Tyler says that his life has been defined by the fact that his right leg was amputated below the knee when he was a toddler because of a missing bone. He credits his amputation as allowing him to live a life that he never would have imagined otherwise. While he loved playing tennis and skateboarding as a child, at eight years old, he fell in love with skiing after attending the Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports camp.
As he grew up, Tyler devoted himself full time to training in Winter Park, Colorado and was named to the 2014 U.S. Paralympic National Team. He raced in the 2014 Sochi Paralympics Games, finishing 26th in the Giant Slalom. In 2015, he competed at the World Championships and placed 14th. He is training hard and wants to represent the U.S. at the 2018 Paralympic Games in PyeongChang.
I made my real change from casual skier to pursuing the Paralympics after being awarded a scholarship to attend the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics as a spectator. While watching the Games I realized that not only did I want to compete on that level, I knew that if I worked hard enough I could make it happen. I then buckled down and put all of my time and energy towards achieving that goal. I also asked myself every time I made a decision (no matter how big or small), “How would this affect my goals and help me get to Sochi?” It wasn’t always easy. I would spend my time in the gym instead of with friends, or miss family gatherings to attend ski races. In the end the it was so worth it to compete in Sochi 2014!
Similar to preparing for the 2014 Sochi Paralympics, my main priorities are staying healthy and getting quality training in. Obviously I can’t control everything in staying healthy (there’s not much to prevent a ski crash) but watching what I put in my body and staying active off the hill are two things I can control. Eating well, avoiding processed foods and sugars as much as possible, and of course, limiting if not completely cutting out alcohol. As for training, I go into practice each day with a focus and make every training run count.
I think a large part of my giving back to my communities is due to the number of people and organizations that have supported me over the years. Growing up I’ve always had the mentality that if someone helps you out, you return the favor. Now that I am in a position that I can be a role model for kids or actually make a difference in the world I feel it’s my responsibility to do so. Plus, I really enjoy it!
My favorite moment as a Classroom Champions mentor has to be when I got to spend part of a day with two of my classes last year. They were so excited to see me, but I think I was even more excited to see them. It was such a blast talking with them about their goals and making memories with them. I honestly didn’t want to leave.
My advice to kids is whenever you make a decision, think for a minute how that will affect your future. What you put in your body and what you do with your body matters. Take care of yourself so that you can achieve great things. Underage drinking will never ever help you achieve your goals and dreams. It is not only dangerous, but will have lasting effects on your body. Remember: be smart, think, and take care of yourself!