Collin Cameron, Para nordic skiing, three-time Paralympics bronze medallist
The countdown is on until the world finds out that Collin Cameron’s speed is a game changer.
Fuelled by a healthy diet of loud hard rock music and living the dream of being an athlete, Canada’s top sit-skier has bold goals for Beijing. Golden goals.
And there’s a big reason to believe the three-time Paralympic bronze medallist is the man to get the job done following kick-ass world championship and world cup performances.
But wait, there’s more. A teensy bit of extra motivation for Cameron might come from being only 0.9 seconds away from gold at 2018 PyeongChang. Just maybe.
“All that being said, the main part of racing for me is just finding joy in this and still being happy with my result no matter what the end result is,” said Cameron, 33. “If I go out and I feel like I had my best race and I finish fifth, well, I’m happy for that. It’s the sport for me.”
Built like a wall and self-described as a low key guy, Cameron’s easy to like – a regular, friendly face at the Canmore library; someone teammate’s can joke around with; unafraid to wager shaving off his exceptional beard if he wins the big races; and the DJ of car playlists on European tours.
“I won’t push my extreme heavy music on most of the team,” he said with a laugh.
The one thing Cameron does push is the pace. It’s something he’s gotten great at doing since making the switch to Para nordic skiing in 2015 from sledge hockey.
The former fast guy for the Sudbury Northern Sliders, Cameron’s gifts have well been known in smaller circles for a much longer time.
“I was always naturally fast on the sled like when I started playing hockey it was my forte,” said Cameron. “That’s how the team used me, they were like this guy is really fast, so let’s use him and use that speed that he has.”
He was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that causes a shortening of the lower limbs, and an under-development of muscles and tendons in the legs.
Growing up in Ontario’s cottage country and watching the Olympics and hockey, it was Cameron’s biggest dream to like the athletes on TV.
Once the Northern Sliders organization time neared its end, Cameron wasn’t done with chasing his Holy Grail.
“I was on the team for two and half years and that was my real taste of like any kind of Para sport and I friggin’ loved it,” he said.
“There wasn’t really any programs for kids like me growing up with a disability so to finally have access to that in my late 20s like it was still life changing for me so I just grabbed a hold of it and jumped into it.”
He Googled and looked for anything in the Para-realm when he came across sit-skiing, which is like one giant ski boot you sit in with hand poles used for propulsion.
Within a few days, Cameron was roller-skiing in a sit-ski and fell in love with it. In just a few years, he was on the podium at 2018 PyeongChang and winning gold in world cups and at world championships. This past spring he moved to Canmore for the final bit of training to get an edge on competition in the lead up to Beijing, where his No. 1 goal is in the sprint race.
“I think I’m still in my prime like I don’t even think I’m truly in my prime yet for our sport,” Cameron said. “When you look historically back at some of the athletes doing this and I think still have at least four more years after this of competing at the highest level if I want to.”
Come Beijing, the world will have to wait and see if another beard-shaving wager is on the line.