John Leslie of Arnprior, Ont., took another giant step in his career this past weekend as he won bronze medals in both men’s snowboard cross races at a Para-snowboard World Cup competition. They were his first career medals on the circuit.
The below knee amputee, who is also developing an impressive set of freestyle skills on the board, moved to Whistler recently to train and his dedication continues to pay dividends.
‘’It’s nice to see the hard work and training pay off,’’ said Leslie, 21. ‘’I’m super proud of myself to have made these accomplishments for the first time in my career.’’
Leslie’s coach Candice Drouin said the results augur well for the future.
‘’John showed he can be consistent,’’ said Drouin. ‘’I’m proud of our entire team. All the pre-season training has been effective and we are looking forward to racing some more.’’
On Saturday, Michael Shea led the U.S., to a 1-2 finish clocking 1:21.10 with the fastest times on all three runs. The two best times are combined for the final result. Evan Strong was second at 1:24.18 and Leslie followed in 1:27.01. Ian Lockey of Trail, B.C., was fifth and Tyler Mosher of Whistler, B.C., sixth.
On Sunday, Strong turned the tables on his teammate winning in 1:22.40 with Shea second in 1:22.49. Leslie posted a 1:25.79. Mosher was 12th and Lockey decided to sit out the race to heal a sore ankle.
Leslie has worn a prosthetic leg since being treated for cancer at age 10, but that never slowed him down to be an active part of the Arnprior community. He is a recipient of Ontario Community Newspapers Association junior citizen of the year award.
Just last month, Arnprior gave Leslie a huge Ottawa Valley send-off as he headed out west for his final set of training and competitions before the Sochi Games. Leslie took the opportunity to visit schools including Arnprior District High School, where he graduated and which also organized the send-off.
Leslie’s long-term goal has always to peak for the 2018 Paralympics in South Korea, but if this weekend’s results are indication, Leslie may be on the fast track to the podium in Sochi.