Seventeen year old Tyler Stern has been skiing since he was four years old. Diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia, a subset of cerebral palsy that affects all four limbs, Tyler had difficulty walking and with mobility in general. His parents, who are avid skiers themselves, relied on the expertise of adaptive ski instructors at Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra, a chapter of Disabled Sports USA. At his first lesson, instructor Kathy Copeland guided him down the hill using a slider, which is similar to a walker. Tyler skied that way for the next two years.
A regular at Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra, he participated in a number of its adaptive winter sports programs and camps, including the Paralympic Academy, Alpine Race Camp, Biathlon Camp, Nordic Camp, and others. “I will never forget his courage and determination and that look of glee as he felt the stoke of skiing. He is an inspiration for our other athletes, staff and volunteers,” said Copeland, Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra Executive Director. Since 2013, he’s attended every The Hartford Ski Spectacular, an event hosted by Disabled Sports USA for 30 years.
In 2014, Tyler was recognized as a Diana Golden scholarship recipient and became a member of the DSUSA E-Team for Nordic skiing. The E-Team is designed to support and empower emerging youth athletes (ages 13-24) with disabilities who are training competitively in sports that are featured in the summer and winter Paralympic Games.
Tyler’s interest is in biathlon, a dual sport consisting of Nordic skiing and rifle marksmanship. For the past 10 years, Tyler has been participating in biathlon camps put on by Maggie Palchak, Paralympic Program Director of Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra, and BethAnn Chamberlain, a Paralympic Development Coach at the U.S. Biathlon Association.
The California native regularly competes in biathlons. “I like competing and I enjoy going fast,” Tyler said. When it comes to biathlons, he admits he is better at skiing than shooting. He also tends to be one of the youngest individuals in many of the competitions he enters.
Tyler doesn’t just limit himself to winter sports. He equally enjoys summer sporting events as well. Through Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra, he has participated in cycling and paddling camps. This year, he also became a dual season E-Team member by adding handcycling to the mix. Tyler competes in triathlons as well, including the June Lake Triathlon that he has entered the past eight years.
Although he hasn’t gone through the classification process yet, Tyler does plan to undertake that effort next year. Currently a senior at Murrieta Valley High School, he is very active in school, being an A student, an Eagle Scout, and an aspiring actor in his drama class. He is enjoying that aspect of his life before fully immersing into competition. Once he does, there is no doubt he will be successful.
After all, his favorite quote comes from Walt Disney: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”