With the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games now underway, we check back in with YVR-sponsored skier Braydon Luscombe, a Vancouver Island native who we are cheering on along with the rest of the Canadian athletes during the Games.
For people who don’t know me already, my name is Braydon Luscombe, I’m from Vancouver Island, and I’m going to compete in Paralympic Alpine Skiing for Canada at the Sochi Games.
I’ve already told my story, now it’s time to teach you all a little bit about the sport in which I compete.
Paralympic Alpine Skiing consists of five different events ranging from the technical aspects of ski racing to the high-velocity speeds of ski racing.
Slalom is my best event. It is a more technical event with singular gates that you cross block as you charge down the hill, generating as much speed as you can from turn to turn. You use shorter skis that are 165 cm long allowing you to make shorter radius turns and link your way around the very close offset gates.
After that we have GS or giant slalom. GS is the next step up but it is still considered a technical event. In GS you now have panels and you must make bigger turns with a wider radius and more room between gates and you will carry more speed.
Super G is the next step up, and this is an event where you will carry much more speed and use much longer skis ranging anywhere from 201cm to 209 cm. There is much more distance between the gates and you make big long sweeping arcs down the mountain.
We now have Super Combined, which I think is one of the more interesting events because you do two different races and then the times are combined. You will do one timed run of Super G and then go change into your slalom gear and do one timed run of slalom. Those two times will then be combined. To do well in Super Combined you need to be fairly good at both events which sometimes can be tough because people usually favour speed over tech races, or tech races over speed.
And last but certainly not least is downhill. Downhill is not my best event, but it is my favourite race. You slap on the long boards and tuck and go as fast as you can down the slope. The turns you make are a very large radius and very far apart so you carry as much speed as you can. You can reach incredible velocity racing downhill depending on the set, anywhere from 100km/h to 140km/h. It definitely takes some guts to race downhill but it is one of the biggest adrenaline rushes you can get and when you reach the bottom and have a good run it is one of the most rewarding feelings.
In Paralympic Alpine skiing there are three different categories starting with the visually impaired category. They are classified by three different levels depending on the athlete's level of sight which determines how much time will be taken off each run he or she makes.
Then there is the standing category which can consist of any type of amputation or paralysis such as a missing arm or leg. Same as with the visual impaired category; there are different levels which factor in to the time taken off and final standings.
Then there is the sitting category where all paralyzed seated athletes will compete against each other in a rig called sit-skis: a seat mounted on top of a big shock linked together with metal brackets, forming a contraption allowing them to race down the hill smoothly and efficiently.
At the end of the day they award medals to the top three athletes in each category, and I hope to snag one of them!
Braydon's first race is tonight at 10 p.m., we will be cheering him on as he goes for gold!