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Four Para snowboarders to represent Canada at Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games

OTTAWA – An exciting team of four accomplished Para snowboarders are set to race for Canada at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games next month, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Canada Snowboard confirmed on Thursday.

Canada’s Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games Para snowboard team is:  
1.    Lisa DeJong – Biggar, SK
2.    Sandrine Hamel – Saint-Sauveur, QC
3.    Alex Massie – Barrie, ON
4.    Tyler Turner – Campbell River, BC

Sandrine Hamel and Alex Massie are returning members from the 2018 Paralympic team, while Lisa DeJong and Tyler Turner will be making their debuts after successfully blasting onto the international scene in the past year.

Most recently, the foursome engineered the country’s best ever world championships showing just last month, coming home with a combined eight medals – three gold, three silver, and two bronze – at the World Para Snow Sports Championships in Lillehammer, Norway, including sweeping the first-ever women’s and men’s team events. The team has one event remaining before Beijing, racing at the Big White World Cup in British Columbia February 11 and 12.

“Our Para snowboard team continues to take its place among the best in the world,” said Dustin Heise, CEO, Canada Snowboard. “Each of the athletes has progressed through dedication and perseverance to become a medal threat in every event they enter. They all have incredible personalities, stories, and are amazing ambassadors for Canada, Canada Snowboard, and the values we live by. We couldn’t be prouder to have them representing Canada, and showcasing to the world their talent. They’re an inspiration and have a tremendous opportunity to make history as the first Canadian contingent to bring home a medal in Para snowboarding.”

Hamel, who competes in the women’s LL2 classification, made an impressive debut at her first Paralympic appearance in PyeongChang, posting two fifth-place finishes. The 24-year-old has been a rising star ever since, firmly ensconcing herself as a contender at the 2019 world championships with two silver medals before also picking up a team gold and banked slalom bronze at the 2022 edition.

“​​It’s definitely been a lot of hard work, and with COVID it’s been challenging,” said Hamel. “But we’re lucky to be Canadian; we’ve got such a great environment to train here at home, and we’re so grateful for the efforts of all the coaches and staff at Canada Snowboard to make sure we could train, and thankful for such a supportive family and friends, it makes such a difference for us.”

DeJong’s rapid rise in the sport saw her make her international debut just this season. A recreational snowboarder since she was a child, the now 32-year-old discovered Para snowboard only a few years ago and became a member of Canada’s NextGen team in 2020. Due to a dearth of competition opportunities since then, DeJong wasn’t able to race at a World Cup until late 2021. She has already proven she belongs, winning two individual silvers and teaming with Hamel to take gold in the women’s team competition at the world championships. Like Hamel, DeJong is a racer in the women’s LL2 category.

“It’s been a journey just to get here,” said DeJong. “It has taken sacrifice for myself and especially my family for me to get to this point. It is so rewarding to wake up every day and do what I love and the fact that my girls [daughters] get to see this is great!”

Similar to DeJong, Turner is a newcomer to the Para snowboard world but has been making a splash in his few events so far. The 33-year-old picked up a victory in his first ever World Cup race in Colere, Italy in April 2021 before rocketing to the title of world champion less than a month ago, winning Canada’s first gold medal at the World Para Snow Sports Championships in January, in the men’s LL1 snowboard cross. He added another gold in the team event and a bronze in banked slalom.

“I am so excited to compete for Canada in the Paralympics,” said Turner. “It’s been a long four years for me to get here, not just training to be at an elite level, but it was four years ago that I was learning how to walk again. I am beyond proud of what I’ve accomplished in four years! I hope I ride the way I know I can and take a shot at the podium in Beijing.”

Massie, age 26, has been one of Canada’s top Para snowboarders since first joining the national team in 2015. He earned a bronze medal at his first world championships in 2015, and has posted several podiums at World Cup events since then. He became a Paralympian in 2018, with his top finish in PyeongChang 10th in the men’s LL2 banked slalom. At the worlds last month, he claimed silver in the banked slalom along with gold in the team event with Turner.

“I’m expecting everyone to leave it all out on the course,” said Massie. “Gold, silver, bronze or 10th, as long as we give it our all the result will feel good. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s a dream come true to represent Canada.”

Beijing 2022 will be the third Paralympic Games in which the sport of Para snowboard will be contested after being added to the program in 2014. Canada is looking for its first podium finish, with its top result a fourth-place in the women’s LL1 snowboard cross by Michelle Salt in 2018.

There are two Para snowboard events at the Paralympic Winter Games: snowboard cross and banked slalom. In Beijing, the snowboard cross is set to take place March 6 (qualification) and March 7 (finals) followed by the banked slalom March 12.

“I am so thrilled to welcome these four incredible Para snowboarders to the team,” said Josh Dueck, chef de mission, Beijing 2022 Canadian Paralympic Team. “Sandrine and Alex have been steady forces of success for Canada for the past several years, and are primed to build upon their first Games experience from four years ago. It has also been so exciting to see Lisa and Tyler find their place on the international scene so early in their careers and deservedly qualifying for their first Paralympics. This is a team that is ready to compete in Beijing, and I can’t wait to cheer them on!”

The Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games will take place March 4-13, 2022 in China. Canada is expecting to send a team of approximately 50 athletes, and audiences across the country will be able to follow all the action live through coverage from the Canadian Paralympic Media Consortium, including broadcast partners CBC/Radio-Canada, AMI, and Sportsnet, and digital partners Twitter, Facebook, and MXZN.

CLICK HERE to see the complete list of athletes currently named to the Canadian Paralympic Team. The Canadian Paralympic Committee will announce the official full team set to compete closer to the Games.

Story and Photo courtesy of the Canadian Paralympic Committee.