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