Sandrine Hamel taps into her inner daredevil in 2020

Canadian Paralympic Committee

December 08, 2020

New summer activity keeps Para snowboarder active

Sandrine Hamel action

CANMORE, Alta. – With the competitive calendar pretty much a write-off due to COVID-19, Para snowboarder Sandrine Hamel needed her adrenaline fix this season.

The courageous petite Paralympian decided to get involved in a new sport this summer: motocross. With the help of her parents, she rip-roared through her family’s property and the trails in the Quebec Laurentians.

“I had never even been on a bicycle, so it was quite dramatic to start on the much faster motocross,’’ said Hamel from Canmore, where the national team is holding a bubble camp.

‘’Usually we are busy with camps throughout the summer, so it was nice to have the time to try something totally new.

‘’It’s always fun to see what skills you might develop with another sport.’’

Hamel made an impressive Paralympic Games debut in 2018. She placed fifth in both the snowboard cross and banked slalom events in PyeongChang. The following season she won two silver medals at the world championships in Pyha, Finland. She started the 2019-2020 World Cup season with a silver in the banked slalom in Norway before COVID came calling and shut things down. 

Born with a double major scoliosis, Hamel also experienced a paralyzed right leg during corrective surgery. From a young age she was determined to be like other kids despite her disability. That could explain her passion for thrills.

‘’I always wanted to surpass my limits,’’ she said. ‘’It’s quite stimulating when it works, and I was always wondering what is the craziest thing I could accomplish.’’

Canada’s Para snowboarders recently returned to snow for the first time in seven months and the extra time in camp is allowing Hamel to experiment with her equipment and her jumping abilities.

‘’During the season we don’t fiddle too much with our equipment,’’ said the 23-year-old. ‘’I have one leg longer than the other so for me it’s finding pieces that can help me bend my knee easier, test bindings, and even try different boards to find one that can be more advantageous for my disability.”

As for being daring – that intangible quality in the sport of snowboarding – she’s got plenty of that in reserve.

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