Braydon Luscombe is at his fastest on one ski, hurtling down a hill.
But when he comes back down from the mountain, he’s still active and athletic and ambitious and he needs his prosthetic leg to be able to keep up.
“This whole business of prosthetics, it’s not just to get someone a leg so they can walk,” he said. “It’s so they can do absolutely everything they want to do, or need to do.”
The 20-year-old aspiring Paralympian is from Duncan, but has been coming to Nanaimo’s B.D. Mitchell Prosthetic and Orthotic Services as long as he can remember. At age five, Luscombe lost his right leg to flesh-eating disease, a complication of an infection from chicken pox. He’s never allowed his handicap to hobble him.
“Right from the beginning, he wanted to ride his bike to the beach and with the same leg, negotiate rocks down to the shoreline and go swimming and then get back on the bike,” said prosthetist Bryan Mitchell.
So whether Luscombe was subjecting his artificial leg to salt water, or jarring the components, or busting a bearing, he was certainly getting every step’s worth. B.D. Mitchell has fitted him with six or seven prosthetic legs over the years, some more waterproof than others, some with titanium shocks, even one with flames painted on the side.
“He always sort of maximized the potential of any prosthetics that we could create for him,” Mitchell said.
And Luscombe is still determining maximum potential. As a member of Canada’s para-alpine national team, he’s been getting faster and faster and is all but assured of skiing in the Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia, this coming winter.
The Games have been a dream for a long time, he said. Former Paralympic skier Gord Tuck, from Lake Cowichan, was a family friend and a childhood inspiration.
Luscombe has always been comfortable on one ski – it’s the only way he’s ever known. It’s taken him to the world’s greatest ski resorts, down a mountain at 125 kilometres an hour, and in a few months, to a summit in Sochi.
That thought has driven his training to new heights. He wants to know, when he’s at the top of that hill, that he did everything he possibly could to be at his best.
That’s meant practice, weight training, cycling and generally putting a whole lot of kilometres on his prosthetic leg. Luscombe never complains of limitations, said Mitchell, so the prosthetist tries to be proactive and look for ways to help his client improve performance.
“Because he’s motivated, we’re motivated…” Mitchell said. “We’re proud to know that we’ve had the chance to work with him and we’re all rooting for him.”
It’s the “ultimate dream,” Luscombe said, to go to the Paralympics and do well.
“That’s what you’ve been working for … to wait for that minute you have on that course. It’s a huge buildup and if it produces something good, [it would be] a crazy good feeling.”