Twelve Paralympic medals, five IPC Disabled World Cups, and one summit of Mount Kilimanjaro on a hand-cycle. For Chris Waddell, limits are for other people.
Waddell took up monoskiing after a ski accident left him paralyzed from the waist down in 1988. He holds medals from both winter and summer Paralympic Games, and retired from competitive racing in 2002. He is one of the Dalai Lama’s Unsung Heroes of Compassion. Did we mention People magazine thinks he’s one of the world’s most beautiful people?
SKI › You deal with the repercussions of injury every second of every day. How do you overcome your fear?
CW › “If you prepare enough and trust that your body will react instinctively, then the fear of hurting yourself won’t be so inhibiting. One of my downhill coaches would say, if you try to slow down when approaching a big bump at 60 mph, then you’re actually less prepared than you would be if you hadn’t.”
SKI › How do you feel about the pressure on athletes to always go bigger?
CW › “The more competitive the sport is, the further you have to push yourself. It becomes less of a battle against your own demons and more about your ability to make a living. You need to personally decide how far you want to push because there’s always going to be someone willing to push more.”
SKI › Why did you retire from racing?
CW › “The greater the risk, the smaller the margin of error. That’s the attraction. Risk is personal. I found myself in a position where I no longer wanted to risk everything. That was a little disappointing—not willing to risk everything.”