Britain's Ben Moore aims for World para-snowboard success

By Elizabeth HudsonBBC Sport
GB snowboarder Ben Moore
A chance meeting with a member of Canada's para-snowboard team introduced Moore to competitive action.

Plymouth's Ben Moore wants to create history this week and become Britain's first ever para-snowboard world champion.

The 28-year-old was a keen skateboarder before suffering nerve damage to his arm in a motorcycle accident nine years ago which left it paralysed.

But shortly afterwards, he discovered snowboarding on a trip to Bulgaria with some friends.

And after qualifying and working as a snowboard instructor in Canada, a chance meeting with a member of the country's para-snowboard team introduced him to competitive action.

Now, three years later, he is making a big impact in the sport and will be chasing gold at the World Championships, which begin in La Molina, Spain on Monday.

"This season has been quite overwhelming for me," Moore told BBC Sport. "The first year that the International Paralympic Committee organised the sport, there was just a couple of events but this year there is a proper race tour and I'm really enjoying being part of the competition.

"If I ride the way I have ridden all season, I believe I can finish on the podium."

Moore's accident left him without many of the nerves that work his arm and also affected his circulation, meaning he rides with his arm in a sling inside his jacket.

Para-snowboard made its Winter Paralympic debut in Sochi last year but it was only open to athletes with lower limb impairments, much to Moore's disappointment.

This year, in a bid to grow the sport's popularity and to try to make more medals available in Pyeongchang in 2018, the IPCexternal-link have divided the lower limb categories into above and below the knee while also introducing the category for upper limb impairments which Moore competes in.

Michael Shea
Para-snowboard made its Winter Paralympic debut in Sochi in 2014, but it was only open to athletes with lower limb impairments.

Tuesday at the Worlds will feature events in snowboard-cross, where athletes race head-to-head after an initial qualification round, and on Saturday in banked slalom.

Moore hopes an impressive display in Spain will also lead to an increase in funding.

He leads the snowboard-cross World Cup standings, creating history by winning the first ever head-to-head race in Aspen, United States in mid-January and also fulfilled a lifetime's ambition by taking part in the X Games at the same resort days later.

He will be joined on the GB team by Owen Pick, who was injured while serving with the Army in Afghanistan in 2009 after stepping on an explosive device and later had his lower right leg amputated.

Moore is looking forward to renewing rivalries in Spain with the banked slalom leader Patrick Mayrhofer of Austria and Italian Manuel Pozzerle, who has been challenging both for top spot all season.

"Generally the three of us have been within a second or so of each other, which is great," he adds. "It is helping to push us all on. I've really been enjoying the tightness of the competition.

"With the banked slalom it is about finding the right lines with your coach and the right pressures and staying as fast as you can.

"But I prefer boardercross because I like the lumps, bumps and jumps and the challenge of the timing and co-ordination.

"The head-to-head element has added a new dimension. Hearing someone on your tail or chasing someone is more fun for us as athletes, but also for spectators."