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Tuck aims to add world title to national gold
Clad in a custom drysuit, Gord Tuck spent last winter carving across Cowichan Lake’s bone-chilling waters.
It was a training regimen that paid off for the 40-year-old adaptive skier Aug. 12 in the form of a national championship title and a new Canadian record.
Tuck set back-to-back records in the Adaptive Slalom category of the 2013 Waterski Nationals — held at Calgary’s Predator Bay Waterski Club August 10 to 14 — carving out a spot for himself at this year’s World Disabled Waterski Championships in the process.
Tuck rounded 1.5 buoys at 51.5 kilometres per hour in his first slalom run on Sunday, Aug.11, said Tuck’s coach Shawn Shorsky, breaking the Canadian record of four buoys at 45 km/h, set by Tuck himself in 2008.
The following day, Tuck improved on that record by rounding two full buoys at 32 mph, Shorsky added.
Shorsky credited Tuck’s record-setting performance at nationals to his training regimen.
“He’s been busting his chops all season,” Shorsky said. “He’s been at the gym lots. He’s been on the water lots. He developed himself a solid yearly training plan and he’s been working solid on that.”
The 40-year-old father of two has taken his record-setting comeback in stride.
Tuck lost his left leg in a logging accident in 1991 at the age of 18.
An avid athlete and hobby skier during his youth, Tuck said he began playing sports again shortly after losing his leg.
His penchant for sport led him to spend 10 years — from 1995 through 2005 — competing with the Canadian Para-Alpine ski team and three seasons — from 2003 to 2005 — competing as a member of the national adaptive waterski team.
Tuck retired in 2005 when fatherhood — his daughters, aged six and nine, will cheer him on from home when he competes at the WDWC, he said — and running his own business proved to be too taxing.
He came out of retirement briefly in 2008 to set a new national record at Waterski Nationals, but he turned down an invitation to rejoin the team, leaving him free to focus on work and family.
Tuck owns and operates his own trucking and excavating company, an endeavour that saw him working seven days a week for extended periods of time, he said. His workload has since eased up and he’s now able to “work less and ski more,” he added.
Last summer, Shorsky — a neighbour and regular waterski partner — encouraged him to return to competition, Tuck said, and by midwinter, he “got serious.”
“Shawn and I have been skiing regularly all winter long out on Cowichan Lake,” Tuck added. “It’s cold, but it’s not unbearable.”
Tuck skied through spring and into summer, swapping his drysuit for a wetsuit as the mercury creeped up to tolerable levels.
Logging countless hours on the lake over the last year led to tangible improvements in Tuck’s skiing, he said, and he’s carved training runs on Cowichan Lake that would best his performance in Calgary.
Before leaving for Milan, Italy — host city to the 2013 WDWC — Tuck said: “If I can ski what I know I’m capable of, I should do alright.”
Tuck trained in Milan from Aug. 22 to 25, Shorsky said. Preliminaries began Aug. 29 and finals are scheduled for Sept. 1.
Shorsky confirmed that Tuck has “an exceptionally good chance of finishing on the podium” in Milan.
Tuck’s an “inspirational” athlete, Shorsky added, “and it’s hard to have a bad day when you’ve got somebody like him around. To watch what he does on the water is remarkable.”
Follow Tuck’s performance at the 2013 WDWC online at http://www.2013wdwc.com.