U.S. Paralympics Sno... Features Para Snowboarder Amy...

Para Snowboarder Amy Purdy Announces Retirement From The Sport She Helped Shape

By Ryan Wilson | March 21, 2022, 10:51 a.m. (ET)

Amy Purdy at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo: Mark Reis)

Amy Purdy, a pioneering and medal-winning Para snowboarder who has also been influential in the sport’s growth, has officially retired from competition.


“It really has mixed emotions,” Purdy, 42, told USParaSnowboarding.org. “I have had an incredible career, and I have taken Paralympic snowboarding as far as it can go. I have done everything except win a gold medal at the Games, but my career has been absolutely incredible.”


Purdy’s competitive career stretches across two Games — Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018 — and has earned her three Paralympic medals. However, due to injuries she has not competed in recent years, and her involvement in the recent Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 was an analyst for NBC.


“Adaptive and Paralympic snowboard has just been a massive part of my career, and to kind of shut that chapter and move forward, it really is, to be honest, a feeling of gratitude,” she said.


Purdy’s decision comes after sustaining a left leg injury that resulted in several surgeries and medical complications over the course of the last three years. This injury forced Purdy to relearn how to walk again.


The motivated Purdy said there were points during her recovery in which she felt a desire to return to snowboarding.


“There was definitely a period of time when I got fired up, thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, now I really want to go back. Now I’ve got to prove to myself again that I can do this,’” she said.


Ultimately it was not to be.


The Paralympic champ said retirement had been on her mind since competing at PyeongChang 2018, and her injury only solidified her decision to step away.


“If I’m being honest, I’m not sure I would have gone back to compete in Beijing, even if I wasn’t injured,” Purdy said. “I was very satisfied with the career I’ve had with the Paralympic Games.”


Purdy said retiring allows her to focus on projects she has not had time for, including a jewelry line and a book.


After wrapping up her NBC duties for the Beijing Games, Purdy said she planned to turn her attention to her corporate motivational speaking work, which has picked up the last two years with her engagements going virtual. Those engagements have since returned to being in person, she said.


“I’ve done quite a few live speeches over the last few months, and I’m really excited to be stepping back into that part of my life,” she said.


And, of course, she will also continue supporting Adaptive Action Sports, which she and her husband, Daniel Gale, founded in 2005. The non-profit is based out of Copper Mountain, Colorado, and provides sporting opportunities for people with physical disabilities.


Purdy and AAS were instrumental in getting snowboarding added to the Paralympic Winter Games in 2014, and the organization has remained influential in the years since.


Five AAS snowboarders were named to the U.S. team for the Beijing Games. Some of those athletes, like Zach Miller, have lived with Gale and Purdy to reduce the cost of pursuing a career in snowboarding. That kindness, Miller said, has led to him seeing Gale and Purdy as family.


The feeling is mutual on Purdy’s end.


“I feel like I can help more people now,” said Purdy, who noted that the ultimate goal for AAS is to improve the lives of its athletes. “I feel like I can be a bigger voice now, not being an athlete. Because when you’re an athlete, you’re just hyper focused on your performance and your training.”


Paralympic snowboarding has continued to grow since Purdy and others helped get it added to the Games. After the Paralympic program initially included just men’s and women’s snowboardcross events in 2014, it has since expanded to include a banked slalom event, as well as more snowboardcross classifications.


From the start, Team USA has been a leader in the sport. After Americans won four more medals, including one gold, at the Beijing Games, Team USA now has 21 Paralympic snowboarding medals — more than twice as many as the next best country.


Of everything Purdy has done in the sport, it’s that legacy that will continue to have an impact for years, and generations, to come.


“When I look back, we were able to create something out of nothing — it didn’t exist,” she said. “Paralympic snowboarding didn’t exist when I lost my legs. I didn't even know any other snowboarders who had prosthetic legs early on. … My dream was to snowboard.


“Then I met all of these people whose dream was to snowboard, as well. Collectively, we got snowboarding into the Paralympic Games.”

Ryan Wilson

Ryan Wilson is a freelance contributor to USParaSnowboarding.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.