The Winter Empowerment Fund is a program service of the High Fives Non-Profit Foundation that provides support for alternative healing and therapies, rehabilitative and adaptive equipment to athletes that suffer a life altering injury while pursuing a dream in the winter action sports community. Funds are allocated to assist disabled athletes in the recovery process and help achieve goals in the sports they love. Jasmin Bambur and Sally Francklyn are both grant recipients of the Winter Empowerment Fund. Recently, Sally interviewed Jasmin…
When you think of exercise, you usually go out and, well, exercise. But you can also see athletes compete, which should motivate you. That’s where Jasmin Bambur comes in. His back was injured in 2000, but that hasn’t changed his life now. The Sochi Olympics will be his second time competing, and he still takes it seriously. He plans on sit-skiing in Super G and Downhill, but he’s recently improved at racing Slalom. We caught up with him to find out how his life has changed, and what his plans for competing in the Olympics are.
(Sally Francklyn): Who are you, as an athlete?
(Jasmin Bambur): As an athlete, I “stand” for dedication and excellence. I have been a professional athlete most of my life. I started playing Team Handball professionally at the age of 16 and ever since my passion has been for sports. I took a little break after an automobile accident that left me paralyzed from the waist down, but I was back in sports after one year. It is one thing to play sports, but completely different when you are a professional athlete dedicating everything you have to be the best that you can be. I hate to lose and this is why I always train harder than all of my competitors. I also believe that competing with integrity plays a big role in being a great athlete.
(SF): Do you know what run you will do at the Sochi Olympics?
(JB): I am hoping to race in the Super G and Downhill. However, it is up to my coaches to decide the line up before the games. I will give 100%, no matter which event I compete in. Recently, my Slalom has been improving tremendously, so I would not pass up the opportunity to race Slalom as well.
(SF): I noticed that you race around the world. What has been your favorite place?
(JB): My favorite place to race is La Molina, Spain. My first year of racing, I got on the podium at Europa Cup Finals at La Molina. That was my first medal. I also love to race and my home mountain is Winter Park, Colorado. My most favorite place to free ski is Jackon Hole, Wyoming. It is always steep and deep! My favorite places to ski and party are in Kopaonik, Serbia and KitzBuhel, Austria.
(SF): The Sochi Olympics will be your second time racing at the Olympics. What was your first?
(JB): My first time competing at the Paralympics Games was in Vancouver, Canada. My best result was 9th place in downhill. I was so overwhelmed by the magnitude of the moment. For me, just being able to race in the Paralympics was a great achievement.
Going in to Sochi is a whole different ballgame. I believe that I have a great chance of winning a medal this time while representing USA. Our team of coaches and staff are doing an excellent job in prepping us for success in Sochi. We started training in June in Mt. Hood, Oregon. I currently train five days a week, two times a day either in the gym or on the slopes. I have worked for the last four years for the opportunity to race for gold in the Paralympics and I will do anything in my power to achieve that.
(SF): How has the High Fives Foundation has positively affected your life?
(JB): The High Fives Foundation helped ease the financial burden of being a Paralympic athlete. In order to preform at the highest level, we have to train all the time. I spend eight hours a day training in Winter Park. After that, I usually pick up my kids and go home. Knowing that an organization like High Fives Foundation is supporting me and my family, clears my mind and allows me to concentrate on ski racing. I believe that the High Fives Foundation has contributed a great deal to my success.
(SF): What are your respective goals (in the winter action sports community and life)?
(JB): My goals in winter action sports are to win a medal at the 2014 Paralympic Games and a crystal globe at the world cup race. My goal in life is to set a positive example for newly injured people. When I first got injured, I had a hard time finding a role model or a person I could relate to. I was fortunate to finally find good people to lead me in the right direction. My positive attitude, commitments to sports, and how I live my life are examples that life in a wheelchair is possible. It also can be a great life. With a positive support system and community involvement, we all can create a better place for everybody.