A Campbell River Para snowboarder is on top of the world today after winning his first World Championship gold in men’s snowboard cross in Lillehammer, Norway.
Tyler Turner took the gold in a dramatic final race in the SB-LL1 event at the event on Friday. It was Turner’s second medal of the World Para Snow Sports Championships. He took home bronze in the dual banked slalom event last Friday.
Turner is relatively new to the sport. He lost his legs after a 2017 skydiving accident, but that has not slowed his competitive drive. Turner also won the gold in the 2021 World Cup in Colere, Italy.
“This is amazing, and I am so happy to have put it together and make it happen today,” said Turner after the race, in which he beat reigning Paralympic champion, Mike Schultz from the USA, into silver and his compatriot, Tyler Burdick into bronze.
The previous two-time world champion Chris Vos from the Netherlands fell during the event and came fourth.
“They [the finalists] have pushed the level so far,” Turner said. “It is really awesome to race against them. They are the best of the best. I hope I can keep this rolling for the Paralympics.”
Turner’s win has another local connection. One of his sponsors, Kindred Custom Snowboards and Skis, makes hand-built snowboards and skis in Merville. Angie Farquharson and Evan Fair, the owners of Kindred watched Turner’s race on Friday.
“He blew them out of the water, it was amazing. He did so well. It was amazing,” said Farquharson. “He passed someone! It doesn’t always happen. At that sport, the first out of the gate is usually the winner, so watching him pass that guy in the corner… it was a very exciting race.”
Kindred has been working with Turner for years, from before he had his accident. The connection is more than just a sponsor/athlete relationship, it goes back to when Fair and Turner were growing up together.
“They actually both moved out to Vancouver Island together,” Farquharson said. “Ty moved out here to ride Mt. Washington and Ev followed him. That’s how I met Evan, through Ty. It’s this really full circle journey. It’s the dream to support him. We would support his journey no matter what we were doing, it just so happens that they really pair well.”
The custom gear manufacturing that Kindred does lends itself perfectly to Turner’s needs. He is a SB-LL1 rider, which is the classification for snowboarders who have moderate impairment affecting knees or legs, loss of one leg above the knee or the loss of two legs below the knee. These riders have affected balance, and have reduced feedback perception from the edges of their boards. This affects the control of their boards, and affects the ability of riders to navigate bumps and uneven terrain. SB-LL1 is a competition class that will be included in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. Since he is a double amputee, his board has particular specifications so he can perform at the highest level.
“We do little things like build foot plates that create a cant to compensate for the prosthetics. They basically give him the ability to stay more balanced. His gait changed when he had his legs amputated. There are adjustments that need to be made so that he can ride balanced,” Farquharson said.
While many of the riders at that level are on custom boards, Farquharson said it is nice to see the local brand represented at the world stage. Turner is not the only rider on a Kindred board, his teammate Lisa Dejong from Biggar Sask. is also on a Merville-made board. Dejong has also been bringing home medals from Lillehammer over the past few days.
Turner hopes to compete in the 2022 Paralympic games, a hope that started as soon as he began to recover from his 2017 accident.