When Tyler Carter was eight years old, he was introduced to adaptive skiing through the Pennsylvania Center for Adaptive Sports (a chapter of Disabled Sports USA) when he heard about a camp they operate. “I wanted to snowboard because all the cool kids were doing it, but they didn’t offer it,” he said. But things ended up working out for the two-time Paralympian, who credits them for where he is today. “They started my whole dream.”
Born without a fibula, Carter would have his right leg amputated below the knee as an infant. “Growing up, I didn’t know anything was different,” he said. “It’s always been a part of me.” That being said, Carter admits going through different phases, sometimes only wearing long pants and sometimes wearing shorts. Because of the camps he went to, it would always make it easier to go back to his hometown of Topton, a small rural town in Pennsylvania that is mostly agricultural. “I felt a sense of freedom and independence when I was around others like me.”
The camps also introduced him to other sports, including tennis and skateboarding. During his youth, he would stay involved with a number of sports, including basketball and dance (tap and jazz), which he did for approximately ten years. He also played tennis in high school. “I almost enjoy it as much as skiing.”
But Tyler has found a niche in alpine skiing. He attended his first Ski Spectacular in 2008 and made the trip to Breckenridge, Colorado every year through 2013. “Ski Spec really jumped my race career. It got me into racing and was super beneficial to my career.”
Alongside a delegation of other young athletes such as Andrew Kurka and Stephanie Jallen, Carter would go to Vancouver in 2010 as part of a Paralympic Experience that would introduce the Paralympic Games to potential future competitors. The experience really sparked a fire for Carter. “I realized then that maybe I can do this… maybe I can go to the Games.”
In 2011, he was selected as a member of Disabled Sports USA’s E-Team, which is designed to support and empower emerging young athletes (ages 13-24) with disabilities who are training competitively in sports that are featured in the summer and winter Paralympic Games. Tyler would also participate in camps and programs offered through the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD), Adaptive Sports Foundation, and Adaptive Adventures, all chapters of DSUSA. He also raced in competitions at Copper Mountain and the NAC Huntsman Cup early in his alpine racing career. NSCD serves as his main training site still today. “I’ve been with them since I was 10 years old.”
Then came the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The Paralympic Experience he had four years earlier provided some insights into what to expect. “When Sochi came around, it wasn’t brand new,” he said. But it was still a stressful time. “I was not only trying to make the team, but taking in the experience as an athlete as well.”
Leading up the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, training was a lot more intense. “I was more focused and I put more pressure on myself. I was also way more prepared than I was four years ago.” But he did have some crashes during the season. He would finish 19th in slalom in PyeongChang. “I was truly honored to be part of Team USA for two Olympic Games.”
It was recently announced that the 24 year old is part of the 2018-19 World Para Alpine Skiing Team. “My story is not over. I am hoping not to be done yet.” He is focused on living a healthy an active lifestyle by taking care of his body, being physically fit, and eating healthy. When it comes to his training regimen, he considers himself a pretty basic guy and sticks to the KISS (Keep it Simple Silly) principle. “I focus on being aware of what I put in my body, such as processed foods,” he said. He also tries to strike a balance in his workouts. In the summer, he will focus on weightlifting and in the winter he will work on cardio. He also works with Heart of the Village Yoga Studio out of Manchester, Vermont to practice yoga, not just for the physical aspect but the mental part as well.
Skiing has afforded Carter numerous opportunities, including traveling around and experience new places and taken advantage of as many opportunities as possible. He also believes in giving back. “If you can change one life, it is worth it.” Skiing has also provided a sense of freedom and no limitations. “I also like speed… that never gets old.”
You can learn more about Tyler Carter and follow him at www.tcskiusa.com.
(Note: Headshot photo courtesy of Team USA).