Park City Resident Makes History At Utah Olympic Park
A Park City resident made history yesterday as he becomes the first paraplegic to compete in an able-bodied bobsled competition.
The International Bobsleigh and Skelton Federation is holding the North Americans cup in Park City this week. One of those competing at the Utah Olympic Park is Park City resident Dave Nicholls.
“This is an able-bodied race for able-bodied folks, but I actually qualified our sled to be a part of this race. It’s the first time there’s ever been a wheelie guy or paraplegic racing in a North America Cup. I actually race for the country of Israel and I’m their only bobsled pilot, so this is a history making event for the sport and for Israel.”
Nicholls has been pioneering bobsleigh for Paralympic athletes, he explains why he’s racing for Israel.
“Our vision has been to one day have it as a Paralympic sport. We were advised by the International Paralympic Committee that we needed to have a minimum of 12 nations at every event in order to qualify the criteria that they wanted. We knew in advance last year that at some races we would have 14 countries, some we would have 11, some we would have 12. The International Federation and the U.S. put out a memo asking if anyone had dual citizenship, we needed to have a 12th nation to make sure we comply with the requirements with the International Olympic Committee and the Paralympic Committee to qualify and make this a full-medal Paralympic sport. So, I had the opportunity and the ability to get dual citizenship with Israel. So, I flew to Israel, I did that and got the support of the Israeli Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee and we now have a 12th nation for sure. So, we hope that will help the sport qualify as a full-medal Olympic sport.”
Two months ago, Nicholls received word that Parabobsled would not be offered at the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing, but that hasn’t stopped Nicholls from continuing to compete in both able-bodied and Para circuits.
“The rules for able-bodied bobsled allow a driver to start seated in case he pulls a hamstring or is injured so it doesn’t take out the whole team if it’s a two-man team. So, with that rule, they allow me to start seated and, in that way, we qualified and met all the requirements to qualify for the able-bodied race. I’ll still do the para circuit as well, which is the mono-bob one-person sled. I’ll continue to do the two-man team as long as I have a brakeman who must be Israeli. So that’s a little challenging, but we found one and he’s good and we have a good team and we hope to podium.”