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Golfer By Summer, Alpine Skier By Winter, Chris Biggins Finds Strength In Season

By Ryan Wilson | Nov. 02, 2020, 11:03 a.m. (ET)

Chris Biggins hopes to win medals in Paralympic medals in both skiing and golf some day.

 

Disabled golfer and standing Para Alpine skier Chris Biggins is working on his fears.

As a matter of fact, he works on separate fears in these sports.

“The fear in golf is a fear of messing up, making bogeys and bad shots,” he said. “The fear in skiing is actually hurting yourself and killing yourself.”

Biggins has been playing disabled golf since he was a kid. He attended Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and he has now worked his way up to ninth on the World Amateur Golf Ranking for golfers with a disability.

He has noticed the sport grow nationally and internationally, and, as such, the quality of play has risen.

“As that grows, my interest in the game has grown, and so many others, because we see how big disabled people golf can be,” he said.

With golf making its Olympic debut in 2016, Biggins said he hopes disabled golf lands a shot in the Paralympic Games one day. Golf was considered for the Paralympic Games Paris 2024, but was not chosen. Biggins said the sport may need to establish its own world cup system commonly used in elite international sports. Its ranking system only debuted last year.

“I think it’s time we get on the big stage and at least get a shot to show the big organizations that golf should be in the Paralympics or at least on the global stage,” Biggins, a PGA club professional, said. “It’s been a pretty cool thing to watch.”

Yet, at the same time, there is one element of golf he would prefer to change: It’s a little too calm for his preference.

Enter Para Alpine skiing.

“Skiing is a lot more aggressive.”

Biggins found Para Alpine skiing at the Hartford Ski Spectacular in Breckenridge, Colorado. The Ski Spectacular helps disabled people get into winter sports. While Biggins skied with his family in his early years, he said he thought Para Alpine skiing was for people who were paralyzed until attending the Ski Spectacular.

“My college roommate and I were talking, and he goes, ‘Chris, you ski. Why don’t you give that a shot,” Biggins, a senior in college at the time, said. “My college golf career was about to end, and he knew I wanted to compete.”

A couple months later, Biggins called the National Ability Center (NAC) in Park City, Utah. He wanted to take the sport seriously, and he knew the NAC was the place to do just that.

“I knew I was going to come in there as a rookie, and I was going to stink,” he said. “I accepted that, and my goal was to get better each year.”

Biggins has cerebral palsy (CP). It affects his muscles and coordination. Prior to skiing, he had lower back issues and pain and muscle spasticity, and he said his legs were weak. He also has problems with his balance.

Skiing at the NAC meant he was on the ski slope all day, starting early in the mornings until the afternoons. This training regimen, coupled with an overall fast sport, led to dramatic growth in his life outside of sport. He felt improvement in his back, balance and lower body.

Now he competes in golf and skiing at the same time. When it is skiing season, he will focus on solely that sport, and vice versa. After four months of a skiing season, he said he is stronger and better prepared for his golf season.

“Skiing always raises the ceiling in my physical abilities,” he said. “I am spending my all day, every day working out on the mountain pushing legs to the limit.”

Biggins said he appreciates the difference between his winter and summer sports.

“I have a complaint in both sports,” he said. “In golf, you can’t get pumped up, you have to stay calm, and I miss that. In skiing, you get pumped up, but everything lasts from a minute to a minute and a half.”

The multi-sport athlete said he only recently started getting injuries in skiing. Most recently, he crashed in Winter Park, Colorado, last year, and he had to be carted off the course. He also has had complications from concussions.

“You have to buy into, ‘You’re probably going to get hurt if you’re going to be a ski racer,’” he said. “It’s how you bounce back, you can’t be scared of it.”

He added: “If you’re ever afraid of getting hurt, then you’re going to be more hesitant and stiff. That’s when you’re going to fall.”

He has not been injured once playing golf.

Ryan Wilson

Ryan Wilson is a writer and independent documentary filmmaker from Champaign, Illinois. He is a freelance contributor to USParaAlpineSkiing.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.