SPOTLIGHT: PARALYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST NOAH ELLIOT

Created: 10 March 2021

Paralympic Gold Medalist, Noah Elliot, doing some tweaking and testing on Winterstick's custom fleet. 

The 2014 Paralympics were on TV as seventeen-year-old Noah Elliott laid in his hospital bed recovering from yet another surgery as part of his battle with osteosarcoma cancer. Chemo treatments had been successful but the damage had been done to his leg and this latest surgery fused his leg with metal rods and bolts in such a way that running and his beloved skateboarding were off the table, forever. 

That night in the hospital, he found inspiration in the Paralympics, planting a seed that set into motion an entirely new life for the Missouri native. “I knew that’s what he wanted to do.” Noah said and a week later when a nurse came into his room and asked if he wanted to go on a trip to Colorado for kids with cancer he jumped at the chance. When he landed in Steamboat Springs, CO he met Paralympian Brenna Huckabee, who was also an osteosarcoma survivor. In Brenna, Noah found a mentor, someone he could instantly connect with and consult with as his body rejected the metal and he was faced with the decision to amputate. “It wasn’t a hard decision”, Noah remembers and after consulting with Brenna,“I was ready to cut off my leg and get back to sports again.” 

In the next two years, Noah accomplished something that seems impossible, even to him looking back at it now. “There were so many pieces that fell into place for me to get to where I am,” Noah said, recalling that after healing from surgery and declaring his goal to compete at the PyeongChang Paralympics, he packed up his life in Missouri to move to Utah to learn to snowboard with the National Ability Center. “I was riding with the NAC instructors Chris and Colt and I was telling them I want to make it to the Para Games and even though they’d heard the dream so many times, they didn’t discourage me from pursuing it, even though I had just learned how to snowboard and the Olympics were a year away.” 

 

And Noah did just that, he worked his way quickly up the ranks, splitting time between working at a local ski shop, snowboarding on lunch breaks, and training with his NAC coaches. Focusing on his pursuit of Olympic gold. Local Utah competitions led him up the Paralympic pipeline and in March of 2017, he was standing at the top of the USASA National Championships snowboardcross course surrounded by the US Paralympic Team. “I was intimidated standing up top with Team USA Parathletes,” Noah said. “I definitely had a little celebrity shock after seeing them on TV and then being up against them. It was insane and inspiring. And everyone was so cool. It was literally one year after launching my Olympic dream pursuit.”

 

A 4th place finish at the 2017 Nationals led to an invite to the New Zealand World Cup in August and to a spot on the USA Adaptive Snowboard Team which led to Noah pinching himself as stood on top of the 2018 Paralympic podium in Pyeongchang, Korea bringing home Paralympic Gold to his country and his young daughter Maddie.

 

It was a simple, yet audacious goal, to win a medal at the Paralympics in snowboarding- having never set foot on a snowboard, but he did it. When you ask Noah what the biggest win for him was on this journey, he says, the community and the sport itself. “The coolest part was that I was falling in love with snowboarding more than this goal to make it to the Olympics and win a medal.” Noah said, “I genuinely fell in love with snowboarding and the community. So many people opened their homes, shared ideas, and supported  me to get where I am all because we shared a common love for snowboarding.” And now that Noah is a full-fledged member of the snowboarding and adaptive community, it’s his turn to give back as the Program Coordinator at Steamboat STARS, the organization that got him on snow post osteosarcoma surgery. 

Now, with the 2022 Paralympics in Beijing coming onto the horizon, Noah is putting in the hard work to repeat his gold medal Paralympic performance. As part of his plan, Noah is honing in his custom kit, from the perfect Biodapt prosthetics to the perfect snowboard. Each adaptive athlete has a unique set of needs based on their stance, prosthetic, and classification which is why Winterstick Snowboards, one of the only purveyors of custom-made snowboards in the US is the perfect sponsor for Noah. Winterstick has an extensive fleet of boards designed by two-time Olympic Gold Medalist in snowboardcross Seth Wescott but they also offer customers an opportunity to demo their in-line boards and create custom boards that answer each individual's needs - stiffer, softer, more camber, less camber, shaped like a surfboard. If you can dream it, they can build it. So Noah alongside Paralympic Coach and former US Snowboard Team, Alex Tuttle, have been demoing every board in the Winterstick fleet and tweaking flex patterns and asymmetrical sidecuts to get it just right. “Between Winterstick’s passion for customization and for snowboarding.  And Alex’s knowledge from competing and understanding boardercross and my willingness to get out there and try anything. We came up with the perfect boards for racing.” Noah said. Well, not just racing. Winterstick, a brand known for its iconic powder boards has opened up Noah’s love of snowboarding beyond the gates. “Now I just want to do all the aspects of snowboarding, ride pow, big mountain, hit the park. This whole adventure started because I couldn’t skateboard the way I wanted to and now I just want to skate the whole mountain.” 


Be on the lookout for Noah Elliot as we head into the Paralympics in Beijing in 2022 and in the meantime he'll be ripping lines in Steamboat and inspiring the next generation of athletes with advice like this,  “Everything and anything is possible if you’re willing to put in the work to do it. Just remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and the love of the sport.

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