Paralympic Sport Development Fund providing guidance for BC Adaptive Snowsports

Canadian Paralympic Committee

June 27, 2024

Visually impaired skiers get funding help for guides

VANCOUVER – Like his older brother and Paralympian Logan Leach, Matthew Leach is a talented visually impaired Para alpine skier.

At the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing, Logan posted four top-10 results in his Games debut. A year later at the Canada Games in PEI, Matthew took gold in the slalom and silver in the giant slalom.

Both brothers are diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease.

Visually impaired skiing is a “team” event. The athletes need guides to direct them down the steep and varied courses around the world. Not just anybody can be an alpine ski guide. It takes a skilled skier who is as fit as a high performance athlete and can navigate the tight turns in a slalom and blazing speeds in the downhill.

And for a visually impaired skier and their guide to shine at major events like the Paralympics and the Canada Games, it takes hours and hours of practice to develop chemistry on the slopes.

Thanks in part to the Paralympic Sport Development Fund, BC Adaptive Snowsports has been able to provide financial assistance to athletes like Matthew with dreams of one day competing at the Paralympic Winter Games. 

BC Adaptive Snowsports was one of 18 organizations to receive a grant from the 2023-24 Paralympic Sport Development Fund. The PSDF provides grants for local sport organizations, clubs, and programs that contribute to athlete and coach development along the Paralympic pathway.

Funding can support initiatives related to recruitment, coaching, competition, club development, training camps, or other programming that enhances capacity to support the development and experience of athletes and coaches.

As the Snowbility & Athlete Development Manager for BC Adaptive Snowsports, Corrinne Risler directs the funds from the PSDF to the athletes to help with their training from equipment to travel expenses for competitions.

“The PSDF really helped with expenses for families as we have younger athletes,” she said. ” For example, Matthew’s been training four days a week with a guide that needs to be renumerated. So, it’s a lot of money for families, if you look at guide fees, ski club registration fees, all the travel that they do, so it’s a huge impact on the family.”

The PSDF funds supported young promising athletes with guide fees as well as travel and ski club registration fees. 

“Since COVID, expenses have skyrocketed,” said Risling. “We foresee many more financial challenges in the future. We also hold two base camps every year for Para alpine skiers and Para snowboarders so funding like PSDF are extremely valuable.”

“When Matthew started two years ago, he was 14,” said Risling, in her 11th year with BC Adaptive Snowsports. “He liked to go fast but had absolutely no technique. His skiing has totally changed in the last two years and just this year he was a forerunner at nationals. It’s been quite the journey.” 

Over the years, the organization has supported many athletes in Para alpine skiing who moved on to being identified as a NextGen athlete and then representing Canada on the world stage. They include Paralympic champion Josh Dueck, Caleb Brousseau, Matt Hallat and Alex Cairns.

Applications are now open for the 2024-25 Paralympic Sport Development Fund. Please visit for more information, including the application form and eligibility requirements. The deadline to submit applications is June 28, 2024.

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