Tyler Carter poses for a photo during Jan. 2019 in Winter Park, Colo. Photo courtesy of USA Paralympic Alpine Skiing.
The Journey of an Athlete
Not many people know how long and difficult the journey of becoming an athlete is. It demands everything from you with only the smallest chance of success. It is equally an unrelenting grind and something that you can never stop thinking about. It is with those thoughts in mind I approach my attempt at making a third and final Paralympic Team for the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
I would have thought that after skiing for nearly 20 years and racing for 15 years, including competing at two previous Paralympic Games in 2014 and 2018, things would be a little easier. That hasn’t been the case.
The past three years have been the hardest of my life. They have been plagued with injuries and countless setbacks. It hasn’t been easy to keep up the grind. Most would look at success as winning a medal, preferably being gold. That is the ultimate goal. That is my goal. I dream about it every night and it burns in my thoughts as I train.
However, I have learned over the years that success can and often should mean more. It is giving 100% of your effort. Doing your absolute best, no matter what form that takes. At the end of the day. if I can look back and say I did everything possible and left it all on the field (or slopes), then I was successful.
My Biggest Hope
If it is not apparent yet, my biggest hope and goal is to make the 2022 Beijing Paralympic Team. It is what drives and motivates me every day. But beyond that it is exciting to look at how the Paralympics have grown. The Olympics have been around forever, with the Ancient Games starting in 776 B.C., Modern Olympic Games revived in 1896, and the Winter Olympic Games debuting in 1924.
The Paralympics, in comparison, officially began in 1960 for summer and 1976 for winter. With the Paralympics being newer, it has taken time to develop and become known. With each Games, we see increased viewership, interest, and new athletes introduced into sport. It is an exciting time to be following the Paralympics and I look forward to how Beijing continues this trend.
World and USA rankings have always determined the The U.S. Paralympic Games Teams for Alpine Skiing. This is true again this season, but there is a little twist - all Para Snow Sports have World Championships in Lillehammer, Norway this month, January 2022, after being postponed last season.
In my career, I have never had World Championships and a Paralympic Games in the same season. In normal circumstances the World Championship are the season prior or the season after a Games. This allows time for athletes to reassess and adjust. All of that is out the window this time around, meaning those who perform well in January will likely punch a ticket to Beijing.
It’s wild that 3.5 years of training will come down to one month of racing. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous or anxious but also mixed with a sense of excitement. It’ll be great to be racing internationally again and having all Para Snow Sports together for a huge event is incredible for the movement. Plus, I have always wanted to visit Norway!