For Bountiful native Nicole Roundy, a childhood cancer survivor, above-the-knee amputee, and medal-winning snowboarder, it’s money that may end up keeping her and her fellow athletes away from the slopes. Though she dreams of getting adaptive snowboarding into the 2014 Paralympics, the loss of their sponsor has left Roundy and her teammates focusing now on how they’re going to get to their next event.
“Money is so tight, and on the disabled side of things it’s even tighter,” said Roundy, who also works as a sleep technician to help pay for her snowboarding. “As for adaptive athletes, we’ve never had a budget. Everything we’ve done up to this point has been on our own pretty pennies.”
Roundy’s “we” includes herself and the three other athletes she travels and trains with. The group includes Dan Monzo, a New Jersey native and a below-knee amputee rider; Jodie Thring, an Australian standing tetraplegic snowboarder ranked No. 3 in the world at Nationals; and Joe Douglas, a wheelchair snowboarder who is highly ranked in both slalom and GS (a snowboarding event).
The group, which is based out of Park city, has set up a website in order to help raise funds for training and competition. Any help is welcome at http://adaptivesnowboardfund.chipin.com/competition-costs-for-disabled-snowboarders.
“We were hoping that we’d have enough funding to pay for the coaching and opportunities needed to get to the major events this year,” said Roundy, citing a list of competitions that includes the USASA Snowboard Nationals and the X Games in Colorado, international WSF events in Canada and Italy, and the Burton US Open in Vermont.
After a previous season budget she described as “non-existent,” however, and this year’s total absence of a sponsor, getting on the slopes at all will be a challenge.
“When we found out there was going to be even less funding than last year, it kind of put a damper on things,” she said. “Even if we could just come up with the funds for training, or one of the events, it would make such a difference.”
Roundy points to her teammate Thring as an example of just how much of a difference it makes.
“She didn’t have a lot of support in Australia. Before coming here she’d never had a chance to train steady with a coach, which meant that she didn’t have the physical strength to do an event,” she said. “But after getting the chance to train, she ended up third at Nationals. She’s never ranked that high before.”
Roundy’s own leg needs training in order to be prepared for competition, and all of the athletes need resources like transportation and equipment to get them to the competition in the first place.
If the group wants to make their Paralympic dreams come true, they’ll need the chance to take a few of those earlier steps first.
“If you’ve never had the opportunity to compete, how well do you think you’re going to perform without knowing what you’re getting yourself into?” she said. “You need a base if you’re going to perform at this level.”