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INTERNATIONAL PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE
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a male Para snowboarder

Matti Suur-Hamari

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Since beginning competitive snowboarding in 2012-13, Finland’s Matti Suur-Hamari has risen as one of the top riders in the men’s field. He celebrated his first Paralympic title at PyeongChang 2018 when he held off the USA’s Keith Gabel in the men’s snowboard-cross SB-LL2. The Finn had to be perfect in the banked slalom races, where he captured bronze in a race where 0.83 seconds separated the medallists. At the 2017 World Para Snowboard World Championships in Big White, Canada, Suur-Hamari retained his world title and added another gold in banked slalom.

It’s a long way from the humble 11th place finish he recorded at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

A year later he pulled off a huge shock by beating US Paralympic champion Evan Strong to the snowboard-cross SB-LL2 gold medal at the 2015 World Championships in La Molina, Spain, having also finished ahead of him in the overall World Cup rankings. Suur-Hamari went on to add a bronze medal in banked slalom to his World Championships haul.

He won both World Cup disciplines in the 2015-16 season, ending again as the leader of the overall rankings ahead of USA’s Mike Shea and Strong. But in 2016-17 he finished second to Strong, showing that the competition is still alive and well in the men's SB-LL2.

It was Strong who inspired the flying Finn to take up Para snowboarding in the first place, having found some YouTube videos whilst recovering from a motorcycle accident in 2009 in which he lost his left leg below the knee.

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment
Acquired
Classification
SB-LL2

Further personal information

Residence
Imatra, FIN
Occupation
Athlete
Languages
English, Finnish

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He first tried snowboarding in 1999, and took up Para snowboard in 2012.
Why this sport?
After his accident he was inspired to return to the sport after watching a video of US Para snowboarder Evan Strong performing tricks. Strong's left leg had also been amputated following a motorcycle accident. "The video lit a flame inside me. I thought that if he was able to do it, so could I."
Name of coach
Mikko Wendelin, FIN

International debut

Year
2013
Competing for
Finland

General interest

Nicknames
The Sledgehammer (paralympic.org, 18 Nov 2016)
Hobbies
BMX, listening to music, hiking, fly fishing, taking walks in nature, karting. (yle.fi, 30 Nov 2018; paralympic.org, 12 Nov 2016)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning a gold medal in adaptive snowboard cross at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, CO, United States of America. (Athlete, 10 Mar 2018)
Most influential person in career
Coach Mikko Wendelin. (Athlete, 10 Mar 2018)
Hero / Idol
Finnish distance runner Lasse Viren. (Athlete, 10 Mar 2018)
Injuries
He sustained an injury to his right arm while competing at the 2019 World Cup event in La Molina, Spain. He underwent surgery and was unable to compete at the 2019 World Championships in Pyha, Finland. (paralympic.org, 28 Mar 2019)
Superstitions / Rituals / Beliefs
"I always do things the same way before the race. I listen to the same songs, and I tell the same bad jokes to the coach." (hs.fi, 12 Mar 2016)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Believe in yourself. Do not be afraid to aspire to big things." (hs.fi, 12 Mar 2016)
Awards and honours
He was flag bearer for Finland at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. He had carried out the same role at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi. (pyeongchang2018.com, 09 Mar 2018; paralympic.org, 16 Mar 2014)

He was received the Snowboard Spectacle of the Year award at the 2016 Spine X Awards in Finland. (Instagram profile, 06 Nov 2016)

He was named Athlete of the Month for February 2014 by the International Paralympic Committee [IPC]. (paralympic.org, 06 Mar 2014)
Milestones
He became the first Finnish snowboarder to win gold at the Paralympic Winter Games when he triumphed in snowboard cross at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang. (SportsDeskOnline, 21 Dec 2018; paralympic.org, 21 Jun 2018)
Impairment
In 2009 his left leg was amputated below the knee following a motorcycle accident. (Athlete, 10 Mar 2018; hs.fi, 12 Mar 2016)

Results

Unit Date Rank
Paralympic Winter Games 2014 (Sochi, Russia)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's Para Snowboard Cross Standing Final Round 2014-03-14 11
2015 IPCAS Para Snowboard World Championships La Molina (La Molina, Spain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's Snowboard Cross SB-LL2 Race 1 2015-02-24 1
Men's Banked Slalom SB-LL2 Race 1 2015-02-28 3
2017 IPC Snowboard World Championships Big White, CAN (Big White, Canada)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's Snowboard Cross SB-LL2 Race 1 2017-02-04 1
Men's Banked Slalom SB-LL2 Race 1 2017-02-07 1
Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games (Pyeongchang, South Korea)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's Snowboard Cross SB-LL2 Final 2018-03-12 1
Men's Banked Slalom SB-LL2 Final 2018-03-16 3