“I am just grateful I am snowboarding again, working out again and able to race in World Cups this season.”
The USA’s Amy Purdy is still recovering from a serious illness that put her out of action for the last few months. But the Sochi 2014 bronze medallist is looking on the bright side and is just glad to be back on her snowboard.
And right on time.
The 2017 World Para Snowboard Championships kicked off on Wednesday (1 February) with the Opening Ceremony in Big White, Canada, and Purdy has a chance to go for her first Worlds medal on Saturday (4 February) in the snowboard-cross finals.
At first, she was unsure if she would even make it to Big White after developing rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle tissue that leads to the release of muscle fibre contents into the blood.
“I am actually doing really well although it was really scary at first,” Purdy said. “With rhabdomyolysis you lose your skeletal muscle cells resulting in a lot of pain and weakness. Plus it puts a huge strain on your kidneys as your body tries to flush out the dead muscle cells.
“I still cannot believe I got it to be honest and it made me upset at myself for a while,” she added. “I rarely push myself that hard and found myself in a cross-fit class that just pushed me over the edge.”
In the women’s SB-LL1 category, Purdy will have to get past the likes of France’s overall 2015-16 World Cup winner Cecile Hernandez-Cervellon; and teammates Nicole Roundy – a two-time bronze medallist from the 2015 World Championships – and Brenna Huckaby, the reigning snowboard-cross world champion.
All already have competitions under their belts this season.
Meanwhile, Purdy made her season debut just last week in Lake Tahoe, USA, taking a victory at the NorAm Cup and finishing third at a World Cup that followed – both in snowboard-cross.
But Purdy knows she has to be in top form at Big White.
“Our arms are so important in life and in snowboarding because many times the person who pulls out of the start gate hardest and fastest wins the race and since both of my arms were affected…” she said.
“I was not sure what this would mean for my snowboard career and chances at making the next Paralympic Team. However, I have been doing nonstop physical therapy and can confirm my arms are doing well.
“For now, I am just grateful I am snowboarding again, working out again and able to race in World Cups this season. Plus, it has given me a lot of time to work on my mental training, getting my head in the right spot. I even picked up meditation which has helped my recovery and mental state.”
Purdy is focused on her main goal: chasing qualification for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games, even if it means finding a balance with her other passions.
“After Sochi I took a few years off from competition to focus on other passions like speaking, TV hosting, writing my book and of course my opportunity to be on [the TV show] ‘Dancing With the Stars.’
“However, last year I knew I wanted to go after the Paralympics again and in order to do that I needed to turn off some of the other projects in order to focus on training and competing again. It is always a balance. I have so many passions in my life, I have a hard time not accepting everything that comes my way.”
Around 64 athletes from 15 countries are in Big White for the 2017 World Para Snowboard Championships, which runs until 8 February. It is the final major competition before the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games.
Athletes will warm-up with training runs on Thursday and Friday (2-3 February), and the first world champions will be crowned on Saturday in snowboard-cross. Banked slalom finals will be contested on 7 February.
Full results will be available at Bigwhite2017.com.
Rights free pictures for editorial use will be available for download at Flickr.
The competition can also be followed on Facebook.com/ParaSnowboard, Twitter and Instagram (@ParaSnowboard).