Video by Dan Thomson
Amanda Timm knows you’re naked underneath your clothes. Written across the protective casing of her sit-monoski frame, she hopes these words will evoke a laugh or a smile out of the ski community when you run into her at the resorts.
It’s easy to see why Amanda calls this her “rocketship”. Comprising a bucket seat, a single downhill ski, and adapted poles with small skis at each tip called outriggers for leaning into turns, Amanda uses this adaptive skiing equipment to literally launch off of challenging winter terrain. You can find her ripping resorts across western Canada with finesse and expert skill. Whether cruising technical runs in the back bowls of Lake Louise Ski Resort, taking a ride in Delirium Dive at Banff Sunshine Village, or sending park features at Mt. Norquay like a pro, you better keep up to ski with Amanda.
February 6th, 2021 marked the 10 year anniversary of an accident that would change her life. At just 17-years-old while competing in the Fernie Junior Big Mountain Freeski Competition, she came off a cliff and caught an edge that sent her cartwheeling into a tree. Paralyzed from the chest down with a T5/T6 spinal cord injury, she started sit-skiing just 10 months later with the help of Rocky Mountain Adaptive Sports and their program at Banff Sunshine Village.
“Sometimes you’re dealt a pretty shitty set of cards, and you have the option of choosing to live or throwing away what you have left,” says Amanda. “I can happily say I never take a day for granted and I love everything I do, everything I have, and of course standing out. I try to laugh at every situation I’m in because at the end of the day, it’s night, and things could be a lot worse.”
Today, she’s back competing in big mountain competitions, climbing, biking, surfing, and she even spent some time competing on the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team. Now retired from professional racing, you can find her at beer league night races at Norquay, getting face shots skiing the backside of Lake Louise, biking some of the most difficult terrain in Western Canada, and teaching at Canmore Collegiate High School.
Tell me about where you were at in life before your accident.
I was in the middle of my grade 12 year when my incident happened. I had technically already graduated in my first semester, and the second semester of that year was going to be devoted to skiing. At this time in my life, I was ski coaching at least a few days a week and freeskiing the rest of the time. I was at the strongest I had ever been, being one of just a handful of females at that time to throw down bigger tricks. This was also my “gap” year before I was going to go into Engineering at Queen’s University. After my accident that all changed and I had a change of heart about what the future would bring me.
How did you motivate yourself to get back on the mountain so quickly?
The biggest motivation at the time of injury and still now to constantly improve is to be able to keep up with my friends and family. I come from a long line of skiers with family members being past coaches and many friends competing on world stages. My biggest fear is to be left behind because I can’t keep up, so there was no other option then to get back on the mountain as quickly as possible.
What do you wish you saw more of in adaptive sports?
Something I have looked into for years but can’t seem to get a good system for is a sit ski to go touring with. There are so many more possibilities that being able to ski tour can bring me.
Tell me about your biggest achievement as a sit skier.
There are two large accomplishments in my life, the first was winning my first National Championship in a giant slalom race because it showed I could successfully compete with many other individuals in the same place as I was. And the second and possibly biggest accomplishment as a sit skier was the first time I went up the old Summit Palma at Lake Louise Ski Resort. Sit skiers originally weren’t allowed to use it due to the difficult terrain going up and coming down. It was a couple of years before finally the head ski patroller saw me skiing and realized that yes, in fact, I could certainly make it up and down the Palma.
Any advice would you give to others interested in trying out adaptive skiing?
The advice I would give others learning to sit ski is to book a massage in advance for after every session out. Sit skiing is not easy, you can understand the technicalities of how snow and skis work but actually connecting turns and zooming down the hill doesn’t just magically come to you. There is a common saying around any sport that you need 10,000 hours of doing the sport until you feel confident with it. I can say that sit skiing is no exception, stick with it and you find the reward… after a lot falls.
What’s next for you? Any big goals on the mountain?
Be the first female to do a backflip, duhhhhh, stay tuned 😉
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