Adaptive Snowcross Racing at Winter X 2013

Winter X Games was back in Aspen, and Adaptive Snocross was back too!

Adaptive Snocross is an event for racers who have suffered injuries that have left them with paralysis or missing limbs. To some viewers, that might sound sad, but each competitor provides his own inspirational story of overcoming their injury and not holding back.

Schultz (who had to have his left leg amputated after a Dec. 2008 snocross accident) and paralyzed former motocross and supercross superstar Doug Henry were the favorites going into the final, but they had a lot of company at the front with six other great racers.

On green on the nationally televised final, the eight sleds came off the starting line in a bunch. In the first corner, former freestyle superstar Paul Thacker (paralyzed while practicing freestyle in December 2010) got into the back of Schulz’s sled, tipping both machines over. While those two men tried to right their sleds and get themselves back upright, the rest of the field powered far ahead.

At the front was Henry on a Yamaha, though he had heavy competition in the form of Michigan’s Jim Wazny (who lost his left leg in a 2000 motocross accident). First-year adaptive athlete Garrett Goodwin was close behind. Goodwin, the son of hall-of-fame racer Greg Goodwin, was a rising star snocross before his July, 2011, injury in a motocross accident, was in their wake.

Henry led early but then Wazny cut under him in a corner to grab the lead. Henry grabbed it back on the downhill, then Wazny reclaimed the point in a corner. It didn’t last long. On a straight, Henry’s ski got into Wazny’s track – it’s unclear if Henry was moving out or if Wazny was cutting in, but either way Wazny’s Ski-Doo took a hard left and tipped over, ejecting the driver. A game Wazny hopped back to his sled and refired, but he’s be stuck deep in the field.

The contact slowed Henry enough where suddenly Goodwin was all over him. Like the battle with Wazny, Goodwin took the lead momentarily from Henry, but then Henry claimed it back. There was a storm brewing behind them, however. Schultz was coming fast, clearly running the fastest laps on the track. He had knifed through traffic and now was seven seconds back in third – and he erased most of those seven seconds in one lap. He got by Goodwin with two laps left, then caught Henry as the two sleds were taking the white flag. Schulz then grabbed the lead and ran away to collect another Gold with a 1.2 second gap over Silver-earning Henry, with Goodwin grabbing a hard-fought X Games Bronze.

“How about that for some excitement?” Schultz said to the ESPN reporter after the race. “My heart was pounding before I ever got here with that practice track.” Later he added, “That was fun, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to catch them.”

“I knew it was only a matter of time before he was going to be right back in the mix,” Henry said.

It's kind of unfair to only have one adaptive race for one set of metals and prizes. There should be two different classes to separate the paralyzed from the amputees. Putting amputee racers against paralyzed racers that have no movement in their lower bodies gives the amputees an advantage on the track.

Maybe next year we will see a separate adaptive class between the two different types of abilities. Regardless it was great to see the event of Adaptive Snocross come back to Winter X Games after not having it in 2012.

Congratulations to all the racers who competed against each other regardless of their disabilities and abilities. We hope to see you back again next year.
Part of story written by:
John Prusak