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Para snowboarder Curt Minard given reason to believe again

Para snowboarder Curt Minard lost his left hand after being involved in an electrical contact accident while at work. Doctors didn't know if he'd survive and told him to temper his expectations. Minard thought all was lost, but sports gave him a second chance at life.

Weyburn, Sask., native nearly died after being electrocuted with over 14,400 volts

Para snowboarder Curt Minard lost his left hand after being involved in an electrical contact accident at work. (Submitted by Gavin Crawford/Canada Snowboard)

One of the words that para snowboarder Curt Minard lives by is believe.

Ten years ago, the 38-year-old didn't have much as he fought for his life after being involved in an electrical contact accident during work as a powerline technician.

Minard was electrocuted with over 14,400 volts, which is about 500 per cent more than the human body can withstand before shutting down.

Doctors didn't know if he'd survive as Minard had complications in hospital.

"I was pretty fortunate. There's a reason why I didn't die ... the biggest obstacle was getting back to being me and that wasn't easy," Minard told CBC Sports.

Karina Leblanc sits down with Para Snowboarder Curt Minard. 7:40

Minard's left hand was amputated from the wrist and he suffered third-degree burns to his right hand.

Doctors told Minard that he'd have to give up some of the things he cherished most, including hockey and snowboarding.

"A lot of people have been in situations like mine where they felt like life was over and I was that guy. A few times I thought that I was going to give up and that wasn't the case," Minard recalled.

Minard was diagnosed with post traumatic depression disorder and it took time before he found it within himself to believe once again and rise above the newfound challenges thrust upon him.

Minard, right, was a member of Canada's world championship amputee hockey team in 2012. (@cjminard/Instagram)

He credits ex-NHLer Dean McAmmond for helping turnaround his life. McAmmond devoted his time to helping Minard get back into shape for an amputee hockey league.

But their friendship wasn't all about sports as they often shared stories about their hardships.

"Just talking from one athlete to another about the struggles — he had tons of advice for me and that was a defining moment. That led me to gaining momentum and confidence that [carried me] to where I am today," Minard said.

Honoured to represent Canada

In 2012, Minard was invited to a national amputee hockey selection camp and subsequently selected to represent Canada at the world championships later that year.

The Weyburn, Sask., native and his teammates took home gold. It was at that moment Minard realized that "he'd beat" his disability — it no longer owned him.

Donning the maple leaf never gets old for Minard and he takes great honour in that.

In the fall of 2015, Minard looked into para snowboarding for his next opportunity to represent his country.

The sport always held a special place in Minard's heart as he loved the adrenaline rush that it brought and its highly competitive nature reminded him of hockey. 

"I just really missed that notion or possibility of representing Canada — competing and taking my athletics to a whole another level," Minard said. 

Renewed passion

Minard contacted Canada Snowboard and after participating in some camps, was invited to compete at the Nor-Am Cup in February 2016.

He shattered all expectations, winning both the para snowboard cross and banks slalom races in his first competition.

"It really showed myself that, 'You have this ability [from] within [to] dig deeper and you know what else is there' — the sky's the limit," Minard said.

With a renewed passion, Minard began putting everything he had into becoming the best para snowboarder that he could be.

Just a week after his successful debut, he placed sixth and seventh in a pair of World Cup events. In March 2016, Minard became the national para snowboard cross champion in the para upper limb category despite breaking his right shoulder in the time trials.

Afterwards, Minard was taken to hospital and as his shoulder throbbed with pain, he wasn't thinking that this was another setback — but instead of his recent success and that snowboarding for Canada was no longer a pipe dream.  

"In that time frame where I was like, 'Look at what I just accomplished in two short months.' That's when I really started to zero in on what's the possibility here and do I have a shot?" Minard said. 

"I don't ever do anything half-measured. If I'm going to commit to something, I want to be able to put [everything] in there, walk away, and be happy with it."

At peace with himself   

In the 2016-17 season, Minard finished sixth overall — his first full season on the World Cup circuit — concluded by a third-place finish at the para snowboard cross test event in Pyeongchang.

Last December, Minard secured a Paralympic berth with another World Cup bronze medal.

Minard is already a two-time national para snowboard cross champion. (Gavin Crawford)

Minard knows he's inspired his kids and others in similar situations by just reaching this point.

He'd love to top the podium in South Korea and listen to O Canada as he did at the amputee world hockey championships. But as long as Minard is at peace with himself, that's all that matters. 

"When the Games are done, I [want to] look back and say I laid it all out and took whatever measures were necessary to get myself prepared. Regardless of the results, [as long as] I'm content with myself — that's all I really want," Minard said.

About the Author

Chicco Nacion

Chicco Nacion returns to his birthplace of Toronto after growing up in Niagara Falls. He graduated from the Master of Media in Journalism and Communication program at the University of Western Ontario. Follow him on Twitter @chicco_n

With files from Jamie Strashin

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