Sochi, Russia - On March 7, Fisht Olympic Stadium will host the opening ceremonies of the XI Paralympic Winter Games. Competitors in 10 disability categories will compete in five events—and Team Semper Fi athlete Tyler Burdick (double leg limb salvage) will be representing Team USA in snowboarding. For details about televised coverage of the Paralympics, please see this press release.
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Meet Petty Officer Second Class Tyler Burdick
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On July 22, 2010, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Tyler Burdick was on deployment in Afghanistan and serving with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines. An improvised explosive device blast resulted in severe orthopedic and soft tissue injuries to the lower portions of both legs. Tyler was left with a loss of sensation and significantly reduced range of motion and requires the use of the IDEO (Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis) Brace on both legs during all waking hours.
He’ll be snowboarding in Sochi next month, representing Team USA in the XI Paralympic Winter Games.
The Salt Lake City, Utah native is currently ranked eighth in the world in snowboarding, and achieved a second-place finish last April at the Boardercross National Championships in Copper Mountain, Colorado.
“After my injury, my goal was to snowboard again,” Tyler says. “I told myself, ‘When I ride again, I'll consider myself recovered.’ To not only return to snowboarding, but to relearn how to do it well at the World Class level—yeah, I feel fully recovered! My passion is renewed and I have something that drives me to excel and to never look back or feel sorry for myself.”
Getting to that level, though, was not an easy journey.
“Adapting to and modifying the equipment I use to snowboard has been, aside from the injury itself, the most challenging aspect to snowboarding at this high level,” Tyler says. “But when I look around at a race, the mountains, the fresh air and the other boarders striving to achieve excellence despite their disabilities, it inspires me. Any worries or doubts I have about my performance are driven out of my mind and I realize how lucky I am to have this opportunity. I focus on the task of giving my best performance.”
“Without the support of the Semper Fi Fund and Team Semper Fi, I don't know that I would be able to do what I'm doing,” adds Tyler. “I've received a great deal of help that has enabled me to take advantage of training opportunities and attend competitions. Plus, the opportunities provided by the Semper Fi Fund and Team Semper Fi to engage with other veterans experiencing similar circumstances enable me to stay positive. I get the same feeling of Esprit de corps I had while serving with the Marine Corps.”