Aspiring adaptive Olympians: Dew Tour doubles as Pyeongchang Paralympic qualifier for first time
December 15, 2017
For the first time in Dew Tour history, the men's and women's World Para Snowboard Federation sanctioned a North American snowboarding competition at Breckenridge Ski Resort on Friday, meaning the event doubled as a qualifier for the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympic Games.
It's the second time adaptive snowboarding has been contested at Dew Tour, as racers were divided into impairment classes, according to World Para Snowboard rules.
Evan Strong, the Sochi 2014 Para-Snowboardcross gold medalist, took first place for the United States with the best time in the men's field at 1:06.74. It came on the traditional snowboard banked slalom course with 22 turns.
Strong, who rides with a below-the-knee prosthetic on his left leg, won the Men's Lower Limb 2 Impairment class, ahead of fellow Americans Michael Shea and Keith Gabel. It was a repeat of the trio's podium sweep in Sochi.
"To have the Dew Tour hosting a Paralympic qualifier for the adaptive division is kind of surreal when I think back on my 10 years in this sport, from when it was real grassroots and we had a hard time getting anybody to take us seriously," Strong said. "And now look at us: We're at Dew Tour, getting to snowboard right next to our biggest heroes, with a chance to truly show everyone what we are capable of."
Noah Elliott, a newcomer to the sport after losing his left leg above the knee to osteosarcoma bone cancer two years ago, won the Men's Lower Limb 1 Impairment class, ahead of Mike Schultz and Dutch rider Chris Vos.
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Michael Minor, who was born without a right forearm, won the Men's Upper Limb Impairment class ahead of Australian rider Simon Patmore and Italian rider Jacopo Luchini.
Americans won two of the three women's race classes, with Brenna Huckaby finishing ahead of Amy Purdy and Nicole Roundy in the Lower Limb 1 Impairment class and Peggy Martin as the lone competitor in the Women's Upper Limb impairment class.
Dutch rider Lisa Bunschoten won the Lowe Limb 2 Impairment class, ahead of Australian rider Joany Badenhorst and Dutch rider Renske van Beek.
"Being able to have our sport showcased in an arena like Dew Tour gets the message out about what these athletes are capable of and really delivers a message to everybody about what we're all capable of," said Daniel Gale, the executive director of Adaptive Action Sports.
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