“I think it’s amazing to be invited to the Dew Tour and I hope we’ll see more adaptive events being integrated into these high-profile able-bodied events because it grows our sport and shows other people out there what is possible,” Mentel said. “It’s just been amazing to watch how fast our sport has grown since it got into the Paralympics.”
Mike Shea, won Friday’s men’s contest with a time of 39.93 seconds, heading an American podium sweep with Evan Strong (40.05) and Mike Minor (40.23). Shea, who also won gold in the Sochi Paralympics, was an active snowboarder before losing his left foot in a wakeboarding accident in 2002; he was snowboarding with a prosthetic foot just two months after the accident.
“Banked slalom is a real grassroots core snowboarding event, stretching back at least three decades, so I love seeing it at the Dew Tour and the Paralympics,” Shea says. “I’ve always looked at banked slalom as an outlet for me to really enjoy myself and have some fun, whereas boardercross racing is more of a straight-up competition between riders. I love racing both, and really enjoy that contrast."
Snowboard legend Terje Haakonsen was on hand to check out the course and new event; after a ride-through he gave it a thumbs up. “Terje is someone I’ve looked up to all my life, so to see him out there cheering for us and giving his approval felt really special,” Shea said.
Adaptive Action Sports co-founder Amy Purdy missed this week’s competition due to complications from Rhabdomyolysis, an exercise-related muscle injury impacting both of her arms, but said bringing the event to Dew Tour still felt like a win.
"It feels amazing to see it grow like this," Purdy said. "When I first started I was the only adaptive snowboarder I knew of, and now we have an amazing group of riders from all over the world helping push the movement. If anyone is interested in learning more about Adaptive Action Sports, or if anyone with a disability is interested in learning to snowboard, they can come to our website, ADACS.org. The whole point here is to expand the opportunities for more people to get involved in snowboarding. We’ve been fortunate to be able to develop resources and relationships and great partners like Toyota and the Dew Tour to make these events happen. Toyota has been an incredible partner of mine for many years and they actually helped to support me before the Paralympics were even a possibility, when nobody was even watching. Now to be able to bring adaptive snowboarding to one of their main events and have it integrated is really big for us and really exciting. They’re also a huge sponsor of our Adaptive Action Sports organization of the Paralympics. It's so cool to me that they want to support the development of the sports, not just slap their name on the events."