Growing up, Noah Elliott was an avid skateboarder. “It gave me something to focus on and a way to express myself,” he said. But on January 30, 2015, at the age of 17, he would have his left leg amputated after a bout with Osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.
He went through a year of in-patient treatment which included an attempt at limb salvage. His mobility was super limited and could barely walk on his own, which led to making the tough decision of amputating it above the knee.
2017 was the first time on a snowboard. “I had never snowboarded before. Having that (his leg) taken away from me, it was a chance to regain a part of me that I felt was lost.”
Even though he is fairly new to his amputation, his ability quick caught the attention of others involved in adaptive snowboarding, including 2014 Paralympic Bronze Medalist Keith Gabel. “Keith, Kep, and Colton have believed in me the whole time,” Elliott said (Kep Koeppe is with Adaptive Sports Center of Crested Butte and Colton Bradley is with National Ability Center, two chapters of Disabled Sports USA). “They were there saying ‘this kid needs to be trained’ and they gave me a voice.”
This being Elliott’s first season competing has not come without challenges though. In Finland, he was dealing with his leg fluctuating too much but still was able to come away with two silver medals in Snowboard Cross. In Landgraaf (The Netherlands), he got third place even though he was having issues with his leg, which was also causing significant pain. “I finally feel like I have the right socket,” he said.
He made his international debut in New Zealand, which marked the start of the current season. Elliott would earn two gold medals in Bank Slalom (one World Cup and one Southern Hemisphere Cup). In December, he won another Gold medal in Bank Slalom at the Dew Tour. “That was an unreal experience as I grew up watching the Dew Tour.” For both occasions, he had to fund all of his own experiences. “I did have support from the National Ability Center,” he said, along with a number of individuals and others through crowdfunding efforts.
Elliott was named to Disabled Sports USA’s E-Team for 2018, which supports and empowers emerging youth athletes (ages 13-24) with disabilities who are training competitively in sports that are featured in the Paralympic Games.. He also had an opportunity to join some of those that advocated for him early on at DSUSA’s race camp at Ski Spectacular in Breckenridge, Colorado. “It was neat to see the impact it (the event) has on attendees,” he said. Shortly thereafter, Elliott was officially named to the U.S. Paralympic Snowboard Team.
In terms of training, he likes to have a consistent routine. “I don’t try to change too much,” he said. His goals is to make the first chair and be on the snow all day. “I want to be on the snow all the time.” Afterwards, he goes to the gym and of course he eats healthy.
Based on the number of times he podiumed, he automatically qualified for the Paralympic competition. He is looking forward to going to PyeongChang for the 2018 Winter Paralympics and enjoys being able to experience new places and new cultures. “Hopefully it won’t be my last Olympics,” he said. On and off the slopes, he wants to be the best person he can be. “I want to show people that there is life past cancer and past the challenges we face.”