Welcome back to episode three of our Team FBC Interviews. This time, Matt had a chat with us and spoke about his life as an ambassador for adaptive sports. As some of you may know, Matt was born with Spastic Cerebral Palsy. While usually we would find him on the biking trails around Fernie, he recently discovered his passion for skiing!
Read on and find out more about Matt, and his plans for 2023!
FBC: You are a passionate biker and now you are also a powder hungry skier. How did you first get into biking and skiing?
Matt: Well, biking, I started at a young age. I started when I was five. The doctors kind of told me I may never ride a bicycle, but I started with training wheels and then it kind of escalated from there. And then I guess around 2010, I started running for exercise. That’s when the doctors told me that running probably wasn’t the best thing, so then I really picked up the biking. Since I moved to Alberta in my teens, the biking has just escalated. I can’t get enough of it, all four seasons, whether it’s road biking, mountain biking, or fat biking in the winter.
In terms of skiing, it’s an interesting story. I was fat biking in November 2020 on a cross country ski trail, which you were allowed to fat bike on it as well. Someone stopped and got quite upset with me saying that I ruin these trails. And I explained, well, I’m allowed on here and I’m a meteorologist, I researched the trail conditions, and I won’t hurt the trail.
I told him I couldn’t ski, so what am I supposed to do? A blogger found out about the story and wrote to me, and then someone from Rocky Mountain Adaptive wrote to me and said: “You know, you can ski! Come with us”. And a few months later there I was skiing at Sunshine (Village) and ever since, I can’t get enough of it.
FBC: Could you tell us more about your current projects?
Matt: I do lots of stuff around the advisory on accessibility for the City of Calgary. Since I started skiing about a year ago, Rocky Mountain Adaptive came up to me and invited me to be on their board of directors. So, with them I do a lot of planning, a lot around accessible skiing, as well as accessible outdoor sports in the mountains. I also sit on the board of Calgary Adapted Hub, which facilitates adaptive sports of all types, for children.
So, I sit on three boards to do with accessibility, but on top of that, I just kind of live my life in a way that I do what I want to do.
Just in November, I met two friends in Fernie, and they’re so interested in what I do. They’ve skied with me already and they’re constantly asking me: “What’s next? How can we help you promote this?” On top of that, I do some public speaking. I’m speaking at an outdoor teaching conference in May to promote how to include people with disabilities in an outdoor teaching environment.
FBC: I think we got our third LA Nina Winter. You forecasted that, but we don’t have the snowfall that we thought we would get. Are you still enjoying winter and have you been fat biking or skiing more this winter?
Matt: I am for sure enjoying winter and we can always get more snow! But it’s enough out there for me to enjoy it. These days I find myself on the ski hill more than on the bike trail. I’ve just been enjoying skiing so much and improving every time. I can’t get enough of it. I did my first blue run just a few weeks ago.
FBC: What are your goals for 2023?
Matt: My goals were, and I’ve already achieved one: Ski without the instructor. I’ve done that twice now. Two: Ski at a different hill other than Sunshine (Village), and I’ve done that too. I’m hoping to ski a third hill before the season is over.
I’m also hoping to do more public speaking to get my message out there, to further adapt the sports, particularly in the mountains and particularly in Fernie. I am very passionate about Fernie and I’m hoping to spread the word and to get more stuff going around adaptive sports.
FBC: Do you have any advice for people with or without a disability to get into biking and skiing?
Matt: Just follow what you want to do. Never think you can’t do something if you have a disability. If you love winter, find a way to try skiing. There are organizations out there that will support your ability and allow you to do it. So go out there and try it!
And the same thing for biking. If you enjoy it, go for it. If you’re scared to bike for whatever reason, just give it a try. No one says you must stick with anything. Like I said, I never thought I’d be able to ski, so I never even tried it, and I was told by the doctors I may never ride a bicycle.
Now these two things are basically my two main hobbies and I that I can’t get enough. So just get out there and try. They’re good exercise, get you out in nature and are good social activities. You also meet new friends that way and we can never have enough good people around us.
Thanks, Matt, for taking the time to chat with us and inspiring us all to get out there and get after it.
Be sure to follow Matt at @MCorkum88 for more.