Danniels, Mosher pick up World Cup medals

Two more wins for X Games champ; Mosher still hopeful for Sochi
Whistler Question

Tyler Whistler Question
Tyler Mosher races to a third-place finish at the Para-Snowboard Cross World Cup final, and first place in the Canadian Nationals, on April 3 at Nakiska, Alta. Photo by Jacapo Piccardi

After winning a surprise gold medal at the Winter X Games earlier this year, Whistler’s Sam Danniels said he wasn’t sure if he’d race again this season. Good thing he did.

Danniels won double gold in the men’s sitting category at the World Snowboard Federation’s (WSF) Para-Snowboard Cross World Cup held April 2 and 3 at Nakiska, while fellow local Tyler Mosher had a podium finish of his own in the men’s standing discipline.

“It seemed to work out in my favour, didn’t it?” laughed Danniels. “It’s been a pretty successful season.”

This year’s Mono Skier X champ at the X Games said one of the big reasons he was drawn to Nakiska was to participate in discussions about the future of the sport under the WSF umbrella. Winning back-to-back races against a strong field that included World Cup season champ Ravi Drugan of the U.S. was a bonus.

“The course was pretty different from anything I’ve ever done,” said Danniels, a Whistler Adaptive Sports Program race coach who is paralyzed from the armpits down. “It was a really fast tempo on a pretty steep slope so it was kind of scary at inspection, but it ran really well so it was a lot of fun.”

Given the success he’s found racing this year, Danniels said he hasn’t decided if he’ll take on more alpine events next year after “taking a proper break from it” this winter.

“I’m confident that will change next year, that I’ll get back into doing some alpine events,” he said. “But I haven’t yet made a decision as to how many or how far I’ll travel to go to them.

“It was nice to spend more time in Whistler this year and that was one of the goals for this winter.”

Mosher was the top Canadian in the men’s standing races both days with his third- and fifth-place results in an event that was run in conjunction with the national championships.

The 40-year-old said he trained specifically to defend his world championship title this year but fell short. With that in mind, Mosher said he was pleased to have a strong finish to the year on a Nakiska course that wasn’t suited well to his disability.

“It’s been pretty devastating to have what I trained for right in my hands and lose, but on the other hand, it was great to go out and have another World Cup and finish the season on a high note,” said Mosher, who has limited mobility below the waist from a fall on Blackcomb 12 years ago.

Mosher was sixth at this year’s WSF Para-Snowboard Cross World Championships at Orcieres 1850, France — the first time they were held since Mosher won in 2009. He held a one-second lead after the first of two days but overshot the second-to-last jump on the course and wiped out in the flats on Day 2.

Although the result wasn’t what he hoped for, Mosher said it was nice to have a world championship to focus on after learning in October that Sochi’s organizing committee decided not to include para-snowboard in the 2014 Paralympics.

Mosher is hopeful Sochi will reconsider its decision to leave the sport out of the Games, as he said the International Paralympic Committee has been backing the sport’s inclusion.

While it’s likely that South Korea will host para-snowboard for the 2018 Games, Mosher said it would be “unrealistic” for him to plan to compete there.

“My job is done. My focus is to be an ambassador of the sport and promote it, and continue on showcasing people’s abilities not only in snowboarding (but) all aspects of life,” said Mosher, who competed in para-Nordic skiing for Canada in the 2010 Paralympics.

“If Russia does rescind its decision and decide to include snowboarding… then I will train for 2014,” he continued. “I just haven’t given up on it yet and I think it’s still plausible.”