Island snowboarder places first at world cup event in Italy

Island snowboarder places first at world cup event in Italy
Photo submitted to CHEK News
Campbell River's Tyler Turner placed first in the Men's Snowboard Cross 2 event at the World Para Snowboard World Cup in Colere, Italy.

A competitive Para-snowboarder from Vancouver Island is officially a winner on the world stage.

Campbell River’s Tyler Turner placed first in the Men’s Snowboard Cross 2 event at the World Para Snowboard World Cup in Colere, Italy earlier this month.

Turner, a 32-year-old double leg amputee, edged out American competitors Noah Elliot and Mike Schultz as well as Chris Vos of the Netherlands in the final heat of the Lower Limb 1 division to win gold.

“I don’t even really know how to put it into words. I couldn’t have expected that outcome. It’s really exciting,” Turner told CHEK News on Sunday.

The world cup event was Turner’s first as a member of Canada’s para snowboarding team. He said he wasn’t expecting to win the event, but is thrilled by the experience.

“My heart was pounding every single race going into the finals was like shaking almost,” Turner recalled. “Then, when I made that final, I was laughing because I was like ‘what am I doing?’ because it was more than I could have imagined.”

Turner’s legs were amputated as a result of injuries sustained from a skydiving accident in 2017.

His right leg was amputated right after the accident and his left leg was rebuilt using the bones from his right leg, which didn’t work out so well.

“My left leg was completely useless and my foot was paralyzed and the nerve pain was incredible,” Turner said. “My right leg was moving forward with the prosthetic and I was ready to walk three months after with my right leg.”

Unfortunately, the pain in Turner’s left leg continued, even after multiple surgeries, and so the decision was eventually made to amputate.

“I was very happy going into that surgery, I was smiling and I don’t think the nurses knew what was going on because I was so happy to have my leg amputated,” Turner said.

Prior to having his left leg amputated, Turner said he had been going through a difficult time, putting on weight and becoming hooked on drugs after getting “pretty deep” into painkillers.

“I needed to get back into shape. I had put on a lot of weight and that was when it was like ‘OK how am I going to snowboard, how am I going to skydive, how am I going to surf, how am I going to do everything?” he said.

Once his left leg was gone, everything changed.

“When my second leg got amputated, I knew it was time to accomplish some things, and contrary to what most people think, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” he said.

Turner now enjoys all the sports he used to before the accident, including surfing, wakeboarding and even returning to his old job as a skydiving instructor.

“I got back to snowboarding, I got back surfing, rock climbing, all the sports I love,” he said.

The 32-year-old said once his legs were removed, he felt there might be a chance he could compete competitively in para-snowboarding, but didn’t expect to win anything at his first world cup event.

I have always had the desire to be the best, that’s what I’ve always strived to be,” he said. “I thought there was a chance I could go to the Paralympics, but I didn’t exactly expect my first world cup to come away with a gold medal.

“It is surreal.”

Unfortunately, Turner cannot celebrate his victory with friends and family in person just yet as he is currently quarantining in a hotel room.

“I have to go immediately into a hotel room for the next two weeks and I can’t even celebrate it,” he said. “I am just sitting here, me and my plaque and [I have been getting] a lot of amazing love on the internet and phone calls and that has been nice.”

As for what’s next, Turner is eying to represent Canada at the upcoming 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing.

He said he has come a very long way since the accident and called his win the “cherry on top.”

“I just went for it and I won and I still can’t believe it,” he said.

Full results can be viewed here.

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Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod

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