WIN­TER PAS­SION:

Alpine Observer - - Front Page - BY JUSTIN JENVEY jjen­vey@ ne­me­dia.com.au

Ja­son Sauer pic­tured ski­ing at Mt Hotham last month has an ex­tra­or­di­nary story to tell. The Sun­shine Coast man be­came a dou­ble am­putee in 2011 af­ter a drug over­dose al­most claimed his life. Since the loss of both his legs, Sauer has gone on to ski and bob­sled at World Cup level and now the 46 year-old is pre­par­ing for a new sport­ing chal­lenge as a mem­ber of Aus­tralia’s first para ice hockey team.

SINCE sur­viv­ing a drug over­dose, Ja­son Sauer has gone on to ski at World Cup level and rep­re­sent Aus­tralia in bob­sled.

In a lit­tle over a month he’ll add an­other achieve­ment to his sport­ing re­sume when he pulls on the green and gold in ice hockey.

Sauer didn’t come out of his 2010 drug over­dose un­scathed, it left him a dou­ble am­putee - surgery to re­move both his legs saved his life.

He bat­tled drug ad­dic­tion for al­most two decades, first ex­per­i­ment­ing with mar­i­juana when he was 15 years old be­fore be­ing in­tro­duced to much harder drugs be­fore he was even 18.

It was a heroin over­dose on Christ­mas Day in 2010 that re­sulted in Sauer los­ing both his legs.

With it came the re­al­i­sa­tion he needed to get sober for good, be grate­ful for what he had and still con­tribute to so­ci­ety.

“I sulked for the first year and then I got to a point when it dawned on me there’s enough an­gry and re­sent­ful peo­ple on the planet so I thought I might as well make the most of what’s left or just check out,” the now 46 yearold said.

Mr Sauer who spends his win­ters at Mt Hotham, grew up ski­ing and snow­board­ing.

Af­ter his ac­ci­dent it was in the United States in 2012 where he took to the snow again.

That Jan­uary, in Park City, Utah, he hit the slopes on a sit ski for the first time and af­ter mas­ter­ing that be­gan rac­ing in Fe­bru­ary.

He’s since achieved top 10 fin­ishes in World Cup com­pe­ti­tion and had am­bi­tions of a place in Aus­tralia’s Par­a­lympic team for Pyeongchang.

For the past two north­ern win­ters Sauer has also been Aus­tralia’s lone para bob­sled pilot.

Af­ter only get­ting to six World Cup meets in each of his first two sea­sons he’s hope­ful of this year rac­ing all 10 events and the World Cham­pi­onships.

“Be­fore I got sober again and found sport I couldn’t see that life was go­ing to be fun,” Mr Sauer said.

“But by meet­ing some other adap­tive sports­men and get­ting in­volved in sport I got to ex­pe­ri­ence that life can still be en­joy­able.”

Be­fore Sauer takes to the ice in his sled, the for­mer a plumber and se­cu­rity guard will head to Fin­land as a mem­ber of Aus­tralia’s first ever para ice hockey team.

“It’s some­thing I tried when I was in Park City back in 2012 and have spent the last 12 months train­ing in Mel- bourne and Bris­bane,” he said.

“What ap­peals to me is it’s a con­tact sport.

“I ob­vi­ously don’t get to play many con­tact sports, ac­tu­ally this is the only con­tact sport that I can play re­ally, but it’s also good for my res­pi­ra­tory fit­ness.”

Mr Sauer said the Aus­tralian team for the World Cham­pi­onship tour­na­ment is made up of am­putees as well as peo­ple with spinal cord in­juries and oth­ers with con­gen­i­tal birth de­fects.

Hav­ing spent much of the past two months ski­ing at Mt Hotham, Ja­son will now re­turn home to Queens­land to be­gin his prepa­ra­tions for the Novem­ber ice hockey event.

“It was a short­ened win­ter than nor­mal for me, I missed out on some good ski­ing in June and early July but as al­ways I re­ally en­joyed what time I spent at Hotham,” he said.

“I was test­ing a new seat over win­ter and be­fore head­ing back up to Queens­land I’ll stop in Mel­bourne to make an­other seat.

“To be a part of the first na­tional team is pretty cool.

“I’m a rea­son­ably fast skater so I’ll be a for­ward but which wing I’ll play on I’ll prob­a­bly find out at our train­ing camp over in Fin­land.”

You can sup­port Ja­son Sauer in his para ice hockey and bob­sled pur­suits by mak­ing a do­na­tion at https://asf.org.au/ ath­letes/ja­son­sauer/.

PHOTO: Chris Hock­ing

PHOTO: Chris Hock­ing.

SNOW PAS­SION: Ja­son Sauer who calls Mt Hotham home dur­ing win­ter is get­ting ready to com­pete on the world stage in a new sport.

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