We first introduced Patrick as a member of the Sego Team this past fall with this epic video we captured of him skiing a steep roadside couloir next to the Beartooth Pass Highway. Patrick has spent the last several years climbing to the top of the disabled ski racing world. We gave Patrick a call last week to catch up as he departed from Los Angeles to represent Team USA in the Standing Giant Slalom and Standing Slalom events in the Paralympics in Beijing. Since then he's proudly returned with a 13th place in the Standing Slalom, and a mid-pack finish in the standing GS. Imagine being top 13 in the world at something: What an animal.
"I compete in GS and Slalom on March 9, and 11th. It's on NBC, and if you stream it on Peacock you can run it in slow motion which will be better because you'll actually be able to see me."
"My first exposure to ski racing was 6 years ago. I was hanging out at a McDonald's in New Zealand, just using the free wifi and looking for a job and a place to live in Queenstown. A Subaru pulled up with a photo of a guy on the side of it and he had theses out riggers which are the ski poles I ski with - they're like crutches with skis on the bottom. So, straight from the game of GNAR I went up to the car and said, "Who is this guy on the side of your Subaru?" And the girl who was driving says, "Oh, it's my husband." So I was like, " I can't believe he's a pro. I'm way better than that guy.
She ended up being an American National Team Disabled Skier from years ago, and she thought it was hilarious. They invited me over for dinner and I met her husband, Adam Hall, a Paralympic Champion from New Zealand. I met their whole family, had a great barbecue on the the other side of the planet and they told me about a disabled ski team in Winter Park, Colorado. I was like, alright, I'll see you guys there next year."
"I knew that I wanted to make the Paralympics and I had been trying all these different Paralympic Sports. Skiing stuck out because you could just have fun outside of competition - the community was there and my family loves it, so I could go with them. The whole town I grew up in, the blue collar workers skied and raced beer league and they're just great people. So, I just fell in love with that aspect."
"I've worked at Mount Snow, Vermont in the ticket booth, I worked at Selland Snow Fields in the info booth and rentals, I've been a liftie at Mount Snow the second year, I worked at the Remarkables fitting chains on car tires for four years and I work Race Crew now at Winter Park."
"I get to do a lot of the announcing for the kids' events which is so fun because as long as your voice is boring enough you can say anything. If a kid crashes you get a little bit of time to do some ad-libbing. It can take like 30 seconds to fix the gate and clean this dead kid off the course. So, I'll say over the loud speaker "And remember kids, if you fail at first, that could be your thing." Or, "Sometimes it takes people their whole life to figure out what their thing is, and you figured it out here today - it's failure."