Right after high school, Padilla headed north to Mount Baker where he lived in a camper and snowboarded everyday. He began to get noticed by sponsors and would spend 10 months out of the year travelling to different competitions.
Padilla stopped snowboarding to run his own construction company. On April 16, 2007, a two-story wall fell down on him. He broke nearly every rib and numerous vertebrae, punctured a long, and is now a T12 paraplegic.
Wheelchair sports didn’t excite Padilla. But he enjoyed working out and the strength advantage it gave him when he first stepped in a canoe, less than a year before the 2012 Team Trials. It didn’t hurt that Padilla was no stranger to competition.
“Any kind of competition is somewhat the same, you’re going up against somebody else,” Padilla said. “In snowboarding, everyone’s having a good time and enjoying the competition and feeding of each other, so I think that helps. I don’t get uptight in a competition situation.”
In his return to competitive sports, Padilla placed fourth in the Men’s K-1 Final, finishing nearly four seconds behind the bronze medal winner. Padilla also reached the Men’s V-1 Final.