Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for April 20, 2012

Darryl Tait crowned Uphill Challenge ‘King of the Hill’

Darryl Tait waited at Yukon Honda on Thursday afternoon, unsure of why he’d been called into the dealership.

By Sam Riches on April 20, 2012 at 1:50 pm

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Photo by Sam Riches

KING OF THE SLOPES – Darryl Tait holds up his ‘King of the Hill’ trophy Thursday afternoon at Yukon Honda. Tait competed in the Uphill Challenge at Mt. Sima over the past weekend.

Darryl Tait waited at Yukon Honda on Thursday afternoon, unsure of why he’d been called into the dealership.

Moments later, he got his answer.

Tait was awarded a “King of the Hill Trophy,” from Jason Adams and Yukon Yamaha.

The trophy, standing around three-feet in height, was presented to Tait for his efforts at the Uphill Challenge which was hosted at Mt. Sima this past weekend.

In October of 2009, Tait lost the use of his legs after his snowmobile landed on him and severed his spine while competing at a freestyle demonstration sporting event in Fremont, New Hampshire.

While the accident robbed him of his ability to walk, Tait refused to let it rob him of his passion.

Influenced by Doug Henry, a former national motocross champion who was paralyzed in a crash during competition in 2007, Tait started designing a modified sled.

Today, he’s racing again and loving every minute of it.

“I was stoked to be riding against my friends and be back in the same element,” Tait said of the Uphill Challenge.

“Competing against my friends and still actually being neck-neck with them, it’s a good feeling,” he said. “I might have lost the use of my legs but I’m still there competing and almost just as good as they are and trying to get better than them. So to have that element again is pretty sweet.”

Tait’s competitive drive resulted in a close finish and one busted seat at the Uphill Challenge.

“I was racing against my buddy Matt Wolsynuk and we were neck-in-neck coming down to the last jump around the last corner,” he said.

“He was a little bit ahead of me so I gripped the throttle a little harder and sent it off the jump a little further than him and landed a little flat and busted the seat in half,” he said.

Tait said he knew right away that something had gone wrong.

“There was a big crack and a boom and I looked down and knew something wasn’t right,” he said.

The incident happened during Tait’s fifth run of the competition and ended his day a little earlier than expected.

“I limped my sled up the hill and took a look at it then rode down and said I was done for the day,” he said.

Despite having less time on the hill, Tait said he was happy just to be out riding and competing again.

Adams referred to Tait’s performance as inspirational.

“It’s very motivating for the rest of us,” he said.

“When we’re complaining about our sore muscles it’s a little bit of perspective.

“He’s had a significant accident and it limits him but he’s still out there doing what everyone else is doing and he’s doing it as good or better. He deserves to be recognized for what he’s doing.”

Tait said the modifications to his sled are still an on-going process but he’s satisfied with the way things have been progressing.

“The only limitations so far is I bottom out the shocks sometimes when I jump with it. Eliminating that it would make it a smoother ride.”

Tait was hoping to qualify for the X-Games SnoCross event this season but the competition was withdrawn from the year’s line-up.

“Early in the season I was racing around the dirt bike track pretty hard because I was trying to train to get there (the X-Games),” he said. “Unfortunately they made an announcement cancelling the SnoCross so basically that eliminated that option for me, so then I just kind of tamed it down and did it for fun and raced against my friends and just enjoyed it.”

Tait said if the event were reinstated he would continue his pursuit of attempting to qualify and race on the international circuit.

He has plans for a new design and is looking forward to seeing how his machine and his racing continue to evolve.

“I’m planning another design for the summer and going into the next winter season so I can make it better and keep up with my buddies that much better,” he said.

Despite his progression with the designs, Tait said he has no intentions of putting a patent on his work.

“There might just be a handful of people that want to ride as hard as I do,” he said.

“So basically it’s putting it out there and progressing along with it and if people have got better ideas just feeding off each other and making it a better world.

“Like every adaptation in sporting it’s just getting better and better and getting pushed further and further.”

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