Friends and family of Victoria’s Braydon Luscombe weren’t letting the downhill skier leave for the 2018 Winter Paralympics without a proper sendoff.
Luscombe, a Quadra Village resident, flew to PyeongChang on Feb. 27 to prepare for his second Paralympics. The downhill events start Friday and Luscombe will be ready. Before departing, his presence was required at the Just For You Fashions clothing store on the corner of Cedar Hill Road and Finlayson where store owner Jackie Grooms and her mom (and store employee) Linda Rodger presented Luscombe with $2,000 to keep Luscombe on the slopes.
Luscombe, 25, who lost part of his right leg to flesh-eating disease when he was five, is a member of the Canadian National Para Alpine Ski team who has competed in the World Cup downhill season since 2012. In 2014, Luscombe represented Canada at the Sochi Winter Games and finished 16th in the downhill and 25th in the Super G. He’ll compete in those events, both individually and in the super combined, the slalom and possibly the giant slalom.
Canada! Are you ready? 🇨🇦
— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) March 1, 2018
The Paralympics start Friday with opening ceremonies and with the downhill ski event.
One thing is for sure, he’ll be bringing a lot of skis.
“In Sochi I crashed a few times and I also had some promising runs, I just couldn’t put the runs together,” Luscombe said. “And yeah, I will have about 10 sets of skis for PyeongChang.”
Since he started on the World Cup tour as a 17-year-old, Luscombe has 23 top-10 finishes including two sixth-place finishes from last year. In 2013 he was the national giant slalom champion.
Most recently he finished third at the World Cup stop in Kimberley on Feb. 11, a timely confidence boost heading to Korea.
His Monday afternoon visit to Just For You Fashions was a surprise in more ways than one.
“He knew we were going to give him money but we didn’t know we’d raise this much, a $1,000,” said Grooms, who matched the $1,000 raised by customers for the total of $2,000.
“The money is much appreciated, it’ll go directly into next season towards a new fleet of skis,” Luscombe said. “It’s been a struggle, there are sponsors who cover flights to the World Cup events, and a bit of money from the government [through the athlete assistance program] that helps.”
The connection between the Grooms and Luscombe started seven years ago when Jackie’s daughter Dariel began dating Luscombe. To aid Luscombe, Jackie recently placed a box in the store with Luscombe’s picture and story on it, and her mom, Rodger, a store employee, drove the campaign by happily reciting his story to anyone that came through the store.
The response was overwhelmingly positive, Rodger said.
“People opened their wallets. Whether it was emptying out all their pocket change or their bills.”
And Rodger had another surprise, catching both Luscombe and his mom off guard with a series of pictures taken when Luscombe was visited by Canadian Paralympic skier Gordon Tuck about 20 years ago. The photos were reprints from originals taken by Luscombe’s mom, and came to Rodger through a series of connections brought about by the store campaign.
“It’s great to see these, [to be honest] I don’t actually remember [that meeting],” smiled Braydon.
Luscombe grew up in the Cowichan area where Tuck was also from. Tuck had lost his leg in a logging accident before he turned to competitive para-skiing. Just a year after Luscombe lost his leg, his parents took him to Mount Washington to try skiing. He loved it. When word about Luscombe made its way to Tuck, the two-time Paralympian (Nagano 1998 and Salt Lake City 2002) visited the family.