Gaming

Brenna Huckaby wins bronze in snowboard cross after legal struggle to compete: NPR

Brenna Huckaby wins bronze in snowboard cross after legal struggle to compete: NPR

Brenna Huckaby competes in the women’s snowboard cross SB-LL2 qualification on day two of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games on Sunday.

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Brenna Huckaby competes in the women’s snowboard cross SB-LL2 qualification on day two of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games on Sunday.

Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

It took a last minute injunction – and then two hard races – for Brenna Huckaby to win a medal at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. Huckaby won the bronze medal in snowboard cross on Monday, after surviving a fall in the medal race and a game-saving second-place finish in the semi-finals.

She finished third after colliding with Dutch rider Lisa Bunschoten, who cried out in frustration after the crash forced her off the course. Huckaby only had to finish to clinch a place on the podium.

The previous race was no less dramatic. Huckaby was riding in last place after struggling to clear a first hurdle. She was so far behind that the cameramen didn’t follow her. And as Bunschoten crossed the finish line first in that race, Huckaby snuck in behind her – racing down the home straight ahead of the other two riders.

The presenters hadn’t seen her catch up either.

From gymnastics to snowboarding to the podium

Almost all Olympic and Paralympic athletes have stories of perseverance and bravery.

Huckaby does not hesitate to share his.

She’s 26, a mother of two girls and a two-time snowboarding gold medalist who made her Paralympic debut at the Pyeongchang Games – just four years after she started competing.

Huckaby’s right leg was amputated above the knee when she was a teenager due to bone cancer. Before his amputation, she was a competitive gymnast, but returning to the sport afterwards was “almost impossible”.

A trip to Utah allowed him to regain his sporting life.

“I knew if I could just try snowboarding it would give me back a piece of my life that I had before cancer and amputation because it reminded me of a balance beam, and I really, really wanted to feel that way. again,” Huckaby mentioned.

A year after that first snowboarding trip, Huckaby moved to Utah to snowboard full time.

From there she started competing and eventually won gold in the snowboard cross and banked slalom events in 2018.

She had to go to court to compete

As the 2022 games rolled around, Brenna expected to defend her titles, but instead found herself having to even ask to compete.

The International Paralympic Committee decided that there were not enough women in Huckaby’s classification and that she could not compete with others who had less severe leg impairments. Essentially, the governing body was saying she was too disabled to compete.

“I felt like it was completely wrong for me to be kicked out of the competition, so I fought hard,” she said.

“The IPC kept saying, no, you can’t compete without giving me a valid reason.”

In December, she filed an injunction with a German court.

Then Huckaby went public with his petition on instagram and TIC Tac, sharing what had been a silent battle with her fans and fellow professional athletes who rallied around her.

“I felt like I could go further in my fight. It also reinforced that what I was going through was wrong and I just knew I wasn’t alone in my feelings,” he said. she declared. “It was so relieving.”

Before the Beijing Games, Huckaby had to take her case to a German court which eventually decided that the International Paralympic Committee should let her compete.

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Before the Beijing Games, Huckaby had to take her case to a German court which eventually decided that the International Paralympic Committee should let her compete.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The court decision came in January, ruling in her favor and giving her a pathway to put all the training she had undergone into practice.

All this training isn’t physical

When she won her medals in 2018, Huckaby said she was under a lot of pressure that she had imposed herself and that “the good feeling was fleeting”.

Going into the Beijing Games, she said she was focusing a lot more on her mental training.

“I definitely took a lot longer to realize that my value is more than just a medal,” she said. “For four years I have been working to value myself as a person, as an athlete apart from my achievements and apart from what I can do on my snowboard.”

At the time, Huckaby said she wanted to prove to herself that she could be both a strong athlete and a person with a healthy mindset.

“You can still do amazing, but also love yourself and know your worth. And, you know, be okay with where you are, but you can still win,” she said.

Peter Granitz contributed to this report.