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Para-snowboarders Nominated To Canadian Paralympic Team For Sport'S Debut In Sochi

BIG WHITE, BC, Jan. 26, 2014 /CNW/ - Three Canadian para-snowboarders have been nominated to the Canadian team that will compete at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, it was announced today by Canada Snowboard and the Canadian Paralympic Committee.

Para-snowboard was officially added to the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games in May 2012 after years of effort on the part of Canada Snowboard and the snowboarding community.

To date, Canada has three para-snowboarders who have qualified for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games: Tyler Mosher (Whistler, B.C.), Ian Lockey (Rossland, B.C.) and John Leslie (Arnprior, Ont.). They are coached by head coach Candice Drouin (Banff, Alta.) and technical coach Dave Hugill (Whistler, B.C.). There may be an additional athlete nominated after the IPC World Cup Feb. 10 to 12 in La Molina, Spain.

For complete athlete and coach biographies, click HERE: [http://tinyurl.com/l7p94nj]

While para-snowboard is a new Paralympic sport that will debut in Sochi, the nominated Canadians have years of experience under their boards with numerous international medals to show for it.

Mosher was the 2009 para-snowboard world champion, has won three IPC World Cup gold medals and was a Vancouver 2010 Paralympian in para-Nordic skiing. Lockey won a world championship bronze medal in 2009. Leslie is in his first year on the World Cup circuit and just last weekend won his first IPC World Cup medals, two bronze, at Copper Mountain, U.S.

"It's quite overwhelming to believe that 10 years ago snowboarding for people with a disability didn't exist and now we're going to Sochi and the first ever Paralympic Games," said Mosher. "It's exciting to see young people racing with us who will be the next generation of snowboarding leaders within the Paralympic movement. It's a true honor to be able to represent your country and exhibit your best effort towards excellence."

"Everyone at Canada Snowboard is really excited for the announcement of the athletes today and we've got a mix of older veterans who are bringing a wealth of experience to the team and a younger athlete as well, who brings great youthful enthusiasm," said head coach of the Canadian para-snowboard team, Candice Drouin. "We are really looking forward to going back to Sochi. We had a great test event there last season. Our athletes are excited to showcase the sport and their skills to the world and it's a great opportunity for para-athletes to build awareness so more people with a disability can learn about taking part in our sport."

"Today's announcement is about writing a new chapter in Paralympic sport history in welcoming the first ever Para-snowboard athletes on the Canadian Paralympic team," said Team Canada Chef de Mission, Ozzie Sawicki. "The positive energy that surrounds our para-snowboarders comes not only from within their own sport, but through a shared excitement from the entire Canadian Team heading to Sochi. As the newest addition to the Paralympic Games, I am thrilled to see the performance determination of this group of athletes and coaches. I know they are well-prepared to contribute to Team Canada's overall goal for Sochi of placing in the top three nations in the gold medal count."

The athletes and coaches will be supported in Sochi by Team Leader Dustin Heise (Parksville, B.C.), physiotherapist Mike Conway (Whistler, B.C.) and technician Derek Rhodes (Whistler, B.C.).

"I am confident that the athletes nominated to compete in Sochi and their hard work and passion for snowboarding will ensure we bring home success for Canada," said Heise, who is also Director, Sport Development, Canada Snowboard. "We couldn't be where we are without the support of the Government of Canada, Own The Podium, the Canadian Paralympic Committee as well as our valued corporate sponsors. I want to commend the coaching staff and integrated support staff for all of their dedicated planning and athlete development as we lead up to the Games."

"Congratulations to the para-snowboarding athletes who have been chosen to represent Canada at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games," said the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State Sport. "You are an enormous source of pride for all Canadians and you serve as inspiring role models of sportsmanship, determination, and motivation for our children and youth."

The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will take place from March 7 to 16. Men's and women's para-snowboard, which at the Paralympic Games is considered a discipline of alpine skiing, will race in Sochi on Friday March 14.

With a goal of placing in the top three nations in the gold medal count, Canada will send approximately 50 athletes to compete in sledge hockey, wheelchair curling, para-Nordic skiing, biathlon, para-alpine skiing and para-snowboard.

Nomination to the Canadian Paralympic Team is ongoing. The full team will be officially unveiled in February.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Media are invited to visit photos.paralympic.ca and create an account to be able to download high-resolution photos of Canadian Paralympic athletes at any time, at no cost.

WATCH: With 100 days to go to the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) unveiled an unprecedented, fully accessible broadcast and electronic media plans for the most comprehensive coverage ever offered in Canada for a Paralympic Games - more than 65 hours of broadcast, up to 350 hours of digital streaming, and rights free news access highlights connecting Canadians via multi platforms. CPC will lead the Paralympic Broadcast Consortium partners in creating coverage on five broadcast/digital platforms: CBC/Radio-Canada, Sportsnet, Accessible Media Inc. (AMI), Yahoo Sports Canada and SendtoNews.

About Canada Snowboard

Canada Snowboard (Canadian Snowboard Federation) is the national governing body for snowboarding in Canada. With the support of valued corporate partners like The Canadian Tire Corporation, Under Armour and Mazda Canada, along with the Government of Canada, Own the Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee; Canada Snowboard is committed to high performance excellence in FIS World Cup, World Championships, World Snowboard Tour and Olympic Winter Games competition. Canada Snowboard also provides a wide range of programs and support services based on established principles of long-term athlete development. For more information on the services and programs offered by Canada Snowboard, visit: www.canadasnowboard.ca

About the Canadian Paralympic Committee

The Canadian Paralympic Committee is a non-profit, private organization with 25 member sports organizations dedicated to strengthening the Paralympic Movement. The Canadian Paralympic Committee's vision is to be the world's leading Paralympic nation. Its mission is to lead the development of a sustainable Paralympic sport system in Canada to enable athletes to reach the podium at the Paralympic Games. By supporting Canadian high performance athletes with a disability and promoting their success, the Canadian Paralympic Committee inspires all Canadians with a disability to get involved in sport through programs delivered by its member organizations. For more information, visit www.paralympic.ca

SOURCE Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC)

Image with caption: "Three Canadian para-snowboarders have been nominated to the Canadian team that will compete at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, it was announced today by Canada Snowboard and the Canadian Paralympic Committee. (CNW Group/Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC))". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140126_C5246_PHOTO_EN_35882.jpg

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