Lockey locked on podium finish at Paralympics

Rossland snowboarder Ian Lockey is set to ride at the World Cup in La Molina, Spain this weekend.

Rossland snowboarder Ian Lockey is set to ride at the World Cup in La Molina, Spain this weekend, but his sights are firmly set on the podium in Sochi.

Lockey realized his dream of competing at the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia on Jan. 29 when he was named to the Canadian Paralympic team.

“I was feeling stoked, but to be nominated comes the realization that all this hard work has been worthwhile,” said Lockey.

About 15 years ago, the Aukland native suffered a severed spinal-chord while snowboarding in New Zealand. It left Lockey with 50 per cent use of the muscles below the waist. Doctors told Lockey he would never walk let alone hit the slopes again, but after countless hours of rehabilitation,  determination, a move to Rossland, and a modified snowboard Lockey was back in action and has been riding with the Canadian snowboard team since 2008.

To stay in shape and compete at such a high-level, Lockey trains regularly at Red Mountain and with GetFocus Gym in Trail.

“We’ve been working really hard on my core, to make it as strong as it can possibly be to make up for what I don’t have.”

And his hard work has paid off. His results in the para-snowboarding World Cup races this season have been impressive. Lockey placed in the top-10 in every race he competed, riding to fifth in Colorado at Copper Mountain, and 10th and seventh at Big White two weeks ago. While he has yet to podium this year, Lockey is confident he can go faster, but until he is in the gate at Sochi, he  plans to exercise a measure of caution.

“I’ve been riding really good . . .  Obviously I know I can go faster, but I’m running with a little bit of self-control, and fear and respect for my body at the moment because I can lay it on the line, but then there is the possibility I might not make it to the bottom and won’t make it to Russia.”

With the World Cup finals in La Molina this weekend, Lockey along with teammates Tyler Mosher of Whistler and Ottawa’s John Leslie will use the race as a tune up for the real prize in Russia.

“I will be going there to put the final touches of what I’ve been working on all season,” he said. “There’s a couple of areas that need work, so rather than risking myself in other areas, I’ll work on what I need to work on.”

The former Kiwi became a Canadian citizen and says he is now prouder than anyone to wear the red and white.

“This is who I want to ride for. I’ve lived here (Rossland) for 12 years now and have got nothing but support from the people here and the establishment that has helped me get where I am.”

The 40-year-old snowboarder will also be part of history as para-snowboarding makes its debut at the Paralympics thanks to pioneers of the sport like Lockey, Mosher, and para-snowboarding head coach Candice Drouin.

“We are really looking forward to going back to Sochi,”coach Drouin told Canada Snowboard. “We had a great test event there last season. Our athletes are excited to showcase the sport and their skills to the world and it’s a great opportunity for para-athletes to build awareness so more people with a disability can learn about taking part in our sport.”

Para-snowboarding will likely garner a lot of attention in its debut at the Games and Lockey says he will try to enjoy both the scrutiny and the support.

Until then he will work hard to perfect his technique in hopes of achieving his next goal, a trip to the podium at the Paralympic Games.

“I know I can snowboard faster than anyone else, I’ve proved that time and again,” said Lockey. “I just have to make sure I’m standing up when I get to the bottom.”

The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games goes from Mar. 7-16. Men’s and women’s para-snowboard  will race in Sochi on Mar. 14. Go to www.ianlockey.com to lend your support.