Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for February 6, 2013

Yukoner the first Canadian to compete in adaptative snocross at X Games

Competing at the X Games was a dream for Darryl Tait even before the 2009 snowmobile accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

By Ainslie Cruickshank on February 6, 2013 at 3:32 pm

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Photo by Anna Crawford

NEW EXPERIENCE – Whitehorse resident Darryl Tait became the first Canadian in late January to compete in the adaptive snocross category at the X Games in Colorado.

Competing at the X Games was a dream for Darryl Tait even before the 2009 snowmobile accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Three years after that accident, he got the chance he’d been waiting for.

Tait competed at the games in Colorado late last month in the adaptive snocross, a snowmobile racing category for competitors with physical disabilities. He was the first Canadian ever to compete in the category.

“I didn’t let that pressure get to me and try to go for gold or whatever, I just wanted to do what I love doing,” he said during an interview Tuesday afternoon at Baked Cafe.

Tait ultimately came last, but he left the games satisfied with his performance.

“I played it safe…I wanted to try and keep ahead of some people but it was getting a little sketchy and the last thing I wanted was to crash and get injured again,” he said.

“I came last but that gives me a goal to go back and try to do better.”

Tait has attended the X Games twice before, trying to secure an invitation to compete.

Before his accident he’d met Ashlee Painchaud, the owner of Braand – one of his sponsors and a company that helps injured athletes get back to what they love doing.

When she heard about his accident Painchaud helped him secure the connections he needed.

Tait was accompanied to the games by both his parents and all three were forced to relive some difficult memories when X Games competitor Caleb Moore crashed.

“It was a similar accident to what I had, the snowmobile pretty much crushed him,” said Tait. While Moore was able to walk away from the crash, he died soon after in hospital at the age of 25.

“It was tough. There were three accidents that day that my parents and I watched and they were exactly how I had my injury,” said Tait.

“Looking at them and their crashes and looking at my family, it brought back a lot of memories.”

The risk of injury is increasing, said Tait, “but athletes know that so they train in foam pits and try to get their trick styled before they bring it to the snow.”

“It’s all calculated risk and they know what they’re getting themselves into, but when you’re dealing with a 500 lb machine it’s pretty risky.”

“You have to make that decision, I made that decision that I was willing to die doing the sport that I love doing and I almost did.

“But now that I have a second chance and I’m still able to ride my machine I’m not willing to take that same risk and put my family and friends through that torment that

I’ve already put them through,” Tait said.

“Just to be able to ride and hang out with my friends and be able to compete but not push it to the same level that I was before is satisfying enough for me.”

Tait may not be pushing himself to the same level he would have before his accident, but the risks of competing have only increased.

Being strapped into a custom-designed snowmobile seat by Mercer Contracting “ups the risk level,” said Tait.

“If my sled rolls I’m going with it so that’s why I’m playing it a little bit safer, I don’t have the option of letting go of my machine and bailing off.”

Knowing a lot about calculated risks and what it means to live with the consequences of taking those risks, Tait was asked to participate in the Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth program, or PARTY program, offered through the Whitehorse General Hospital. Through the program Tait shares his story with local Grade 9 and 10 students and talks about calculated risk.

CommentsAdd a comment

flyingfur

Feb 7, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Seems like a nice young man.  My concern is that he is taking a high and unnecessary risk doing this “sport” and it is what put him in the chair in the first place, it is what killed another young man at the games recently, and might end up in further injury or worse for Mr. Tait.  Stop while you are ahead Darryl.

Jackie Ward

Feb 8, 2013 at 7:03 am

I usually have sympathy and understanding for ones who deserve it. Doing flips on a snow mobile, getting paralyzed, then going back to the same thing? You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Sandra Langer

Feb 8, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Unbelievable! 
How can anyone have anything other than admiration for a guy like this?  Your comments are ignorant to say the least!  You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. 
You Go Darryl!  Do anything you want! Enjoy your life!  We are very proud of you!

A.Carter

Feb 8, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Some people live their lives under rocks, afraid of everything and incapable of taking on challenges or risks. The fact is though, that those who DO take risks (whether they live longer, considerably shorter, or just as long as anyone else) got the most memorable experiences. They LIVED, most likely more in one day than people taking it too easy will their entire “lives”. Nobody has ever said things like “If you don’t take risks, your life will be great!” or “Try not challenging yourself and you will be fulfilled.” They have however said things like “With great risk come great reward!” OR “You never know when you’re going to die so live your life to the fullest!” And Jackie: I don’t think Darryl is looking for sympathy or understanding. He understands why he does what he does, it’s a passion, and from what I have noticed one of yours is commenting on ABSOLUTELY everything that has nothing to do with you nor does your opinion add any intellectual perspective. It’s merely your opinion…mine is, you should get off your computer and try to live a little.
Darryl is inspiring, not for his ability to come back at it again, not for overcoming what most couldn’t, but I think for being able to let his dreams and his talent be his motivation in life regardless of the haters!

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