Tyler Carter celebrates after competing in the super combined slalom run at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 7, 2022 in Beijing.
BEIJING – In his last run down the “The Rock” at the National Alpine Centre at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, Tyler Carter sailed under the finish gate and immediately put his face in his hands.
He bent down, hunched over. Tears began to roll down his cheeks.
Yet he was grinning.
His final Paralympic run.
More than 12 years of sacrifices — all for seconds on the slopes — had come to a close.
Carter is only 28, yet his career as a standing skier spanned three Paralympic Winter Games and a decade worth of world cups. The Pennsylvania native was unable to make it down the hill for two of his four events in Beijing, but the “one-legged Captain America,” as he refers to himself, said getting to his final Games was an accomplishment in itself. He was plagued by injuries and countless setbacks the past few years, in addition to having to balance a full-time job as a guest experience supervisor at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“To be able to make these Games and come out and race in four events — it wasn’t my best skiing ever — and give it my heart and my all was great,” Carter said. “It’s an honor to be here and you can’t ask for anything more. I’m so blessed to have been able to do this for so long.
“I didn’t think I’d make one Games, let alone three. Some people grow up wanting to be an Olympian or Paralympian. It didn’t happen for me until I went to Vancouver to spectate the Games. To have made it this far, and knowing this was my last and being able to truly enjoy every run and moment, not everyone gets to do that and go out on their own terms, but I got to do it.”
The seeds were set in Carter’s Paralympic journey a dozen years ago. The native of Topton, Pennsylvania, who had his right leg amputated as an infant after being born without a fibula, was invited to Vancouver to watch the 2012 Paralympic Winter Games as part of the Paralympic Experience Vancouver delegation for young student athletes. Watching from the stands, he was inspired to become a competitive skier. Coaches at the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, Colorado, saw potential in Carter and recruited him to pursue it.