream!