Skiing for Sochi: Adaptive Snow Sports

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Skiing for Sochi: Adaptive Snow Sports

(narrator) 120 km an hour and no brakes Just the way Corey Peters likes it (Corey) The speed, it just gives you a huge amount of adrenaline (narrator) Corey is the new Kiwi boy on the starting blocks at Sochi It’s nearly 4 years since he had the motorcycle accident that left him permanently disabled I’m putting all my time and effort pursuing this goal of mine of becoming the best mono-skier in the world (narrator) But having skied only 100 runs, he headed to the northern winter to train Not knowing if he was fast enough, but determined to give it all he had (Announcer) Welcome to Alpine Resort on Tuesday 24th of September Cardrona is open today (narrator) two years ago, Corey rented out his house in New Plymouth to head off to Wanaka to train (Corey) I love waking up in the morning And even though it is early and cold, waking up and going to training every day, it gives you a focus And, you know, I’ve got goals set that I want to try to achieve within the next six years The big goal for me is to participate in the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia And then, following that, the big goal is to bring home a medal in 2018 (narrator) He’s only been training for the Paralympics for 3 years (Corey) It doesn’t come without sacrifice, really I think in a way, you’ve got to be a little bit selfish You’re leaving all your friends and family behind to go travel halfway around the world to ski-race, basically I guess it’s a little bit out of my comfort zone but it’s about me, pursuing this goal of mine (narrator) Corey’s a paraplegic A result of a motocross accident 4 years ago Corey has some function below his injury He can walk small distances with crutches, but spends 90 percent of his time in a wheelchair (Corey) My spinal cord wasn’t completely severed or completely damaged, so I still have the function of having my core, my arms and hand function, and things like that (narrator) He was introduced to the sport at an expo in Taranaki As soon as he could, he was off to Wanaka for an Adaptive Snowsports “Have-a-go” day (Corey) The first few times being on the mountain there was a lot of falling over going on Just trying to come to grips with the balance and the coordination of it all, I guess Within three days, I was coming down the mountain solo Well, basically we start off with the mono-ski, which is something just like a bucket that we sit in, and it’s got an element in frame with a shock to absorb all the bumps as we come down the mountain We use these outriggers for, basically, balance And they have a small ski on the bottom As you can see, this is what we call a “brake” They’re compulsory when you’re racing, in case you crash It’s to help slow you down (Corey) So much of our day-to-day stuff, as a wheelchair user comes with a lot of challenges and restrictions, but sit-skiing sort of gives you that freedom to be able to get out of your chair, go up on the mountain with your mates, and basically ski Anywhere they can go, I can follow And, yeah, it’s just complete independence ♪ (music) ♪ Before my accident, I was really outgoing, into any sport I could get my hands into My main sports were probably, in my early days, rugby, and then that changed to surfing and motocross The morning of the race, we drove from Taranaki up to Taupo

I didn’t really know the track, so we had a couple of warm-up laps before my race And then, when it came to race time, it was just on Just went too fast over a jump That’s where I was instantly paralyzed on landing The first 12 months were my darkest days, really Just trying to come to terms with such a serious injury, and just trying to adjust to a new life Yeah, it was certainly the most challenging time of my life There’s a lot of different steps of acceptance and grief, and there’s different phases that you go through, but I think eventually you come out the other end, and finding a sport was really critical for me, really To pick yourself back up and get back on with life, really (narrator) On the mountain, Adaptive Snowsports New Zealand could see Corey’s potential (Corey) To have those guys notice a bit of talent in me, that sort of gave me quite a bit of confidence back And it’s just good that people can see the best in you, no matter what your circumstances are (narrator) Then he met with Scott Olson, coach of gold medalist Adam Hall Scott planted the seed for an attempt to qualify for Sochi (Corey) He basically said to me, “There’s an organization in Colorado, called The National Sports Center for the Disabled” He basically just asked if I’d like to come over and I jumped at the chance, And within a couple of months, basically, I was flying out to America So, good morning Mr. Peters! Today’s focus: we’re going to work on level shoulders, moving the body down the hill, and a good tactical line – Ok? – Sounds good – Sounds good? – Yep – Get out there, let’s go! Let’s get into it! Corey took to mono-skiing like a fish to water Corey was racing SCOTT OLSON COACH Within a couple of weeks he was participating in a race at Mount Hutt We recognized raw talent right there The drive, the enthusiasm, the excitement that Corey had within him And within 3 to 4 weeks he was keeping up with everybody else on the hill (narrator) Corey’s experience of motocross has helped him get to grips with the requirements of a sit-ski (Corey) There’s a lot of similarities between motocross and mono-skiing Firstly, you’ve got a shock under you to absorb bumps and terrain In terms of race line, there’s some similarities there, where you want to come into corners with good body position and balance, Just try and rail those turns as best as you can (narrator) For the past two seasons in Colorado, Corey has flatted with Adam Hall Sometimes free skiing is a lot more important than training in gates because you want to be able to incorporate what you do in the gates in free-skiing and vice versa He’s really professional about his sport and gives it 110 percent So, in a way it’s kind of cool, because it rubs off on me (Scott) Corey is always looking for that next little box to tick off Whether it’s the skis, the mono-ski, using the technology for aerodynamics, Corey is always looking for a little more edge (Corey) As you’re coming down the hill, you want the right compression and rebound to absorb all the bumps and to not throw you back up, which could cause you to crash For aerodynamics, we wear the speed suits And also there’s a leg cover, that’s been designed and made for me So, basically you want to be as light as possible, so you can throw the ski around, you know, really easily

(narrator) As the sun goes down, it’s no time for rest Corey and Adam head off to their Pilates session Let’s draw your legs up to that table top position (narrator) Mara Pacyga is a leading Pilates instructor for athletes with a disability Inhale, exhale, tap the feet down now, Corey Tap down! And don’t let anything change in the upper body Inhale (Mara) Mono-skiers are using their shoulders [Mara Pacyga Pilates Instructor] for so much of their control through the ski with their core, and if you think about, especially with Alpine skiers, how fast they’re moving downhill, and when mono-skiers crash, the weight of the ski, the weight of the person, is a lot of force to tumble down the hill And so, we see a tremendous amount of shoulder injuries in the mono-skier population Curl it down, keep your breath flowing, big inhale and big exhale Head doesn’t go yet! Yes! And then keep it going Head’s the very last big vertebrae to come all the way down (Corey) Over the last couple of years of me skiing, it’s just– I’ve been learning how to become an athlete, and how to train, and what to eat What to work in the gym It’s just been a huge learning curve and it’s just started to all come together (narrator) The World Championships in La Molina, Spain will be Corey’s first chance to impress on the world stage Good results also mean an increase in funding (Corey) There are expectations on me to perform in order for me to get the funding from Snowsports New Zealand I try not to put too much stress on myself, mentally, but, I mean, physically I want to be able to push myself as far as I can (Scott) There are very few people that could even make this transition in a two-year period To be able to go from never skiing to a World Cup level racer, and Corey is going to do it He will do that this year Mark my words! (narrator) February 2013 Corey’s traveled halfway around the world to one of Spain’s oldest ski resorts: La Molina, on the French border With 120 athletes, the World Championships is the biggest event outside the Winter Paralympics All the top skiers are here (Cory) This is my first World Champs, so it’s a little bit daunting, but it’s going to be good for the experience, and hopefully I can take something out of it Yeah, basically the World Champs is just the next step down from the Paralympics So I’ll skip Europa Cup and World Cups and go on to the top, you know? These guys are basically the best in the world (narrator) To qualify for Sochi, Corey needs to attend events like this Each time he races, he gathers points The better the result, the more points The more points, the better his world ranking Most of all, he needs to prove that he can finish in the top six Snowsports New Zealand team manager Jon Turnbull has realistic expectations on where Corey needs to finish Corey’s been skiing for two years maximum So, when we say we’re trying to fast-track talent we are doing exactly that Hopefully Sochi is a reality for Corey to get there and qualify, and, you know, our selection criteria means that we take pretty competitive people So, if he reaches those criteria to get to Sochi, then he’s well on his way to medaling in Korea (narrator) Corey’s tuning his skis and there’s a science to it The conditions on the mountain are crucial to how he sets them up As you can see, the waxes here are different colors, and that’s just for the different temperatures of the snow So, at the moment, I think that we’ve taken temps of the snow and it’s around -5 to -8 So, the purple suits that temperature really well (narrator) Corey funds the majority of the campaign himself, and even the wax is not cheap These three blocks here cost me 170 NZD, which might last you, I don’t know, three or four weeks, maybe

(inaudible announcement) Go on! (narrator) Each new mountain brings a new challenge, and a risk At speeds of 120 km/h, there’s a lot at stake, not just medals (Corey) Probably there’s a lot of people out there who would say, “Why would you want to do a sport that’s got just as much risks, if not more, than motocross?” When I’m on the racecourse, I don’t think I really think back to that motocross race I kinda just take the new mountain, or the new race I just take it as it is, really Go! (announcer) And here is on the snow, Corey Peters finishing in 22nd position 1 minute 18 seconds point 95 The course is fast It was pretty slick out there I think I did pretty well on that top section I was only just over a second out Basically, you’ve got to get into the tuck, and get your outriggers out Just try and break that wind and just get as aerodynamic as possible, which I thought I did pretty well But, yeah, just a couple of mistakes on my line, on this bottom section Probably gave it away a little bit, but all in all, pretty stoked with my first CBG World Cup (narrator) All the top skiers were on fire But Corey pulled it back the next day WANAKA Welcome (narrator) Back home, Corey has seen where the top guys are at It’s renewed his drive and focus towards qualifying for Sochi (Corey) It’s sort of made me realize where I need to be, and where I want to be I’m really focused on becoming the best skier I can, and competing with those guys, and I guess that comes down to putting in the hard yards in the gym And I’ve got a good support team behind me, working on a lot of functional stuff to make me a better skier So, this exercise, it’s really functional for what I do as a sit-skier Having a strong core is crucial, you know, to have good balance and stability on your ski I mean, the speeds we get up to on a racecourse can be up to about 120 km/h Coming through a turn at that speed, there’s a lot of forces going on You really need to be strong to enable you to come through the turn nicely without, you know, crashing So what’s your thoughts? It looks like I’m pressuring a little bit late (narrator) Always trying to find that next little advantage, Corey’s enlisted the help of Ben Adams as his video analyst to critique his technique and race tactics If you look at, especially the turns, to the left here, but then look at the set-up If we could get the shoulders a little bit more level You can see the whole body’s inclined in Basically it’s causing you to come around, sort of around this area, where you could probably be coming off a little bit closer up by the gate With Corey right now, we are working on technique and tactics Tactics into the race line How fast he can come into a corner, how fast he can go out of a corner Where he needs to pressure to the ski And Corey is a fast study, he’s learning Every day he’s learning something new and progressing ♪ (music) ♪ (narrator) It’s the 2013 Wanaka Winter Games A World Cup event with a full schedule of Olympic and Paralympic events It’s Corey’s chance to see how far he’s come in the last 6 months

since the World Championship The typically icy conditions are going to make racing treacherous Well, Coronet’s generally renowned for being quite hard They don’t call it Concrete Peak for nothing! But, unseasonal warm weather is probably going to make the snow quite soft The last week, we’ve been training in really soft stuff up at Cardrona there So, potentially, yeah, it should go well as long as I just do what I’ve been doing in training five to ten centimeters of firm, hard stuff that’s soft underneath – Like this? – Yeah The progression of Corey has been one of trust Going through course inspection, picking out a line, Going over tactics with him, and having him trust that if he gets the right line, if he uses the right tactic, that the speed will be there for him Where in the past Corey has just looked to go straight down the hill and go fast, and the tactics have lacked This time, Corey has matured so much Go! Yeah, I believe if you’re not nervous before a race, there’s definitely something wrong You know, pre-race nerves are quite normal Go! (commentator) And on course! Corey Peters from New Zealand 30 years old, Corey was tenth in the giant slalom at the World Championships in Molina, in Spain And he’s certainly a handy slalom skier, as well Now, second is good, he’d love first! He’ll have to set the marker down with only one skier to go But this is a charge Great run and a nice finish! [Cheering and applause] (narrator) Corey’s nailed it at second place The result pushes his world ranking into the top 20s He’s qualified for Sochi We’ve been working hard with the training and things like that, and it’s good to see some of those good techniques coming out in the racing, and just growing in confidence, really Second place, from New Zealand, Corey Peters! [Cheering and applause] (Corey) I’ve come a long way in the last twelve months I think that comes down to goal setting, working hard and some of the coaches, their information and knowledge that they’ve given me I want to be one of the best in the world First World Cup race, and to get a podium is yeah, it’s unheard of, probably Yeah, I’m pretty stoked with that Hopefully it’s one of many! I like the whole build-up for an event The adrenaline and the nerves, just the excitement around competing (narrator) Carl Murphy is ranked number 1 in the world at para-snowboard cross Everything seems to be getting bigger and faster And that’s what the spectators want to see So as an athlete, you just have to roll with it or retire! (narrator) The 34 year-old’s been competing for six years Sochi will be his first Paralympic Games Since this is the debut for snowboarding, CARL MURPHY It’s sort of my one and only shot at it, because I’m not, you know, a spring chicken any more So, we’re targeting for the gold medal, so we’ll see what happens (narrator) Carl was born with a congenital defect in his right foot He’s always used a prosthetic leg to walk and race This is my snowboarding foot, and it’s custom-made for snowboarding And it’s got a built-in shock, which helps with dorsiflexion, which is bringing your knee over your toes And I can adjust the pressure in the shock by adding more air or less air depending on the type of running I’m doing I’m actually the only one in the world riding a foot like this (announcer) Attention! (narrator) Boardercross is raced on a track much like a BMX track Each race has four riders It’s an elimination event, until a winner is found (Carl) We race on able-body courses We’re doing the same as them Everyone in the para-snowboard circuits is really pushing himself and pushing his body to the limit (narrator) Carl’s New Zealand training base is Wanaka,

where he lives with his wife, Aleisha, and son, Oliver The Paralympics for Carl is everything It’s just been what he breathes, eats I’m sure he dreams about it in his sleep Y’know, we’ve had things up on the wall about winning medals It’s been everywhere So, our conversations, they used to be around Oliver Now they’re around the Paralympics. (laughs) That’s our life! (Carl) Snowboarding takes me away, traveling quite a bit And it was tough when it was just me and Aleisha, and now we’ve got little Oliver here, it’s even tougher With the Paralympics, there’s a lot more demand for me to do more travel and more training overseas (narrator) He’s spent most of summer away from the family again, this time in Frisco, Colorado It’s a world-class training venue for boardercross athletes from around the world Carl’s build-up to the games has been smooth until this (Carl) I jumped too far and missed the landing, landed in the flat snow So, basically like jumping out of a two-story building onto concrete As soon as I landed it was quite a big compression, and it wasn’t super-painful, I just felt a pain in my knee And just sort of pulled off to the side and just gave it 5 or 10 minutes to see if it was just a knock And after that it was pretty obvious that there was some sort of damage to my knee (narrator) Back in New Zealand, the news from the specialist is not good Yeah, so you can see, right there you can see the split there It’s not going to heal in the first three weeks What we want to make sure it hasn’t displaced at all So, that’s the key thing These things can take a variable pattern, or time to come right The plan now is, obviously, just keep an eye on my leg Got a re-scan in a couple of weeks’ time And, I guess it’s just playing it week by week until the surgeon and my physios are happy for me to get back into training It’s just frustrating, not being able to get back on my snowboard and do some of the build-up competitions that I would have liked to (narrator) Carl heads back to Wanaka He’s got a full rehab program for his knee, and he has to keep race-fit for the upcoming games (Carl) I spend about 3 hours a day in the gym, at the moment So, when I get back I’m as fit or fitter than I was when I left And I really want to get back on snow, but I’m also a little bit nervous about not getting back too early I just want to make sure the medical staff are happy The last thing I want to do is go back, aggravate my injury, and then maybe miss out on Sochi altogether (narrator) There’s one last scan to check on his progress (Carl) If they say another few weeks off we have to make a plan around how long we can wait before we get back on snow, because we can’t just keep waiting, and then start snowboarding a week before the games and expect to get a medal (narrator) But he’ll have to wait for the results to come through In the meantime, he’ll join the rest of the Kiwi team to prepare for the games (Carl) Over the last few years I’ve put so much energy and my time and money into, effectively, one race, because there’s no way I’m going to let anything get in the way of me racing in the Paralympics (narrator) He’s got just a few weeks to regain his fitness and form that made him world number 1