Competitive adaptive snow-sports including snowmobiling and snowboarding has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past decade. For snowboarding, with the Paralympics as an end goal, the United States has helped to forge the way.
In 2005, Adaptive Action Sports (AAS) -- a nationally- recognized California nonprofit that creates “action sports” opportunities for disabled athletes, worked with the United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA) to create a competitive “adaptive” division within the USASA schedule. The adaptive division grew and, in 2008, USASA -- in partnership with AAS -- hosted the first-ever Adaptive World Championship of Snowboarding. This event was sanctioned by the World Snowboard Federation (WSF). It marked a turning point for the growing sport, triggering worldwide involvement and fueling a push for the Paralympics.
This winter at X Games 15 in Aspen Colorado AAS brought another ground breaking event to life; Adaptive Snowboarder X. Partnering with the X Games AAS invited six of the top ranked adaptive snowboarders in the world to compete in an all out race to the bottom. Evan Strong, Mike Shea and Dan Monzo were among the competitors to attend finishing in first, second and third places.
Evan Strong, a single below knee amputee, commanded the race from the beginning and crossed the finish line first after nailing the 60 foot jump at the bottom of the course.
“This is one of the best moments of my life. This is awesome!” Evan exclaimed at the bottom of the course before raising his arms in victory to the hundreds of spectators watching.
Mike Shea, a single below knee amputee who lost his leg in a wakeboard accident, crossed the line in second place. “I can’t believe we’re at the X Games” added Shea.
Dan Monzo, also a single below knee amputee training in Park City, said that it was like a dream to be at the X Games. “I’ve watched the X Games since I was a kid and now to be here..!”
The Adaptive SnoCross competiton at Winter X Games, which AAS acted as the Co-Sports Organizer for, is just two years old. And in those two years, there has been only one winner, Mike Schultz. Schultz took his second consecutive gold medal in the event finishing 42-seconds ahead of Jeff Tweet, who took the silver.
"I love it, the race is so fun," Schultz said. "I am having a blast being out here again. I love the feeling I get when I get out and do what I love to do."
"It was a dream of mine to compete in X Games," added Tweet. "So winning makes it even better."
An excited Jim Wazny, who took the silver medla in last year's inaugural event, took home the bronze medal this year. "After everything I have been through, I am absolutely stoked to be on the podium," concluded Wazny.
Now in its second year as a medaled event, SnoCross Adaptive features races who will battle on a closed course track lined with rollers, jumps and bermed corners. The track is the same course used in Snowmobile SnoCross, with a few slight adjustments to accommodate the adaptive athletes.