One on One with Markus - Jeff Dickson
Sudbury's Jeff Dickson on his drive to succeed
Sudbury's Jeff Dickson life changed a week before his nineteenth birthday. The high school athlete was riding a motorcycle late one evening when he collided with another oncoming motorcycle.
The event, Dickson told CBC's Morning North, changed his life forever.
"Obviously both of us were drinking," Dickson said. "I remember waking up [in the hospital] on my birthday. It was a friends brother and sister singing happy birthday."
"Then I was flown to Toronto to see if they could save my left foot. It got crushed. So, it was amputated."
Dickson's left arm was also paralyzed in the accident.
But instead of giving up skiing, which had been a part of his life since he was three years old, Dickson took up the challenge. Over the course of a couple years, and with the help of adaptive equipment, and the encouragement of friends and coaches, Dickson returned to the ski hill.
Not only did the feel of the sport return, but Dickson discovered he could still compete, even at a high level.
"In 88, 89, and in 1990 I ended up winning four World Cup Gold medals, then went to Albertville [France] in 1992," Dickson said. "I won gold in slalom, and two bronze."
Dickson also qualified for the Lillehammer Paralympics in 1994 and Nagano in 1998.
He took some time off to get married and have kids, but in 2010 returned to the sport, going to Vancouver, where his parents had the chance to watch him in action. Despite his age, the long layoff didn't seem to affect Dickson's performance. His times were the fastest of any North American competitor, he said.
"It's all about how your body reacts," he said. "It's all about your perseverance and drive."
His experience in the Paralympics isn't one he would trade in, Dickson said.
"I loved everything about it," he said. "How it was put together, the people involved, the camaraderie, the friendships, traveling around the world."
"And the competitive part of it was the driver. It makes you set a goal and achieve that goal and get there."