Day 13 Recap: At his first real competition since accident, rookie wins Canada Games para-alpine silver
By Dan Plouffe
The first day James Budrow got back on skis following the amputation of his foot, he figured he’d go for one run, hopefully learn what he’d need to do to adapt to skiing with a prosthesis so he could get back into the sport he loved, and then come back another day to try again.
“We didn’t pack a lunch or anything,” recalls Budrow, who wound up taking eight trips up and down the hill on his first-day experiment. “That’s no big deal for me now, but for that time, it was eight times more than what me and my dad both originally thought it would be. It went really well, and in those first few turns, it felt surprisingly normal.”
On Father’s Day 2020, Budrow was visiting his grandparents at their large country property for the first time in awhile after COVID struck. He was riding a side-by-side that resembles a golf cart but is intended for farm work use.
“I was zipping around on this thing, and it’s not really meant for sport, and it rolled over onto me. With gravity, it came down on my foot and crushed it,” recounts Budrow, who was thankful he at least had his phone with him to call for help and that he wasn’t trapped.
The injury was severe, and after nine days in hospital, Budrow’s family and medical team had a decision to make.
“Either we can try and save your foot, but you might be able to walk in a couple years at best, or you can amputate and see what path that’ll take you down,” explains the the Grade 12 John McCrae Secondary School student. “So that’s what we chose, and yeah, now I’m here.”
“Here” is the 2023 Canada Winter Games alpine skiing competition at Crabbe Mountain outside Fredericton, N.B., though it took some time for Budrow to get into racing.
After getting through seven additional surgeries and six more weeks in hospital to treat a surgical site infection, Budrow connected with contacts in the parasport community that the War Amps and hospital had given him. He eventually got to meet Paralympic runners and hockey players, who encouraged him to explore new opportunities in adaptive sport given that he was used to being active in running, swimming, hockey, golf, dirt biking and skiing.
“Parasport can help you hit a bit of a restart button. If you enjoy it, pick a sport and see how far you can take it,” was the message the Paralympians gave him, he remembers.
Budrow tried his hand at several parasports, though COVID often made it difficult to access some opportunities.
“Skiing was really the one I wanted to push on,” he notes, and it was also an activity he could do relatively safely. “I’ve skied all my life and will continue to ski for as long as I can.”
Budrow’s hugely successful first day back on the slopes “helped me make the decision that skiing was the right one,” he highlights. “When I compare it to being back on skates for the first time, riding my dirt bike for the first time, running and biking, they all felt a little different and some went better than others, but skiing really put a smile on my face. It felt right.”
Budrow spent last season getting back into skiing recreationally before he began training this year with the Calabogie Peaks U18 team, the Ontario Para-Alpine Ski Team and Canadian Adaptive Snowsports federation.
The rookie’s first competitive race came in early February at the Ontario Winter Games in Renfrew County, where he was the only athlete entered in his class.
That made the Canada Winter Games just his second competition, and the first time he’d be racing against others. In his debut on Wednesday, Budrow did not finish the giant slalom course.
“I wanted to learn,” Budrow says of his pre-Games objectives. “If that meant winning, great, but if it meant going hard and crashing out both days, that’s OK as long as I was learning.”
Turns out Budrow is a quick learner. In his second race, he ended up in second place – the proud new owner of a national silver medal.
“I’m pretty happy with it,” signals Budrow, who’d already considered the event a win since it offered essentially his first opportunity to connect with a bunch of parasport peers.
“Being able to not only meet them, but watching them ski as well as competing with them, it’s been fun,” he adds.
B.C.’s Matthew Leach was the class of the eight-athlete Canada Games field, winning the two-run event in a combined time of 2:13.29. Budrow held off the third and fourth place skiers from Nova Scotia and B.C. by .68 and 1.3 seconds respectively with his 2:28.59 clocking. Para alpine skiers with various disabilities have their times adjusted based on the severity of their impairment in order to compete with one another on a level playing field.
“Everyone was really, really close,” notes Budrow. “It truly was just like on TV where you’re watching and it’s a matter of tenths and hundredths of seconds. It was a proper race with other parasport athletes. It was a really, really cool experience.”
Budrow says his Canada Games performance “gives me a bunch of confidence” and has helped provide a starting point to gauge what may be possible in his young career.
“I want to see how far I can take it,” underlines the 17-year-old. “If that means the provincial level, then I’ll be happy with that. But if that means I can get to the national level and maybe even the international level, I definitely have those kind of goals in mind.
“But just one step at a time right now, kind of like getting back on skis for the first time.”
Double-bronze winner 4th in final race
It’s no wonder double-bronze medallist Luka McKinlay had a difficult time securing his place on Quebec’s alpine ski team for the Canada Winter Games…
After sweeping places 1-6 in the opening-day super-g, Team Quebec had all seven of their skiers in all seven of the top positions after the first run of the male slalom event yesterday at Crabbe Mountain.
Ontario’s Jasper Williams managed to give justification to holding the Canada Games separately from the Quebec team trials when he jumped into seventh after the second run, but Quebec athletes were still utterly dominant in taking places 1-6 and 8.
Ottawa’s McKinlay, who skis out of Mont-Tremblant, was in the middle of the blue pack. He took fourth place on the heels of his third-place finishes in the giant slalom and the super-g.
In archery, Durvishan Thananchayan edged his way up from fourth to third as he completed the second round of qualification in the individual male recurve event yesterday in Charlottetown.
Thananchayan’s combined total for round 1 and 2 was 1,050 – a single point better than the fourth-ranked athlete from B.C. That minuscule margin could wind up making a big difference however, since it provides a more advantageous draw in today’s head-to-head elimination rounds.
The Carleton University student from Kanata also competed in the mixed team recurve competition yesterday. He helped Ontario to the top place in the qualification standings with a total of 2,129, edging second-place B.C. by just two points. The team event continues/concludes Saturday.
Day 14 Preview: Untouchable Team Ontario seeks to keep streak going in hockey playoffs
It’s time to get down to business for the Ontario female hockey team as they enter the playoff round. But the squad’s been all business from the very first puck drop in PEI, scorching their three preliminary round opponents by a combined score of 21-1.
Ontario still needs a win in their quarter-final contest in order to contend for a medal. Ottawa’s Mackenzie Clarke, Naomi Baechler and Ashley Allard are set to face either Manitoba or New Brunswick at UPEI’s MacLauchlan Arena today at 3 p.m. ET (the tournament draw doesn’t note which opponent is theirs…)
Ontario beat Manitoba 7-0 in their opening game, while New Brunswick edged Newfoundland and Labrador 2-1 in the qualification playoff for their first win of the tournament (though they gave both B.C. and Saskatchewan a good run in one-goal losses).
Six Ottawa cross-country skiers return after a one-day rest for the female and male 10- and 15-kilometre mass start free events. Those begin at 11:15 a.m. ET and 12:15 p.m. ET respectively at Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park.
And Thananchayan will shoot for a place on the podium in his male individual recurve archery competition beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET at Charlottetown’s Eastlink Centre.
Event livestreams are available at www.canadagames.ca/watch.
You can find links to schedules, and all of our Games coverage in one place, through our Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games central webpage:
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