Few can imagine what it would be like to win a gold medal at the Olympics, let alone in the Paralympics as a bilateral amputee.
But for Tyler Turner, a Paralympic snowboard cross athlete, he now knows the feeling. The athlete hailing from Campbell River managed to take home the gold medal in snowboard cross along with a bronze medal in banked slalom.
Remembering the feeling is vivid for Turner, as he had pulled out a large lead in the final.
“In turn four I got a little peek back and I saw that I was quite a ways out front,” remembered Turner. “Which is probably the worst thing I could have done, my knees went jello immediately and I kind of had a full panic attack for the remainder of the course.”
Despite the terror, he was able to pull it together and crossed the finish line in first place.
While normally immediate celebrations would follow, he had to practice for the banked slalom a few days later.
The road to the medals has been a long one for Turner, after a skydiving accident five years ago that left him a bilateral amputee.
“I was attempting to progress my skills and I had a low turn and hit the ground going extremely fast,” he said. “So I ended up with a traumatic brain injury, back injury, shattered my pelvis into numerous pieces and both my feet as well.”
A year and a half later, he had both his feet amputated.
The concern of whether he would be able to ride again was difficult to overcome. But with snowboarding being his life, he wanted to get back on the board.
The experience motivated him to try and compete in the Olympics.
“Once I got on a snowboard and I was riding at a decent level I thought ‘oh man this might be possible’,” he said. “I was able to go out to one of their [Paralympic team’s] camps and just watched what they do and how they do it and I hopped in there pretty quick.”
The two years of training, fitness and provision of specific prosthetics helped him reach his goal.
He thanks supporters and everyone who helped him along the way. He plans to take some time surfing in Costa Rica after the historic moment.