Canada Snowboard sat down with Para Snowboard team head coach, Mark Fawcett in Ucluelet, BC to discuss his history with the team and his unique aproach to off-season training.
Hometown: Rothesay, New Brunswick
Currently Living: Nelson, BC
Canada Snowboard: How did you start working with the Para Team?
Mark Fawcett: For a couple of years I always said that this Para-adaptive program that you have looks amazing I would love to get involved in any small way…I’d love to come to a camp. Then basically it happened very quickly a spot opened up and they said you want it? And it was a very easy decision for me I spoke to my wife about for like 4 minutes, I said I think this is a great gig and to work with a fresh set of athletes also new to high performance which was interesting to me. I met the team at Mt. Hood and actually had an introduction from the old program director as coach and we all got along really well.
CS: Walk me through the personalities that you’re working with right now.
MF: I think the big thing is that all these guys really want to be here…my guys love to snowboard and I feel that from the bottom of my gut they all are doing this for the right reasons.
CS: What’s the most common misconception with the Para-crew that you see on the slopes or out in public?
MF: I’ll tell you the biggest misconception we get, is that I’m coaching an able body team! I would have to say the ability of our guys to perform on the snow is the opposite of what you would think.
CS: So we’re here in Ucluelet, BC and you got the boys skating and surfing for the first time walk me through this as a training camp what did you expect to get out of this, and what was the reception you got from the crew?
MF: The big thing for me is that you’re not performing at a level of excellence if you’re inside your comfort zone no matter what you do and there’s no better way to get someone out of their comfort zone than to throw them in an ocean with waves and a big board and tell them to stand up on it and that’s whether you have some sort of physical impairment or not. You know it’s high challenge it can be uncomfortable, but it is extremely rewarding it only makes sense to me to try and put people out of their comfort zone in an applicable fashion to our end goal which is snowboarding, and sliding sideways on a board…if they can stand sideways on it and be way out of their comfort zone I’m happy.
CS: If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?
MF: Working at the snowboard shop selling split boards [laughs]
CS: Favorite shred movie of all time:
MF: Western Front, Fall Line Films.
Damian Sanders was way ahead of his time!
CS: Thanks Mark!
John Leslie is one of Canada's top performing Para Snow athletes, we sat down with him to discuss his career on snow, his goals for the future and share some stories of life with one leg.
Hometown: Arnprior, Ontario
Currently Living: Whistler, British Columbia
Canada Snowboard: Tell me your story
John Leslie: Ok, so in 2003 I was diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma, which is a type of bone cancer the same type as Terry Fox. I went through 5 months of chemotherapy treatments before my left leg was amputated below the knee. By the time my final surgery was done it was exactly one year after being diagnosed. Shortly after I was getting back into sports, biking, snowboarding, playing hockey, by the time I got to high school life was normal again.
CS: What were the initial thoughts when they told you; you were going to lose your leg?
JL: Losing my leg and going through this treatment has made me who I am today, It was knowing that my friends would still be my friends and that my parents would still love me, and that I was still going to be able to live a normal active lifestyle
CS: What’s your best result in snowboarding so far?
JL: 3rd place at the Para-World cup in Big White, there was a lot of good things about that day I knew I could get up on the podium, I was inspired to want to win on home soil and it was the first day they were picking for the Paralympic snowboard team so I felt pretty good standing up at the podium with the bronze.
CS: What do you think about the Canadian offseason training for snowboarding?
JL: Our major focus is the cross training, we have the best offseason training. It consists of downhill mountain biking, skateboarding, and surfing you can be in the best shape you want but if you don’t know how to ride a turn or where to look you’re going to be useless.
CS: What’s your ultimate goal in snowboarding?
JL: To always enjoy each day that I have on snow and to always be a leader in the sport and to make sure that I give back just as much as I have taken away.
CS: What’s the best thing about working with Mark Fawcett?
JL: The stoke factor is always at 12 he’s always pumped, he’s always happy…he’s a great overall dude!
CS: What do you see in the future for Para snowboarding?
JL: In ten years when I’m looking back on it I would love to see this program with 3 events at the Paralympics for snowboarding with 5 people on the Canadian national team, 5 people on the development team and I want to see it getting bigger every year.
CS: Favourite shred movie of all time?
JL: Flavour Country
CS: Thanks John!