Noah Elliott and his daughter, Skylar, pose for a photo.
This Father’s Day will mark nearly eight years since Noah Elliott, a two-time Paralympic medalist in snowboarding, became a dad.
He welcomed his daughter, Skylar, into the world when he was just 15 years old — and only a few months before he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma bone cancer.
“My life changed tremendously,” said Elliott, 22. “There were a lot of things happening at that time, and for me when she was born, it immediately flipped the switch for me. It really helped me drive more for my success and my goals because I wasn’t only doing it for myself, I was also doing it for my daughter.”
Elliott’s parents and three sisters helped him put Skylar to bed at night during his teenage years, when he was fighting for his life, often throwing up in the corner of his room at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. It was during that nearly 10-month hospital stay that he saw the Paralympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 on TV and his Paralympic dream was born.
After surviving cancer, he moved from Missouri to Utah, where he worked two jobs and learned how to snowboard, starting a GoFundMe page to help support his dream. By the age of 20, he found himself on the podium for Team USA at the Paralympic Games PyeongChang 2018, where he won a gold medal in the banked slalom and bronze in snowboardcross just one year after joining the national team and three after having his left leg amputated above the knee. Then, last year at his world championship debut in Finland, he won the snowboardcross
competition after falling in the qualifying round and took silver in the banked slalom.
Elliott has also done public speaking, worked as the program coordinator for an adaptive program in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and serves as an ambassador for Wiggle Your Toes, an organization to help amputees get back to leading the life they want. And he has done it all while taking care of Skylar, who has served as his inspiration throughout.
“Being a girl dad has changed my life,” Elliott said. “I really try to teach her anything and everything I can. It’s truly amazing because not only do I get to share things that I love with her like skateboarding, snowboarding, motorcycling, outdoors, nature, hiking, animals, surfing, the ocean, but she’s always teaching me things. I think that’s the most important piece about being a father or any parent — actually getting to learn from your child and living through their eyes, too.”
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Noah Elliott and daughter, Skylar, pose for a photo with his Paralympic medals.
Elliott encourages Skylar to keep her glass half full every day so that she can ultimately become a leader in her community when she grows up.
With ski and snow resorts now closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Elliott has been able to spend more time with his daughter taking long walks and hiking in the back country mountains in Colorado.
His training schedule, albeit limited at the moment, allows him to appreciate all of his family more and reflect on what impact his actions have on others.
“What’s really helped me is taking hard times and doing a self-evaluation and really learning about what goals I wanted to pursue or how I could better my community or my career path,” he said. “By doing that self-review and tuning into what I need to do to get to where I need to be, that’s a good time to focus on those things so you can really go out and attack and be motivated for the next segment of your life.”
The next segment of Elliott’s life is the road to the Beijing 2022 Games, where he believes viewers will see a noticeable change in Para snowboarding, from the skill of the athletes to the number of countries taking part.
His personal goal for Beijing is quite simple.
“I think Beijing’s going to be my time to get on the podium and get two golds,” he said.
Stuart Lieberman covered Paralympic sports for three years at the International Paralympic Committee, including at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.