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More Than An Inspiration: U.S. Para Snowboarder Noah Elliott

By Lisa Costantini | Jan. 24, 2022, 3 p.m. (ET)

Noah Elliot celebrates after the men's snowboard LL1 finals at the 2022 World Para Snow Sports Championships on Jan. 14, 2022 in Lillehammer, Norway.


Para athletes are inspiring, yes, and they are brave. But they are also not too different. They have bills to pay, kids to look after and jobs to do. Sometimes, if they’re fortunate, their only job is competing for Team USA. But more often than not, that is just one of the many plates they juggle, all while trying to be the best in the world.

U.S. para snowboarder Noah Elliott is one of many athletes trying to do it all.

Growing up in Missouri, Elliott spent most of his time at the skate park, but nagging pain in his knee led his mom to take him to the doctor at 16 years old. He was then diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of cancer that starts in the bones.

While recovering in the hospital after his left leg was amputated a year later, he came across the Paralympic Games Sochi 2014 on television. Soon after, the boy who had never been on a snowboard headed to Colorado on a trip for kids with cancer. One of the first athletes he met? Fellow Team USA para snowboarder Brenna Huckabee, who just happened to be a fellow osteosarcoma survivor.

“I would not have had the opportunities that I have had on Team USA had I not gone through the things that I went through,” Elliott said. Losing his leg might seem unlucky to some, but to him, it “enabled me to figure out who I wanted to be, and who I could be with this new situation.”

It turned out that person was a professional adaptive snowboarder.

“But like everyone, we have good days and bad days. We’re all just trying to better ourselves and chase our dreams,” Elliott said.

Because of his story, “I get called inspiring a lot,” the 24-year-old shared.

“The other one I get is thank you for your service. People automatically assume if you have a prosthetic and look anywhere from 18 years old and up that you’re in the military.

“It’s always awkward because you don’t know what to say. If you say, hey, I wasn’t actually in the service, there’s a 50/50 chance that they’re going to be mad. So usually I say, okay, thank you — have a good day, and I keep moving.”

But even with all of that, the 2018 Paralympian said he’s not all that different from anyone else. “My reality is I’m a single father, and I work multiple jobs to make this work,” he said. “You know, I’m one of the best Paralympic snowboarders on the circuit, and I’m still struggling financially.

Noah Elliot competes during the men's snowboard LL1 finals at the 2022 World Para Snow Sports Championships on Jan. 14, 2022 in Lillehammer, Norway.


Based just outside Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Elliott relies on his mom to help with his eight-year-old daughter when he has to travel for work.

“It’s crazy. I have to work just as hard as everyone else — if not harder — to be able to do what I’m doing," Elliot said. "If that turns out to be inspiring, that’s awesome. But we are normal people who have to make sacrifices just like everyone. I have to sacrifice time away from my family to put food on the table.”

Thanks to his prosthetic leg, the 2018 Paralympian is used to having people look at him — and up to him — but he said most people don’t realize that para athletes get inspired, too.

For the two-time medalist, he finds inspiration in his daughter, Skylar.

A couple of years ago, when his daughter was six, Elliott put her on snow and started to teach her the basics of snowboarding. He said it helped him rediscover and fall back in love with snowboarding in the process.

“I was inspired by seeing her fall and commit and fall and commit,” he said, a feeling he remembered from his early days on a skateboard — the sport he first grew to love, long before his cancer diagnosis.

“There’s a certain level of character that gets built through sport,” Elliott said, “and when you watch someone become more confident in their everyday life because of it, it’s truly inspiring.”

“It’s so cool to hop a chairlift with your son or daughter, and go to the top, strap in and ride down together. When you’re riding, and you look over at your kid shredding, it’s one of the coolest feelings ever,” said the dad about watching someone he loves conquer a sport that he loves.

“Snowboarding has made a huge impact on her as a person,” he shared. “She’s more confident when she goes out, and she’s more willing to try stuff. That’s all thanks to snowboarding.”

Skylar’s dad has been showing similar confidence on the snow these days, racking up his first world championship win on the inaugural day of Para snowboard finals at the 2021 World Para Snow Sports Championships earlier this month in Lillehammer, Norway.

Calling this season “one like never before,” Elliott hopes to punch his ticket to Beijing — where he plans to add to his gold and bronze medal when the Paralympic Games Beijing 2022 begin on March 4, 2022.

Lisa Costantini

Lisa Costantini is a freelance writer based in Orlando. She has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications, and has contributed to TeamUSA.org since 2011.

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Noah Elliott