Tuck calls fifth-place finish a missed opportunity

Disabled skier says his best race would have put him on the podium, but he returns from Italy with a renewed dedication to Team Canada

Nick Bekolay

Lake Cowichan Gazette



Gord Tuck returned from the World Disabled Waterski Championships empty handed, save for a renewed sense of commitment to his fellow Team Canada skiers.

Competing in the preliminary rounds of the WDWC’s slalom event — hosted at a “beautiful, world-class site” in Milan, Italy Aug. 29 — Tuck “blew it” while approaching his first gate.

“I was hoping for a top-three finish,” Tuck explained, “and if I would have skied as I normally do, I would have ended up (on the podium).”

Unfortunately for Tuck, he started his first pass late, a miscalculation veteran skiers make on “one in a hundred” runs, he said.

“I blew it, but you pick yourself back up and carry on. I ended up fifth overall in the slalom.”

Tuck may not have achieved the goals he’d set for himself in slalom, but competing alongside his Canadian teammates instilled in him a newfound sense of national-team spirit.

Commenting on Team USA’s tendency to win competitions through the sheer size of their squad —Team USA fielded 13 skiers compared to Canada’s five-man squad — Tuck said he’s planning on expanding his skiing repertoire to better Team Canada’s chances of a future top-three finish.

Canada finished fourth overall this year, Tuck said, and if he “would’ve tricked and jumped — even if I hadn’t posted podium results — we probably would’ve moved into third place as a team.”

Tuck’s strategy moving forward includes a visit to Radar Lake in suburban Seattle in the coming weeks.

While there, he and coach Shawn Shorsky will work with Radar Skis, a Washington-based manufacturer, to test and modify a new custom-built, carbon-fibre slalom ski designed specifically for Tuck’s right-footed stance (he lost his left leg in a logging accident at the age of 18).

“We’re going to experiment with some designs and build a bunch of skis we like before we come on home,” Tuck said, acknowledging that he feels incredibly fortunate to do what “nobody else in his world” gets to do.

As summer slowly fades to fall, Tuck said he plans to spend considerable amounts of time out on Cowichan Lake polishing his slalom performance while dusting off his jumping and trick-skiing skills.

Through his newfound devotion to the full skiing trinity, Tuck hopes to propel Team Canada to new heights at future competitions.

“I don’t know that I’ll train hard enough to be a top-three trick skier or jumper,” Tuck said, “but if I can finish in the top 10, it’ll be good for Team Canada. I’ll train this winter and we’ll test it out in the Pan Am [Games] next year.”