Disability

Full transcript: Off-piste at the Paras #4: Snowboarder Ben Moore! - 11 March 2018

This is a full transcript of the 11 March 2018 Off-piste at the Paras #4: Snowboarder Ben Moore presented by Beth Rose.

MUSIC - Off Piste at the Paras, from the Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang. With Beth Rose.

BETH - Hello and welcome to this very chilly Ouch podcast with me, Beth Rose, which is all about the Winter Paralympics. Question for you: what would you do if you were in a ski resort in Canada, it was cold and you had missed your bus up the mountain? Turn around and grab a drink? That's exactly what I would do. But snowboarder, Ben Moore dismissed that idea and decided to hitchhike his way up the mountain instead. Unknown to him the person who would stop for him would completely change his life and get him to compete in the Winter Paralympics.

But Ben's story started a few years before that when, as a teenager in Plymouth with plans to train as a fighter pilot, his life changed overnight.

BEN - I was knocked off my motorcycle at the age of 19. I technically hit a car, T-boned him. He turned across my path and that was it. I lost the use of my arm. It's called a radial plexus injury, and it's to do with a big ring of nerves around your shoulder, and I pulled them directly from my spine. So I'm missing the movement from my fingers, my wrist and the sensation from up to my elbow. And then things start to come back a little bit, so I have a little bit of bicep, my shoulder muscles, but no tricep and I'm missing half a pectoral muscle.

BETH - So, you can't feel anything in your fingers or your lower arm?

BEN - Not proper feeling, no. They call it hypersensitivity. For example if you were to brush past me it makes me shudder, it makes me cringe, and it feels really horrible. But if somebody is to grab me the sensation is normal to an extent.

BETH - And can you use your hand?

BEN - No.

BETH - Because a lot of people probably think upper limb injury, maybe amputee. So, your arm is there, it's very much there.

BEN - Yeah.

BETH - What happens when you're snowboarding?

BEN - I ride in a sling and a wrap, so I can keep my arm in close to me. It lacks circulation, so by the end of the day on a mountain if I'm not wearing appropriate layers it's like an ice pole. Like sometimes I'll get in and I'll go to have a shower and it touches me and I'm like woah, get away! [Laughs]

BETH - That must be quite hard. You had use of your arm until you were 19 and you skateboarded so you were good on balance.

BEN - I think I was off balance beforehand.

BETH - Oh, were you?

BEN - I think I was slightly off balance because within three quarters of the year I had, like, my down time, getting used to everything for six months, and then I got back to my skateboard and I think within three months of getting back on my skateboard I was almost back to where I previously was. So, I think I must have been lopsided anyway.

BETH - Did a lot of people tell you, don't be silly, don't give skateboarding a go, or were they really encouraging?

BEN - I had it from both sides to be honest with you. There was a lot to take on board because of feeling and falling over, everything came into play. Since the accident I've actually broken my arm twice. The only reason I knew once is because I hit the deck, I got up and walked away, and I took my sling off and it just made a really horrific sound and I was like, oh I've got to go to the hospital. And that was it, I found out I'd broken my arm.

BETH - What were you doing when you were 19? What were your future plans?

BEN - I had just taken my aptitude test. I was looking at going into the Air Force as a fighter pilot. I didn't place as well on the aptitude test as I liked, so I was going to wait six months to take the aptitude test.

BETH - And then this crash happened.

BEN - Yeah. Some may say fate; some may say it was horrific. At the end of the day I see it as a silver lining in everything: my cloud wasn't silver lined, it was platinum lined. Look at where I am today: I get to go out, I get to snowboard, I get to travel the world. I'm having a ball. I couldn't have done this in the able-bodied world.

BETH - What did your 19 year old self think? You'd just been discharged from hospital; I'm guessing you didn't see the silver lining then?

BEN - As I said, I might have slipped it by, but with my downtime… The first six months were very hard. I kept telling all the doctors that they should put me in a cryogenic freezer for the seven years that my arm could potentially heal for, and pull me out when I'm healed, because there's no point. But then I got back on my skateboard. I had a friend let me have a go on his motorcycle, and as soon as I got on the motorcycle I knew I needed a motorbike to become me. And jumping back on the bike really got me to where I am today.

BETH - And how did the snowboarding appear? I mean, there is a ski slope in Plymouth, but I'm guessing you didn't start there.

BEN - Well, like yourself, I tried it when I was a child. It was one of my birthday celebrations. But I'd never snowboarded before. I'd always been into extreme sports. I had friends that had been, they'd told me about everything and I wanted to give it a go, but just never been financially set for it.

And after the crash things changed and I was able to afford to go, and we went for my birthday in 2007 for two weeks in Bulgaria, a little place called Bansko. We got to the top of the mountain, I said, lads, how do you turn left, how do you turn right and how do you stop. They showed us, and it took us an hour and a half to do our first run. Dropping in on top of a red run isn't the most sensible of options to do when it's your first run, but cheers guys.

BETH - And was it easy going from skateboarding to snowboarding?

BEN - No, not anywhere near as easy as anticipated. I expected to get it pretty quickly, but it took me four days before I could get myself where I wanted to go rather than where the mountain wanted to take me.

BETH - 2007 is only 11 years ago, so how did you learn how to snowboard, and then more importantly get into the GB team?

BEN - I wasn't able to find anybody to go with for the next couple of years, and then 2010 I met up with some more buddies that decided to go for my birthday. And then we were in Austria in Mayrhofen and I was like, "I need to do something with this.2 So, in 2010, I did a gap year project to become a snowboard instructor. I got to go out for my first season, that was Lake Louise - what a beautiful place Canada is.

Fate interacted once again. I was hitchhiking up to the mountain, I got picked up by Team Canada and the event coordinator for the Para World Cup, and for my first season I got to compete at a worldwide level, represent for Great Britain and was introduced to the sport of Border Cross.

BETH - So, that was a complete coincidence that you happened to be hitchhiking.

BEN - Totally.

BETH - They were driving past.

BEN - I literally, I missed the works bus up to the mountain, was dead set on going snowboarding as there was lots of fresh snow, and I knew it was going to be fun. Got to the highway and then I got picked up by Team Canada.

BETH - You weren't aware that there was a Para snow sport thing happening?

BEN - No, not at all. It was just very coincidental that they picked me up, made me aware of everything that was going on. Like I worked for a snow school at the time, so I kind of expected to know everything that was going on at the mountain, but lo and behold I didn't. And he told me and thank you ever so much Canada's team.

BETH - Are you still friends with the Canadian team, do you know them?

BEN - I am indeed, yeah.

BETHSo, you're looking forward to seeing them.

BEN - Every time we compete.

BETH - And how are you feeling about Pyeongchang?

BEN - A little overwhelmed, but I'm sure I'll be able to take it in my stride. See how it goes. There's only one way to do it and that's well, get there and do it, isn't it?

BETH - He sounds a little bit nervous there but I think Ben will do a great job on the slopes. And as a fellow southwester I will definitely be rooting for him. He'll be going in the upper limb category of the snowboard competition.

As always we love to hear from you and if you've got a question you want me to ask while I'm out here, do get in touch. Remember you can email ouch@bbc.co.uk, tweet @bbcouch or find us on Facebook.

I'll be here in South Korea throughout the Games, and we'll be podcasting on this feed as much as possible. So, if you're a fan tune in for the background on what's happening and send in your questions for us to answer. See you later.

MUSIC - This has been a Winter Paralympics podcast brought to you by BBC Ouch from Pyeongchang in South Korea. You can email the team ouch@bbc.co.uk or tweet @bbcouch.

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