Back in 2009, if you had told New Zealander Corey Peters that he would be a multiple World Champion in skiing within four years, he probably would have laughed. In September of that year, a crash whilst motocrossing left him paralysed. However in a true story of guts and determination, he has gone on to become an inspiration to everyone by becoming a double World Sit-Ski Champion and a Paralympic medallist!...
Where most might stop after an accident like that, Corey knew that sport would play a vital role in him continuing to live a fulfilled life. Before his accident, it was a huge part of his life and after attending a sports seminar in 2011 for people living with physical disabilities he discovered Sit-Ski.
“I knew I had to get back into something sporty, it had been such a big part of my life prior to the accident that I couldn’t just let it disappear. Whilst I was at the seminar I got chatting to Ian Rowe, who has since become a good friend of mine. He had his Sit-Ski there with him and we got talking about what it was and how it all worked. He too came from a similar high-adrenalin background and assured me I would love it…he wasn’t wrong!
Within a few months of that meeting, I had bought my own Sit-Ski and was on the path to where I am now. Before the accident, I had very little exposure to the mountains and snow – only trying snowboarding two or three times prior. However when I got on the Sit-Ski, the feeling of independence after skiing down a groomed trail on a mountain was incredible and something I’ll never forget. That kind of freedom isn’t something I can always get in my general day to day activities.
If I’m honest, it wasn’t actually that difficult to pick up. Coming from a motocross and surfing background, my balance and coordination skills were already pretty good so transitioning them to Sit-Ski wasn’t too bad. Learning to read different snow conditions was obviously a new skill I had to learn but over time that became second nature too. I’ve always been a competitive person, so to find a sport that I really enjoy is great but to be able to do that sport competitively on an International stage is awesome. Having a passion and something to get up for each day is something we should all strive for, and for me that’s Sit-Skiing.”
Of course just like skiing and snowboarding, the best equipment can help shave valuable time off your descent and this is where Öhlins became involved with Corey. “Easily the biggest challenge for any competitive Sit-Skier is setting up the suspension. It’s vital to a quick descent of a run and as I climbed the ranks I began to feel that the original shock perhaps wasn’t the best option and began looking around for alternatives. After speaking with some of the USA athletes, I got the specifications for the Öhlins TTX36 shock. After acquiring one, the internal valving wasn’t set up right for my Sit-Ski so I approached Robert at Kiwi Suspension Solutions Ltd and we began working on it to develop it specifically to my needs. The guys at Kiwi were instrumental in teaching me how to set up the high/low speed compression and rebound clickers. I began using it and with constant feedback from myself about how the shock was reacting under various conditions, they put it on the dyno machine and changed the shim stack which gave a consistent controlled ride.”
In just a space of four years, Corey has established himself as one of the very best Sit-Skiers in the world. At the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, he earned silver medal in the Giant Slalom, which led to him being named Snow Sports New Zealand overall ‘Athlete of the Year’.
2015 saw him take another step forward though, as he was crowned World Champion in the Downhill and Super-G categories, as well as securing silver in the Giant Slalom at the International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing World Championships in Canada. These medals, coupled with his success over the 2014/15 season, saw him secure third overall in the IPC World Cup rankings.
“It really has been a fantastic year, the silver medal at the Paralympics gave me such a big confidence boost that I came into the 2015 World Championships with the self-belief that I could win. I’d worked really hard during the 12 months preceding the event, working on my fitness and refining my technique and equipment, so I knew I had what it would take to win - as long as all the pieces lined up on the day! Thankfully they did, as becoming World Champion is unbelievable. It’s what every high performance athlete dreams of and I’m so stoked to have done it in just four years. It’s taken a lot of hard work to get here, but I’ve got an awesome support team around me, helping me to reach my goals and I know we can improve on this even further next season.”
What is Sit-Skiing?
Sit-Skiing is a growing winter sport, particularly in the northern hemisphere, thanks to the exposure Paralympic sports are beginning to receive on the world stage. There are five disciplines, which mirror that of the traditional skiing genres; Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super Combined, Super G and Downhill.
Competitors use different length skis for each discipline, which range from 165cm to 210cm. Each ski also has a different side cut on them to allow for different turning radiuses. The course is generally made up of hard packed snow/ice; meaning a sharp edge bevel is vital in order for the ski to hold an edge at high speed. Each Sit-Skier has a variety of different waxes and wax overlays for the base of the skis to allow them to glide better, depending on the temperature and humidity.