So, it's fitting then, that Strong (very appropriately named) emerged victorious in the Adaptive Boardercross competition at this year’s Winter X-Games.Strong’s talent is undeniable, learning to snowboard four years ago – just two years after his devastating injury. The accident occurred as Strong, 17 at the time, was driving home from work in Maui, his hometown. A wayward driver, lighting her cigarette, struck Strong’s motorcycle head-on and flung him into the guardrail.
When Strong came to his senses, he realized his left leg incurred multiple (four) fractures, including his femur. It was laying on top of his chest.
“That's when the pain and shock started to hit me,” Strong recounts.
Then doctors delivered even more shock to Strong and his family – drastic measures were required, they had to amputate Strong’s leg below the knee.
Prior to the tragedy, Strong was a sponsored, professional skateboarder, but his newly acquired disability seemingly nullified all hope of a promising career.
Until, an undeterred Strong jumped on the board once more, hoping, praying, he could still participate in the sport he loved.
“A couple years into my recovery, I was skateboarding and was like, ‘Wow, I'm able,'” Strong said. “I had the perspective like, what I had was so valuable. I'm so blessed to even go out and roll around on my skateboard, and I have to snowboard just because I can.”
Subsequently, Strong attempted snowboarding for the first time during a visit with his uncle in Sun Valley, Idaho. The experiment worked in spades, bunny slopes the first day, black diamonds the next.
Strong fell in the love with snowboarding and decided to pursue it in a meaningful way.
To hone his skill, Strong moved to Truckee's Northstar-at-Tahoe resort in California, shortly thereafter he began competing in earnest three years ago.
Winning the Adaptive Boardercross at this year’s X-Games was the pinnacle of Strong’s young competitive career, afterwards following up with two World Cup Victories in France.
Athletes like Strong and the nonprofit group Adaptive Action Sports (AAS) are bringing increased attention to adaptive snowboarding, attempting to get Boardercross included on the Paralympic docket at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Now it’s the world’s turn to adapt, just like Strong and countless other disabled athletes.