Whitehorse’s Darryl Tait is in Denver preparing for the fulfillment of a journey spanning many years.
The 23-year-old will be competing at the X Games, the Olympics of extreme sports, Jan. 24-27 in Aspen, Colo.
“It’s a childhood dream come true,” said Tait. “It’s pretty cool.”
Tait will be racing in adaptive snocross, a snowmobile racing category for paraplegics and riders with other physical disabilities.
Snocross is basically like motocross on snowmobiles.
“I’ve been training here in Denver with a personal trainer for about two weeks and I’ve acclimatized myself, so now we’re going to a cabin at a higher altitude so I can train up there,” said Tait. “Then when I go back down into Aspen, breathing should be no problem.”
Tait became a paraplegic in an accident while attempting to qualify for the X Games in October 2009. During a practice session at New Hampshire’s annual Grass Drags, Tait was performing a flip – a trick he completed many times before – when his snowmobile’s engine stalled, slowing his rotation, and his quarter-ton machine came down on him.
Though he hoped to snowmobile in the freestyle competition at the X Games years ago, racing snocross isn’t out of the blue.
Tait raced in snocross in the Northwest Territories circuit before his accident and took in numerous wins in the semipro class.
“When I moved back to the Yukon, I got more into freestyle, tried to pursue that and had my accident,” said Tait.
“I’ve had some experience with racing, so it’ll be fun to get back out on the track and chase some people down.”
In his first competition since 2009, Tait placed seventh in the 700cc class at the Sima Uphill Challenge in Whitehorse last April. He would have placed higher, but was unable to continue racing when his custom sled’s seat broke.
He was nonetheless awarded the King of the Hill Trophy at the event for his indomitable spirit.
During the summer months, Tait started competing in handcycling and WCMX (wheelchair motocross).
In June he placed second at Canada’s first-ever WCMX event, the 9Lives No Limits Adaptive Skate Comp in Burnaby, B.C. He then snagged seventh at the Shoe City Open hosted by Life Rolls On at Venice Beach in Los Angeles.
He also won the handcycling division at the Tour of Juneau in Alaska last August.
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