Sask. water skier headed Down Under for World Disabled Water Ski Championships
Paraplegic Blake Lamontagne says water skiing gave him freedom
From chilly Saskatchewan lakes to balmy Brisbane waters, Wawota native Blake Lamontagne is taking his water skiing addiction to Australia to prepare for this year's World Disabled Water Ski Championships.
Lamontagne had only tried water skiing once before a car accident made him a paraplegic.
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It would be seven years after the accident before he tried again. When he did, he said it was the first time in seven years he had felt like he didn't have a disability.
Freedom on the water
"It was freeing," said Lamontagne.
"When I'm on that trick board I'm doing things that my able-bodied friends wouldn't be able to do and it's just kind of rewarding in that sense. Just being able to get out there and be passionate about something again."
That was in 2014. Lamontagne skipped the recreational lead-up and went straight into competition.
He said it was partly because of a chance encounter with a national coach on his first day of adaptive water skiing.
"By the time I'd gotten off of the water after I went for my ride, I was drying off and Dave Wassill came over and he introduced himself and extended me an invite to go to a prospect camp in Florida," said Lamontagne.
"I lit it up on the water and then next thing I knew I was getting into competing."
His arsenal of tricks now includes 720s, 360s, "wakebacks" and "wakefronts".
Lamontagne's next stop is Brisbane, Australia, where he's headed this weekend to start training for the world championships.
The competition itself will be held at Myuna Bay, in New South Wales, from April 24 to 30.
Lamontagne, who is also an ambassador for the Rick Hansen Foundation, said he puts a lot of pressure on himself at competitions.
"But to be able to go out there and try to prove that you're the best is just a satisfying feeling," he said.
With files from CBC Radio's Afternoon Edition