KINGSTON, Ont. – She arrived as a runner and left a snowboarder. That was Sarah Anne Cormier’s experience in a nutshell when she attended Paralympian Search over two years ago.
Cormier, 28, competed last week at a Para snowboard World Cup event in the Netherlands. The Canada Snowboard NextGen team member finished seventh and eighth in the two scheduled banked slalom races and ranked as high as sixth in one of the heats.
And just a year earlier she made her international competitive debut at Nor Ams at Big White Mountain near Kelowna, BC. Kelowna is the host of the next Paralympian Search on November 30 at the Central Sports Club.
It was only back in 2017 that Cormier made her foray into Para sports when she attended a Paralympian Search event in Toronto.
“It was a really cool experience,’’ said Cormier about the one-day event that invites people with disabilities to test their aptitudes in Paralympic sports. ‘’I was going in with the intention of being a runner in the 100, 200 and 400m sprints. I was classified and they determined my fitness level. Once they learned about my snowboarding background, I met that sport’s rep.’’
She was quite nervous about the event and brought a friend for support.
‘’It was an awesome day,’’ she said. ‘’I saw participants of all ages with different disabilities. It was great to see a few kids get involved as well.’’
Cormier was born with complications from amniotic band syndrome and is missing her left leg below the knee and has various finger amputations on both of her hands. She has undergone seven surgeries to deal with the complications from the syndrome.
Growing up in Collingwood, Ont. near Blue Mountain, Cormier had been an avid snowboarder since she was a young girl, so her basic skills in that sport were already formed. She was initially an alpine skier at age five but at 12 she was self-conscious about her missing leg. She switched to snowboard for which she could use her prosthetic leg.
‘’I attended a Para snowboard development camp about a month after Paralympian Search and they were confident I could make the NextGen team if I was willing to put in the work,’’ she said.
Cormier put in the work and more. She graduated this past May from Queen’s University in nursing and now works in the ICU unit at Kingston General Hospital. That means she combined her training on and off the slopes along with her hectic schedule at school and in the hospital.
Last month, Cormier was selected as one of 55 young Canadian athletes from both Olympic and Paralympic sports to receive a 2019 Fuelling Athletes and Coaching Excellence (FACE) grant.
Developed by Petro-Canada, the Canadian Olympic Committee, and Canadian Paralympic Committee, the FACE program is intended to support up-and-coming athletes who are striving to represent Canada at the Olympic or Paralympic Games.
Now she is a contender for the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games team and Cormier says opportunity awaits for people with a disability interested in sports and beyond.
‘’You can do it,’’ she said. ‘’Sometimes you can feel this world wasn’t built for you. But there is a lot of support and if you have the determination, people with a disability can succeed in whatever endeavours they undertake.’’
The next Paralympian Search event takes place November 30 in Kelowna. For more information please visit Paralympic.ca/Paralympiansearch.