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Disabled veteran becomes Olympic hopeful

Posted at 3:13 PM, Nov 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-12 15:13:45-05

UTAH (KUTV) — Tyler Burdick remembers his first job out of high school. He was a snowboard instructor at Snowbird. A gruesome injury while serving in Afghanistan had him convinced he would never snowboard, or perhaps even walk, again.

In 2010, Burdick was serving his third tour of duty for the Marines in Afghanistan, as a combat medic. He had one week left before he would return home.

He describes a somewhat routine expedition.

“We were conducting a mounted patrol, we were in some armored vehicles,” said Burdick.

There was word that a bomb was hidden on the road ahead. Tyler says his unit couldn’t find it, but it found them. The explosion shredded the bottom of the armored truck he was riding in.

“Nobody was killed luckily, everybody in the cab was knocked out, except for me, I was somehow blessed with the memory of all of it,” said Burdick as he recounted the events of that fateful day.

Tyler was medavaced to Bethesda, Maryland, where doctors worked to salvage his badly damaged legs and feet. He admits he thought he would lose both feet. Yet, doctors were convinced they could save his limbs and enable him to walk again.

Now three years later, Burdick is able to walk, run and even snowboard.

“My feet were completely shattered and my ankles were fused,” said Burdick as he demonstrated the braces on his feet that allow him to shift his weight and pivot on his toes.

“I decided if I was able to get back on a snowboard, then I would consider myself recovered, and I wouldn’t feel disabled anymore,” Burdick said.

Tyler’s recovery goes well beyond just being able to snowboard. He is competing to earn a spot on Team USA’s Paralympic Snowboard team, that will represent the US in Russia next March. “I can’t even believe it’s happening.”

Earlier this year, Burdick earned a silver medal at the Paralympics National Championships. That performance made him a frontrunner to become a member of the ten person team that’s headed to Sochi. He’ll spend the next couple months competing in world championships to qualify for the Paralympics.

Burdick is raising money to fund his training. Click here if you would like to help.