Hanger Clinic Patients Compete at 2021 U.S. ParaSki Championships
Several Hanger Clinic patients competed in the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Championships and NORAM Cup in Winter Park, Colorado, from March 27-31, 2021 in hopes of earning points to help them qualify for the 2022 US Paralympic Ski Team. Hosted by the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) in conjunction with the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), 45 athletes from 7 countries competed with the goal of reaching Beijing in 2022.
If there’s one thing we’re sure of it’s that Hanger Clinic patients are resilient. Regardless of their individual story, each person works extremely hard to overcome challenges in an effort to achieve their goals. From walking to running, to picking up a new hobby or reigniting their love of sports, anything is possible with hard work and determination.
When it comes to recovering from limb loss, the benefits of having continuous, tangible goals are well documented. When each milestone is achieved, the more empowered you are to continue on to the next step. While most Hanger Clinic patients are not winning gold in prestigious athletic competitions, they are reaching their own personal goals every day. This is the reason Hanger Clinic sponsors events like the U.S. Paralympic Alpine Skiing Nationals. It’s not only to celebrate the elite athletes who have trained to get to the top, it’s to show the world that you can do anything you set your mind to.
The National Sports Center for the Disabled, who hosted the event in Winter Park at the end of March, shares a similar view. According to their website, “By rethinking ability, we instill a spark of ‘what if’ in people who haven’t realized what they’re capable of. Helping them discover their abilities helps them redefine how they approach life. And that helps families, friends, and the greater community realize that we are all more similar than we are different.”
Five Adaptive Athletes, Five Unique Stories
For some, reaching the pinnacle of their sport is the ultimate dream. For these five Hanger Clinic patients and adaptive skiers, it is just that. Most recently, they (along with many others) competed at the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Championships and NORAM Cup in Winter Park, Colorado, from March 27-31, 2021. Each has a unique story but with a common thread: they all want to empower others to achieve their dreams. Here are their stories:
Allie Johnson is a 25-year-old competitive skier who was born without a fully-developed arm on her right side. She has been skiing since she was 4 years old and is currently ranked 17th in the world in the Super G, 24th in the world in Giant Slalom, and 24th in the world in Slalom. She won two gold medals and four silvers at the Championships last month. Her life’s mission is to “enable others with disabilities to achieve their goals through teaching, through support, and through example.”
Matthew Brewer is a cancer survivor who later lost both of his legs above the knee due to an accidental drug overdose. His recovery was tough, with a lot of ups and downs, but once he found the right clinical and peer support, he had the blueprint to move forward. Eventually, Matthew pursued sports as an outlet to stay physically and mentally healthy. A dedicated athlete, he participates in a wide variety of competitions, including swimming, running, surfing, and skiing. Last month, he placed fifth, sixth, and seventh in three different alpine skiing events in Winter Park.
Patrick Halgren lost his left leg in a motorcycle accident in 2012. Choosing positivity, he decided to make the most out of his situation and start working toward his dream of representing the United States in the Paralympics. He’s is currently ranked 30th in the world in Slalom, 44th in the world in the Super G, and 56th in the world in Giant Slalom. In Winter Park last month, he won one silver medal and three bronze medals across the three alpine events.
Ravi Drugan lost both of his legs above the knee after being hit by a train in 2004. A former skateboarder growing up in Oregon, Ravi had dreams of going to the X Games. Four years after his accident, he found mono-skiing and has been racing ever since. He is currently ranked second in the world in para-alpine skiing and hopes to earn a spot to compete in the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing. At the event last month, he won one silver medal and three bronze medals across the Slalom, Giant Slalom, and Super GS events.
Tyler McKenzie suffered a spinal cord injury in 2017, paralyzing his left arm from the shoulder down. With a lifelong passion for skiing, Tyler shifted his focus to coaching kids and rediscovered the strong fundamentals needed to excel in the sport. He eventually began competing and is now ranked among the top para skiers at the national and international levels. At the Winter Park event in March, Tyler won gold in the Giant Slalom, silver in the Super GS, and bronze in the Slalom NORAM events.
Congratulations to all the athletes on a job well done. Many thanks to Smartwool for providing base layer garments to help keep our team members warm.
See the Action Firsthand: Watch KDVR Fox 31 Denver’s Coverage of the Event
Calling All Paralympic Hopefuls
If you are a Hanger Clinic patient and are attempting to qualify for Tokyo or Beijing, we want to hear from you! Reach out to tell us your story.