If Canada had a Para scuba diving team, Vernon’s Curt Minard would try out for it.
Minard, 41, who lost his left forearm in an industrial accident near Invermere in 2008, has represented Canada and won gold at the World Amputee Hockey Championships.
As a member of Canada’s Para-snowboard team, Minard has won three national Para snowboardcross championships and represented his country at his sport’s highest level, the 2018 Paralympics in Korea, where he placed sixth in both snowboardcross and banked slalom.
Injuries since then, specifically concussion problems, have led to Minard’s retirement from the Canadian Para snowboard team.
“When you play at a high level and you suffer injuries, they take much longer to heal at my age,” said Minard, taking a breather from building a shed at the Okanagan Landing home he shares with his wife, Heidi. “It’s one decision that I have struggled to come to terms with. But after my fifth concussion and the aftermath that haunted my spirit and ability to get physically healed, the time has come to check my health first and look back on the journey and accomplishments that I have experienced.”
With Heidi and his two sons’ blessing, Minard called it a career from the slopes. His family left the decision to him.
For Minard, there was no greater honour in his sporting life than wearing the Maple Leaf of Canada, both in hockey and snowboarding.
“I’m forever grateful for everyone believing in me and what I set out to accomplish for our program and my athletic career,” he said. “The road to Pyeonchang (Korea Paralympics) was not a path that came easy but a path that I reflect on that showed the accomplishments and grit to sacrifice every piece of your well-being to possibly taste victory.
“Most important, it showed myself what determination was within and how much we all love our country.”
He started a book in 2016 that he hopes to finish, and, of course, he’s got the shed building keeping him busy. Minard hopes to continue with the national team program as a mentor, and, when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, resume his career as a motivational speaker.
Minard and Heidi love to travel, which is where he picked up his newfound love for seeing things underwater.
“I love scuba diving,” he said. “I hope to do more of that and, of course, try to learn to relax.”
The hockey gold medal, three Canadian snowboard titles and competing at the Paralympics aside, Minard said one of his biggest thrills was being named Tim Hortons North Okanagan Athete of the Year in 2017-18.
“When you get noticed by your own community, that’s an awesome feeling,” said Minard. “I am extremely grateful for all of the support I received from Vernon and area during my career.”