Paralysis doesn’t keep Goodwin from winning medals
ASPEN — It’s easy to spot Garrett Goodwin on his snowmobile, with a roll bar that extends high into the air.
Goodwin, paralyzed from the waist down after a motocross accident in 2011 that broke three vertebrae, said the roll bar was added for safety.
Still, with an unconventional sled and the significant disadvantage of being unable to stand, Goodwin won the silver medal during the SnoCross adaptive snowmobiling final Sunday at the Winter X Games at Buttermilk Mountain.
After momentarily taking the lead, Goodwin came up short during an uphill triple-jump, losing a significant amount of speed. Mike Schultz, the eventual winner, was able to power through the triple-jump because he can stand up on his snowmobile.
The ability to absorb shock, as well as more precise turning and control of a sled, gives a huge advantage to racers who can engage their leg muscles.
But the gap between adaptive racers who can stand and those who can’t is closing, Goodwin said.
Technology that adds a spring on the seat allows for more give on hard landings and a joint near the base of the seat allows racers to lean in their seat to turn the sled.
He said one of the goals of adaptive racing is to use springs and shocks to mimic what riders can do using their legs.
“We kinda designed it so the shock in the back (of the seat) works like your legs would work, dampening any blows,” Goodwin said. “The center axis allows me to turn and do things like that. There are a couple springs underneath all of this to keep everything stable and keep it together. You know, if I didn’t have it, I’d be falling off everywhere.”
The 23-year-old racer from the Chicago area won the bronze medal last winter.
“I mean, last year was my rookie year, so I was new to this,” Goodwin said. “But I think I’ve earned some respect and my team has done a great job. I’ve put in a lot of work and my team has put in a lot of work to get the sled ready.
“You know, I haven’t been hurt for too long and what we’ve been able to do to develop this seat, and develop this machine, has been amazing.”