Slick as Ice: PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games
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Slick as Ice: PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games

December 3, 2019

mountainous terrain makes it one of the top ski training
destinations in the world. It’s bred hardy Paralympic
skiers like… (GRUNTS) Both men travel to Pyeongchang in
March for the 2018 Paralympic Games. MAN: It’s gonna be important
to go out and do what I do — just concentrate on the
skiin’ and skiin’ fast. MAN: The margins are getting
smaller and smaller, and that’s where we’re tryin’ to
do absolutely everything that we
possibly can to squeeze in and push
the margins out. MALE ANNOUNCER: All right
on day one to take the lead— Oh, he trips the red gate,
and he’s down. GRUNTS: Oh! Oh, he’s late at it!
He’s late at it! Oh! At the Winter Paralympics in Korea, Corey and Adam will be joined
by Kiwi snowboarder Carl Murphy,
each competing in a separate class. Their drive for medals is critical
to their future as athletes. If they don’t deliver results,
they don’t get investments. MAN: None of us can afford to hide, and, no, we gotta make sure that we
need to do better in order to beat
the competition. Captions by Shrutika Gunanayagam. Captions were made with
the support of NZ On Air. Copyright Able 2018 (PHONE RINGTONE CHIMES) (GENTLE ACOUSTIC GUITAR MUSIC) Otago-born and raised, Adam Hall has travelled the
world circuit for 13 years. Adam’s training for his
fourth Paralympics. He’s been ranked in the top five
in his class for almost a decade. It’s my morning ritual of… Weet-Bix every morning,… (PACKAGING RUSTLES)
…as a good southern man, I guess. His mum introduced him
to skiing as a child, knowing it would help build strength
and offset his spina bifida. He’s done winters back-to-back
for 16 seasons. I never knew how long I’d be
able to keep doing this, especially from a body point and
how I’d be able to hold up, but training’s been really good for
my body. It’s probably been one of
the best things for me, and it’s kept me really healthy,
and it’s kept me really fit. (ENGINE STARTS) (LOW, PULSING, INTRIGUING MUSIC) (MUSIC FILLS OUT) Corey Peters was introduced to the
sit-ski just two years after he
became paralysed. Preferably racin’ in bluebird
conditions is, you know,
the ideal situation, but in an outdoor sport like we do,
Mother Nature does what she wants. Nah, honestly, this is
really good weather. This is really good weather;
I’m serious. Like, on a normal day, we wouldn’t
be anywhere near as good as this. We use different lenses in our
goggles to try and, you know,
cope with those conditions and the flat light and
stuff like that. When you’re goin’ at the
speeds that we go at, it’s pretty nice to be able to see
the terrain and the bumps and the
ruts. Before his accident, Corey was
a motocross rider and surfer. The sit-ski felt surprisingly
natural. (PENSIVE HIP-HOP MUSIC) Four years ago at his first
Paralympics in Sochi, he stunned the skiing community and
himself by taking out silver in the
sit-ski. MALE ANNOUNCER: The time of
Christoph Kunz — 2:32.73. Corey Peters for the gold.
Or is it silver? He’s outside; it’s silver medal
for Corey Peters. I guess, looking back to Sochi,
there was no pressure for me. I was kinda the new kid on the
block, and I could just go out
there and do my thing. So for me, it’s gonna be important
to try and keep that mentality. I would say Corey would be the
fastest progressing athlete that
the sport has ever seen — kinda sent, I think, a shockwave
through the whole sport, specifically in the sit-skiers. Adam’s a bit of a legend himself. Regarded as the most disabled skier
in his class, he continues to
dominate world events. It’s hard for me to even understand
how I ski as well, because when you look at the way
that I walk and then I jump on skis,
it’s a completely different result. It’s a Kiwi company that designs
Adam’s custom orthotics that give his feet and ankles
the stability to ski. The tips of his skis are tethered
to keep his skis aligned. (EXPECTANT ELECTRONIC MUSIC) It was a spectacular race in
Vancouver eight years ago that resulted in Adam’s
Paralympic gold. MALE ANNOUNCER: It’s a 0.38,
and he’s skied the top half well. MALE ANNOUNCER: Oh no! Oh no, Adam Hall. And having to re-correct now —
how much time has that taken
from his advantage? (CHEERING) But he stills wins it! Unbelievable! Adam Hall has done it. He spent the next four years
training on slopes around the world, and in 2014 was on track
to win gold again,… MALE ANNOUNCER: Ohhh, just getting
caught on the inside edge. …but a random virus zapped
his energy on the day. From his advantage, 1:43.69 — oh, he’s taken too much;
he’s outside. And the defending Winter Paralympic
champion will not be retaining his
title. ADAM: It’s kinda turned into,
I guess, for me, from a four-year campaign to now
an eight-year campaign again, and I simply wanna just be able to
go up there and, you know, finish
unfinished business, I guess. He’s since gone on to world
championships and podiumed
at world championships, so he’s sort of getting back
to where his best is. What we’ve seen is a lot of fast
rises out of different countries,… (GRUNTS) …and that increases the
pressure on the old guard, cos they have to, you know, work out
what they’ve gotta do to stay ahead. (THUD!) Also part of the old guard
is 38-year-old Carl Murphy. The snowboarder has been competing
internationally for 10 years, but now with three young children,
it’s harder to be away on the
circuit for weeks on end. For the past two years, Carl has
battled major leg injuries that impacted not his amputated limb
but his good leg, but he’s back. When it first happened, that
definitely crossed my mind —
that this could be the end. When I had my surgery and I sorta
started to recover from that, I was like, ‘Keep pushing here
and see what happens’ — see if I can get back to where
I wanna be and get to the next
Paralympics. MAN: Attention! (SHOUTING) Carl competes in the boardercross
and banked slalom, where he’s
ranked third in the world. (INDISTINCT PA ANNOUNCEMENT) Funding of elite athletes is
based on pure performance. Having dedicated their lives to the
sport, all three athletes are under
no illusion — they must medal. New Zealand, you know, Winter
Paralympic athletes have always
represented New Zealand well. We’ve always brought home medals
from every Paralympic Games from
the ’80s all the way through except for 2006
in Torino, I believe. So we’ve
always been very successful. You know, and then Corey saved our
butt in Sochi with the silver,
which was pretty cool as well. We’re looking to build on
foundations that were put
down in Vancouver, Sochi, and we’re looking for the team
to deliver multiple medals, as well as bring through an extra
couple of new faces that can go
on and perform beyond 2018 into 2022 and beyond that. One of the new athletes on the radar
of Snow Sports NZ is 21-year-old
Aaron Ewen. Aaron was talented BMX competitor
until an horrific accident ended
his career. He crashed after hitting
a tree at speed. Snow Sports coaches suspected he had
the makings of a Paralympic athlete, but Aaron wasn’t sure he wanted that
pressure while he was coming to
terms with his disability. Oh, at the start, did the
season in New Zealand; it was good, but think I did two
days’ training in gates and was
like, ‘Nah.’ Never want— Don’t wanna race — like,
too serious and not that fun and all
that. So I just ended up freeskiing,
having fun for the two months. You’ve gotta set things free
sometimes for them to come back. So Aaron spent a year just bladding
around and learning how his ski
worked. After a year of doing that,
he decided to go a bit more
into the race arena. After that, I was like, ‘Sweet,
yeah, it’s on,’ and just worked
for the summer and then, when winter came round,
just packed up my shit and moved
to Wanaka. In his first season, he won
international events. Now
the real business begins — grooming him to compete
at future Paralympics. Younger athletes, they’re excitable,
and they’re full of energy, and they haven’t learnt that
actually being a full-time athlete’s
quite a tough role. It involves a lot of energy, and it
involves a lot of commitments and a
lot of sacrifices. (PENSIVE ACOUSTIC MUSIC) Post-accident, paraplegics rapidly
lose muscle tone. Reset. Aaron has almost no control
of his stomach muscles,… That’s it — nice and strong. …but core stability is vital
to manoeuver a sit-ski. Three, two,…
(GRUNTS SOFTLY) …one. Nice. By comparison, Corey’s developed
massive shoulder and core strength
since his accident. COREY: For me, this is kinda
what I do for warm-up… but also to try and keep, like,
my shoulders strong and robust,
because if we are to crash, the first point of contact is gonna
be our shoulders. I’m using a lot
of core and oblique, so that’s the sort of prominent
muscles that I use through out
the turning. Adam began competing in a era when
adaptive skiing was just starting. As the sport’s taken off,
there’s understanding of how to
push these disabled athletes harder. ADAM: So I’m about just about
to do a dead lift,… (WEIGHTS CLANK) and this is one of my key
exercises that I do to really gain that leg strength that I
been looking for and trying to gain, so really tryin’ to find that
overall global power. (GRUNTS) (BARBELL THUDS, CLATTERS) For me, I don’t have any movement in
my ankles or feet or any feelings. Laterally, I haven’t been
able to access much. (GRUNTS) (BARBELL THUDS, CLATTERS) So it’s tryin’ to find just those
small, little things that I haven’t
had in the past, but even if there’s just a tiny
little fire, if I can work on that,
that’s gonna add that extra 1%. Good. The programme that
we’ve got here is, you know, one of the best
support that we can give, and the training that’s provided
with their coaches and the
support staff around them, so, I mean, these young guys that
are comin’ into the programme now
have just got, you know, more time to develop. (CLICK! GENTLE CHATTER) (CLICK!) I was impressed when
I first met Corey — the determination to push through
useless situation that he maybe
found himself in after his accident and that drive to work and to push. (LOW, PENSIVE MUSIC) (BIRDS CHIRP) Before his accident, Corey worked as
a builder. He’s been determined to
regain independence. Bein’ an older athlete — now 34;
I was 26 when I had the accident — I think havin’ that career and,
you know, that responsibility
of havin’ a full-time job has kind of transferred, I guess,
into some of my, you know, training
principles and my attitude, I guess. Corey’s life has always
been about sport, especially before
his motorbike crash. Like any Kiwi bloke, you know, we
just enjoy our rugby in New Zealand and just enjoyed gettin’ out there
with your mates and getting dirty
and bein’ physical. And then it changed to
surfing and motocross. (ENGINE SPUTTERS, REVS) Just really enjoyed going
fast and jumping. You know, some of the
jumps were 60ft, 70ft. Obviously, that come with
quite high risks, and, you know, you had to be quite
calculated with the speed that you
come into the jumps, which I miscalculated. That was how I had my accident. (ENGINE PUTTERS, REVS) (SOLEMN MUSIC) The feeling that I had initially
after the accident was like
water balloons — like, my legs felt like jelly. And I sorta lyin’ on my back and
just in panic mode, really; try to sit up and take my helmet off
and just could not sit up at all. One of the fusion was
fixed and stable, they said that, ‘It’s unlikely that
you’ll ever walk again,’ and for me,
that was quite heartbreaking. I thought it was just gonna be,
like, a sorta broken leg that
would mend and, you know, you’d get back on with your life. (SOLEMN MUSIC INTENSIFIES) For me, I think the mental side of
things was probably the toughest
thing. It was quite isolating.
Like, I didn’t know anybody in a
chair at all when I had my accident, so I went through quite
a depressive state. (COUGHS) Yeah, I think the biggest turning
point was the sport. I now had a new focus to concentrate
on rather than just the rehab. It was a chance for me to meet
other people in chairs and realise that they were just
normal people that had suffered
a life-changin’ injury, you know. As depression started to creep in,
Corey challenged himself. He’s an incomplete paraplegic so
believed there was potential to
gain some movement in his legs. So initially, I started
using parallel bars. You know, it might’ve only been
for 30 seconds or a minute, and that progression went to… tryin’ to use the crutches well,
which, obviously, had its obstacles
and lots of falls. But then there came a time where
there was enough strength in my legs
to start to use the crutches and stand from a sitting position
and… take a few steps. So it’s a bit weird, cos obviously,
having no feelin’ or sensation
below the knees, I don’t really know where my feet
are. So I have to watch every step
where I place the foot, otherwise I’ll probably
end up trippin’ up. (LOW, AMUSING MUSIC) But that wasn’t enough. In recent weeks he’s figured out
that the automatic acceleration
of an electric bike could offset the lack of
function in his legs. So I’ve been riding a bike now in
the gym for, you know, a couple of
years now, and I sorta thought, ‘Why not give it a try
on a real pushbike?’ And, yeah, it’s gonna be a bit of
trial and error, but we’ll see
how it goes. But he hasn’t told his
coach what he’s up to. Nah, so this a day off; this is
where we get up to all sorts.
(GENTLE CHUCKLING) They don’t see it until they see it.
And he doesn’t need to know. Yeah, so long as nothin’ bad goes
happen — you know, fall off,
get a bit road rash. This is my time, my private time. (CLICKING) (LOW, AMUSING MUSIC CONTINUES) Hang on. Hitch that over. Got it? Clip in. Obviously, it takes a lot of
balance and coordination, but I think once you get up
to speed, it should be fine. Yeah. Ready? He’s off, but in order to stop, he’ll have
to grab hold of a pole or a tree or crash. Basically, I’m riding the bike with
my hip flexors and my quads. In order to bring the pedal back
round, most able-bodied would
use a hamstring, but because I don’t really have
much hamstring working, I kind of hitch the pedal back up
with my hip flexor. And the way this bike is designed is
whatever power I put into the pedal, the motor kicks in and
assists you with it. (GENTLE CHATTER) It was good.
Yeah. (BIRD CAW) Aaron’s flatting with another
Paralympic hopeful, Sam Tate,
who was born with one malformed arm. Live in Luggate, just outta Wanaka — Luggate Life, we call it. But, yeah, it’s good times. SAM: It’s like you get up in the
morning, even though you might
be getting up really early; I kinda wait for Aaron
to get out the shower, and then I go and load the car while
Aaron faffs about, really. Yeah. On these skis. So we carpool and… do activities. If we get days off, like,
have a blowout now and again,
but, yeah, everything in moderation. MAN: Well, I think, you know, look,
they’re young men, and, you know,
they still have a good social life, but they just start making
good decisions. If you’re tired in the morning and
you’re tryin’ to ski at 80km/h to
120km/h, things generally don’t go well. So
they work out that pretty quickly, and then they work out when they
can, you know, go out and have a
late night, and they work out when they can’t. (SCRAPING) (LIGHT ELECTRONIC MUSIC) When he’s not training
on the mountain, Carl snatches time between school
pickups and helping with a newborn
to build his fitness. Yeah, I’ve got three kids —
a 6-year-old, 2-year-old
and a newborn, so I can spend a day training,
and I come home, and, you know, it’s back to normal
life of changing nappies and, you know, helping cook dinner
and clean the house. On top of that, being a Paralympic
sport, there’s not a lotta money; you know, sponsors are
hard to come by, so I have to work full-time, and I
run my own architectural business. He’s certainly chosen a tough path, but time management and
self-management is part of the skill
of being an elite athlete. Just plan the hell out of
everything, so how much time they’ve
got; what do they need to do? What’s a priority? Once they
know what that looks like, make sure that anyone around them
will understand what commitments
they have, and everyone gets on board and
supports them to deliver. (THUDDING, DOOR HINGES SQUEAK) (DOOR SHUTS) So, we have a day off today. What I’m looking at doing is doing
a bit of maintenance today on my
outriggers and lookin’ around town, goin’
to the local Wastebusters. These outriggers are very important
part for extra stability and then
extra control as well. So, I mean, they’re a really
important thing for me to be
able to use. Without these, I simply can’t ski. (LOW, INTRIGUING MUSIC) By international standards,
our athletes’ funding is modest. Adam’s a good farm boy, always
ready to improvise and find a cheap
solution to his technical needs. A wonderful recycling centre, this
is. As they say, one man’s trash
is another man’s treasure. I guess, over many years, I’ve found
many different things in this place. And the hunt continues. Been out here a few times in the
last few weeks since I came back
here and haven’t been able to find
a pair, so today’s my lucky day. Now to see what we can get them
for — 20 bucks, maybe. We’ll see. You won’t find Corey’s high-grade
sit-ski in any recycling barn. (THUDDING) Suspension’s really important for
our sport. So as you can see,
when I bounce on it, that’s really absorbin’ all the
terrain and bumps underneath
the ski. So, this is a few of my skis for the
season. Typically, I probably go
through five to six pairs a season. Because this is just a normal
able-bodied ski,… the amount of force, as in G forces,
that we put through… through that one ski — you know,
you’ve got the weight of the sit-ski
plus the weight of my body and then the amount of force
that comes through the turn — the skis aren’t really
designed for that. This season we’re also lookin’ at
how we can make this fairing
a lot more aerodynamic and whether or not we can kind of
have some sort of carbon-fibre
fairing through here. (GENTLE ELECTRIC GUITAR MUSIC) (ENGINE RUMBLES) PA: Welcome to Cardrona Alpine
Resort on Tuesday 24th of September. Cardrona is open today. Little bit of cloud around this
morning. So 1.5 degrees at base. Cardrona in New Zealand’s
South Island offers
world-class ski training, but it’s been a season of
unpredictable weather. With more international teams
booking time on the slopes, the Kiwi team is under pressure
to get enough training runs in. Oh, this season was a little bit
leaner on snow than we would’ve
wanted, so we’ve actually pushed back some
of the stuff that we would’ve been
doing earlier into this time now. But, yeah, we’d actually managed to
get a good block at the start of
the season, and then we went back into the gym
for the busy period during the
school holidays. So we’re on a schedule, and,
yeah, it’s part of ski racing. Obviously, working, keeping our body
up and running nice and stable; just keep thinkin’ as the rhythm
changes, just be really mindful of
what you need to do to adapt, you know, just keep up with it.
Yeah. Sounds good. The finest details of Adam’s skiing
are continuously reviewed in an effort to strip fractions
of seconds from each run. (TRAP MUSIC) So lot of it has come down to going
away and working on AFOs and my
outriggers. Then outside of that, it is, really,
refining my technique. You don’t own something until you do
it 10,000 times over and over and
over again. We’re tryin’ to gain any kind of
technical improvements we can, because, you know, races are
won by hundredths of seconds. It’s exactly like Formula One —
we’re always looking for those
minute gains, because that’s what wins races. Despite winning international
events, Carl’s never won
a Paralympic medal. With limited financial support,
he’s relying on sheer hard work
to deliver the results. Prosthetics is probably the biggest
change for some of the competitors. Some of them have got, like, shocks
built into the feet and things like
that now. I’ve just changed back to a standard
carbon-fibre Flex-Foot. I reckon sometimes it’s lifting my
heel out, cos it’s squashing that
down too much, and I’m trying to pack it up to
see if it made much difference. (DUBSTEP MUSIC) Some of the more heavily financed
teams, like USA, Canadian teams, they’ve got a little bit of
an advantage from that side, but, you know, if you’re willing to
put in the work as ‘a’ individual
athlete, like myself, you know, the end of the day, it’s
just snowboarding, so it’s whoever’s
the best snowboarder on the day. Faster high-speed rebound — when
it’s comin’ through the turn,
the ski’s pushin’ back, so it might just bite.
Yeah, that might be it, yeah.
We’ll have a… One of the biggest changes we’ve
made this season is my equipment. So I’ve been dealing with a company
back up in my hometown,
New Plymouth, and they’ve been a lot of
dyno testing with the suspension. Seven months out from the games,
that’s the timeframe that we have
for me to get that set up right and get me trustin’ it and
comfortable with it. The victory in Sochi has had
a massive impact on Corey. MAN: We’ve seen Corey grow from
being a wannabe to a world champion, and mentally, confidence —
unshakeable. His belief in his equipment,
his strength and his conditioning
in the gym is phenomenal. Everything that he’s doing at the
moment is just building on that
confidence. (TRAP MUSIC) What I’m tryin’ to achieve here is —
get from the top to the bottom as
fast as possible. In order to do that, just where I’m
starting the turn and the initiation
of the turn and when I’m finishing; it’s kinda like a flow-on effect,
and if you start to get that rhythm
goin’, then it’s easier to keep it. Crashing’s part of
the sport, I guess. I think as the years have gone on,
I’ve kind of learnt how to crash. There’s definitely a risk of injury
in snow sports and in ski racing,
but that’s a managed risk, and, I s’pose, as the joke amongst
the guys is, well, what’s the
worst that can happen? You might break your neck again,
and that’s a bit of a, you know… Well, yeah, you might,
but how bad’s that gonna be? (OPTIMISTIC ELECTRIC GUITAR MUSIC) MAN: Every nation is — we’re tryin’
to learn what they’re doing and try and make sure that
we’re better than them, and they’re lookin’ at us and tryin’
to make sure they’re better than us. We’ll find out in Korea
who got it right. CARL: The last sorta six months,
definitely tracking exactly
where I wanna be and looking really promising
for a gold medal. COREY: As I think ahead to
Pyeongchang, the added pressure
of comin’ home with medals, I wanna try and put that to the back
of my mind and concentrate on the
skiin’ and skiin’ fast. ADAM: To be able to represent your
country every four years at the
highest level possible is an honour and a privilege — get to be goin’ and have one
opportunity to bring back as
many medals as you possibly can. (PENSIVE SOFT-ROCK MUSIC) Captions by Shrutika Gunanayagam. Captions were made with
the support of NZ On Air. Copyright Able 2018

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