Not many people share Pramod Thapa’s drive and determination.
He only started skiing two seasons ago, and yet he had three podium finishes in Whistler last April, beaten only by provincial team members at the B.C. Provincial Para-Alpine Championships.
Born with cerebral palsy, the eighteen-year-old already had a black belt in karate coming from Nepal, and embraced skiing and downhill biking since moving to Canada.
And now, he can add Athlete of the Year to his list of accomplishments. Thapa recently received the recognition from the Disabled Skiers Association of B.C.
Dick Taylor, Adaptive Sports at Sun Peaks chair, accepted the award on behalf of Thapa at the association’s AGM.
It wasn’t too long ago when Taylor accompanied Thapa on his first ski lesson. Thapa’s teachers contacted Taylor, saying they had a student who might need some assistance in skiing.
“I did the first lesson that day and he did extremely well,” recalled Taylor. “It sort of went from there.”
Now, just a couple of seasons later, people are starting to see the potential in the extremely driven young man.
“It’s the first time he’s been noticed and (the award indicates) that they’re watching him,” said Jim Knowles, Thapa’s primary coach. “All his training, his biking, his gymnastics led up to that.”
Knowles said he doesn’t push Thapa to train: “The kid’s driven; he’s an athlete,” he reiterates.
“He’s at the gym four times a week. He bikes three times a week. And we’re talking three hours in the gym, three hours on the bike,” said Knowles.
In the midst of summer training, Thapa even found time to compete on the Gran Fondo Highwood Pass, a 147 km, 6,500 ft elevation endurance ride in Alberta.
A jam-packed training season is still ahead. Thapa will train with the B.C. Provincial Para-alpine Team and compete in all four races on the provincial team’s schedule this winter. He’s also planning to do five international races, having recently received an International Paralympic Committee (IPC) classification that allows him to compete abroad. His first international race will be at Breckenridge, Colorado.
At the rate that this prodigy is going, Knowles is confident that Thapa will someday make it as a champion on the world stage.
“Our main goal now is not just to get to the Olympics; our goal now is to win. That can happen.”