When the 2018 Paralympic Games comes around, which will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Warfighter Josh Elliott hopes to represent his country with pride as an athlete, just as he did as a United States Marine. The Paralympic hopeful has a goal of being in the top five, although he quickly points out that he would love nothing more to bring home a medal.
Elliott is a para alpine skier and he considers the slalom and giant slalom events to be his bread and butter. Part of the U.S. Paralympics Alpine National Team, 2017 has been a pretty busy year for competitions leading up to next year’s Winter Games. In addition to taking the U.S. Slalom Championship Title, Elliott participated in the World Cup Circuit, which took him to eight countries, including the North America Cup in the U.S. and Canada, as well as races in Europe and South Korea. “Going to South Korea and being able to ski on the slopes that will be part of the 2018 Games is huge,” he said.
On the World Cup Circuit, Elliott was able to place third in slalom at the competition in Kranjka Gora, Slovenia. He also finished sixth in both slalom and giant slalom at the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Tarvisio, Italy. The World Championships is, of course, the highest level of competition outside the Paralympics.
Over the past couple months, he has been able to participate in some Sierra Nevada Summer Camps allowing him to do some giant slalom and Super G training. According to Elliott, Mammoth Mountain has had plenty of snow, so they have been able to ski well into the summer months.
Elliott is focused on building up for season, which starts in November, and prepping for Pyeongchang. His training is focused on developing technique, strength and exercise, and diet. Elliott believes if you work on perfecting the technique, the speed will come if you are doing everything properly. “All of this work hopefully ensures that you peak at the right time,” he said.
The retired Marine Sergeant got into monoskiing in December 2011 through Disabled Sports USA’s Warfighter Sports program. Just eight months earlier, Elliott was in a medically-induced coma and had lost both of his legs by stepping on an IED (improvised explosive device) during a combat tour in Afghanistan. He spent part of his rehabilitation at Walter Reed in Bethesda as well as Navy Medical in San Diego. “Monoskiing quickly became one of my biggest therapies,” he said.
Before his injury, Elliott enjoyed snowboarding and monoskiing seemed to be a good fit for him. It is amazing to see how far you can take monoskiiing,” he said. “When I watched folks like Laurie Stephens, Tyler Walker, and Health Calhoun (all previous DSUSA Warfighter Sports participants), I never imagined I would be able to go that fast down a mountain as well.” Although others did, and encouraged him to enter the training program in Aspen, which he did. When he first got into para alpine skiing, the 2014 Paralympics were right around the corner. But he wanted to be realistic with his goals and therefore set his sight on 2018. “I decided I didn’t just want to go to the Olympics, but to go and be a contender,” he said.
Sgt. Elliott has participated in the AIG Winter Summit for several years. “Skiing helped me when I first went off medications and introduced me to a world of opportunities that I otherwise would never have known existed without AIG and Warfighter Sports.” he said. “Competitive alpine ski racing made me realize my full potential and gave me the drive to continue to live. The AIG Winter Summit has provided me the opportunity to turn my dream into reality.”After the 2018 games, the San Diego resident plans to retire from competitive skiing and hopes to be able to help others come through adaptive sports programs.
We will definitely be cheering for Sgt. Elliott at the next Paralympic Games, scheduled for March 9-18, 2018.