Yampa Valley snowboarder pushed through gruesome injury at Paralympics
Leading up to the 2022 Paralympic Games Noah Elliott told a few people he was having leg issues, but he didn’t disclose the extent of his injury until recently. With his femur sticking out of at the amputation site on his left leg, the Hayden resident still finished fourth and sixth in his two events in Beijing.
Throughout the winter, the 24-year-old Hayden resident was a medal favorite and he was confident he could bring home some hardware to add to his gold and bronze from the 2018 Games. While he didn’t accomplish that goal, he is still proud of what he did at his second Paralympic Games.
“Although I didn’t get on the podium like I did in Korea, in China, I learned the bigger picture,” Elliott said. “I still think I had a gold medal performance because of all the things I learned over the last couple months and at the Games, like how strong I can be mentally and physically and still do what I love.”
The next Winter Paralympics in Italy are four years away, but Elliott is already invested in getting back and proving he is one of the best para snowboarders in the world.
“I have every intention of going to Cortina in 2026 and crushing it,” he said.
Back at World Championships in early January, Elliott discovered blood pooling in his prosthetic due to friction between the prosthetic and his leg. He pushed through to win the dual banked slalom event in Lillehammer, Norway, but went home before competing in snowboard cross to try to solve the issue. Unfortunately, he learned surgery would be the only way to address the issue. So, he figured, why not put it off a couple weeks for the sake of the Parlaympics.
The issue arose for a few reasons. Elliott’s amputation probably wasn’t done perfectly, but it was also done when he was 17, so he has continued to grow since the surgery. Additionally, the injury got infected, making it all the more uncomfortable for Elliott leading up to Beijing.
While his teammates and opponents spent the time between World Champs and the Games on snow, perfecting their turns and staying in competition shape, Elliott wasn’t on snow. He avoided putting his prosthetic leg on unless he was on a board, which he put off for as long as possible.
When Elliott arrived in Beijing, he was on crutches and hadn’t been on snow in over a month.
“I couldn’t do more than what I needed to do,” he said. “I had the least amount of time on snow and definitely the least amount of training on every course.”
Come competition time, Elliott grimaced through his first snowboard cross race since mid-December.
“It was extremely painful and was something you could see as the day went on,” Elliott said. “If you watch the races at all, you can see it on my face. It was a struggle but I really wanted it, and despite everything I was still riding very well.”
Elliott advanced to the semifinals, but didn’t make the cut to the large final. He competed in the small final, where he finished second, good for sixth overall. Elliott doesn’t think the injury was the reason he fell short of his goal, but more that the track benefited heavier riders.
A few days later, he competed in banked slalom. His leg was tender from seeing more action in the past week than it had in the previous month.
Elliot ended up fourth in banked slalom, just shy of the podium.
Now that he’s home, Elliot is meeting with experts and scheduling a surgery for a date in the next week or so.
He will have to spend some time without a prosthetic and recover, but he has plenty of activities to fall back on that he’s used to doing in the summer anyway.
“I’ll definitely be doing some fly fishing,” Elliot said. “I’ll be doing some rock climbing. I love rock climbing and working out a ton, just rebuilding my strength and coming back stronger.”
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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