Canada and China make Para snowboard historyJi and Turner put their countries on top of the podium for the first time while Suur-Hamari defends his title and Hernandez wins women's race 07 Mar 2022
When 2022 began Tyler Turner was a 33-year-old newcomer ready to take on the biggest challenges yet in his short Para snowboard career. Sixty-six days later, he has become Canada’s first-ever Paralympic medallist in the sport and cemented his position as one of the best SB-LL1 riders the world has seen.
Turner followed up his snowboard cross world title from January’s Lillehammer 2021 with the men's SB-LL1 snowboard cross Paralympic title at the Genting Snow Park on Monday.
"This is incredible. I don't even know if it's sunk in yet. This is crazy,” said the Canadian rider.
“Four years ago I didn't even think I'd snowboard, and now standing on top of the podium, it's unbelievable."
Turner lost his legs in a skydiving accident in 2017 and four years later took his first Para Snowboard World Cup gold in Colere, Italy. But after his three medals and two golds in the World Championships, he arrived in Beijing as a one to watch.
"I felt no pressure. I started building some momentum through the season. At World Champs, it all came together and then to finish it off here, I just stuck to the plan,” he added. "We say in Canada: pucks deep. I got pucks deep, stuck to the game plan and here we are. It worked out for me."
USA’s PyeongChang 2018 champion Mike Schultz finished with silver this time followed by China’s Zhongwei Wu. Silver in 2018, Dutch rider Chris Vos ended in fourth place.
“These guys are the best. I said to Mike, it's such a pleasure to get to race with him," Turner added.
Matti Suur-Hamari defended his snowboard cross SB-LL2 gold putting Finland on the top of the podium for the first time at Beijing 2022.
“It could not be better. It’s been a really tough couple of years. As a team, we worked so hard getting to these Games,” said the 35-year-old. “"Actually winning this medal, it means a lot. I don’t have the words, you can see it in my eyes.”
USA’s Garrett Geros picked a silver in his Paralympic debut with Australia’s Ben Tudhope claiming bronze, his first Paralympic medal in his third Games. China’s Qi Sun was fourth.
The host nation completely dominated the men’s SB-UL class putting four riders in the final. Lijia Ji beat his compatriots to take the first Paralympic gold to China in Para snowboard.
Pengyao Wang (silver) and Yonggang Zhu (bronze) completed the podium sweep.
"To be honest, in yesterday’s qualifying I wanted to be [ranked] in the first place, but it turned out to be fourth place. But I am satisfied with what I did in the semifinal. And surprisingly, I saw us — four Chinese athletes in the big final. We were really happy. Our goal is to bring glory to our home country," Ji said.
France’s Cecile Hernandez took her first Paralympic title in the women’s snowboard cross SB-LL2. Canada’s Lisa Dejong took the silver medal in her first Paralympic Winter Games followed by USA’s Brenna Huckaby in third.
PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist Lisa Bunschoten of the Netherlands crashed with Huckaby and did not finish the race.
“I am really happy with this gold medal. It has been my dream since I started Paralympic snowboarding,” Hernandez said. "In the morning my coach said 'the final is for you', and I said, 'No, first the quarter then the semi then the final'. I just wanted to focus on what I have to do to be in the final and then to get the best medal.”
Dejong was also over the moon after the race:
“I feel absolutely amazing. It was unexpected. Just to make it in the big final, I felt like I already did what I came here to do. To come in second is amazing.
“I didn’t know they [Bunschoten and Huckaby] crashed. I just get in my zone and don’t look back. I just made my fastest and cleanest run.”
The Para snowboard action at the Genting Snow Park continues on Saturday (12 March) with the four gold medals up for grabs in the banked slalom finals.
Live streaming and live results from Beijing 2022 are available on Paralympic.org. You can follow all the action, behind the scenes and news on World Para Snow Sports social media channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.