For World TEAM Sports’ 2010 Sea to Shining Sea participant Eric Frazier, the 3,687 mile journey across North America by hand cycle was simply training. Traveling from the Pacific Ocean at San Francisco to the Atlantic Ocean at Virginia Beach, Frazier used the miles and more than 110,000 feet of elevation gain and loss to strengthen his arms and upper body to prepare for his participation in competitive cross-country racing and biathlon as an elite sit skier.
A 27-year-old retired Marine, Frazier suffered a spinal cord injury in 2005 that requires he use a wheelchair. In 2007, Frazier left his rehabilitation hospital and participated in the Face of America, World TEAM Sports’ two-day ride from Washington to Gettysburg. Reports Frazier, it was “a ride that changed my life!”
Continuing to train and strengthen his body following the inspiring ride, Frazier set out in the winter of 2009-10 to compete in cross-country sit skiing. “I find it to be one of the hardest sports I have ever done, both able-bodied, as well as adaptive,” reports the Pittsburgh native. Competing at the highest level of the sport, Frazier reports he nearly made the 2010 United States Paralympics Team, but just missed out. Owing to his dedication, the US Olympic/Paralympics Committee, along with US Biathlon, invited him to come “to Vancouver as part of an Ambassador/Alternate program, to hopefully get me addicted to Biathlon and it worked. I really enjoyed myself and learned a lot. I decided to take Biathlon very serious and train hard–that’s when I decided to do the S2SS ride and use that ride as my cardio base.”
For the 2010-11 cross-country season, Frazier has competed exceptionally well. In the Cross Country Skiing National Championships at Black Mountain of Maine, he took third place in several sit skiing events, including the 10K and 15K races. Following the January 1-8 championships, Frazier ranked third nationally and first in his LW-11 division.
Noting that “it feels amazing!” to be one of the leading sit skiers in the United States in only his second season, Frazier plans to compete in the IPC World Cup event in Vuokatti, Finland January 15-23. “There is no doubt in my mind that we will be a lethal threat to the Russians on their turf at the next Paralympics in Sochi, Russia,” Frazier reports.
Until the March, 2014 Winter Paralympics, Frazier will continue to train and compete, in winter sit ski cross country and biathlon events, and in summer cycling rides. With his dedication and enthusiasm, gold may very well be in America’s future.