By Greg Amos, Pioneer Staff
Editors note: Leading up to the International Paralympic Committees Alpine Skiing World Cup being held at Panorama Mountain Village from January 8th to 14th, this is the first of a three-part series on Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team (CPAST) athletes.
For Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team (CPAST) prospect team member Kurt Oatway, a 12-metre fall off a rock outcrop in 2007 might be the precursor to a rise onto an Olympic Podium.
Coming off a strong results at NorAm Cup races held at Colorados Copper Mountain Resort in mid-December, the 29-year-old Calgary-based sit skier was able to lower his points enough to qualify to compete in three of the five skiing disciplines.
Im trying to focus on getting better slowly, not trying to throw everything out there in these first couple of races and have nothing left at the end of the season, said Kurt, who will likely be named to Canadas Paralympic team next month. With the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics beckoning, Kurts focusing on lowering his point totals as much as possible between now and then. With Sochi being in a mid-latitude region of Russia, the snow is going to be very soft when we get there, he said. The better bib start you have, the better your chances of running on a course thats going to be in as good shape as possible.
The upcoming Alpine Skiing World Cup being held at Panorama Mountain Village from January 8th to 14th is another opportunity to better his chances at Sochi.
Pretty much everyone whos going to be at the Olympics will be at Panorama, said Kurt, whos going for a top seven finish in Russia.
After suffering a compression fracture of his T12 vertebrae after a fall while on a geology field trip in Utah, Kurt recuperated to the point where he can walk short distances with crutches, but relies on a wheelchair to cover longer distances. He drew on his youth ski racing experience to get into sit skiing, training with Alpine Saskatchewan team after the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver.
Your centre of gravity is definitely different, but there are things that translate between the two, he said. The separation between your upper and lower body is very similar. Ideally, you want your upper body to be as static as possible, and just have your lower body moving underneath you.
Kurt credits his CPAST teammates with helping him improve to the point where he can compete at a world-class level.
They definitely keep me on my toes and push me to go a little further each day, he said. The CPAST team has been a big help as far as progressing to an elite level, but if it wasnt for getting in on the ground floor with Alpine Saskatchewan, I wouldnt have even had the chance to get to where I am now.