I am Brittani Coury, a 2018 Paralympic Silver Medalist in Snowboard Banked Slalom in PyeongChang South Korea. I want to share my story of tragedy, triumph and the road to BIG Dreams with you in the hopes that it will help inspire and motivate you to pursue your passions and your dreams too.
Mine Is A Story of Passion
I have had a passion for snowboarding since the first time I strapped a snowboard to my feet as a teenager. Snowboarding was a place I could be free. It was an outlet for my teenage struggles, hurt, and the heartbreak I had experienced in my challenging childhood. The mountains were a place where I belonged, I could fit in, and all my insecurities would vanish as I threw 100% of myself into my passion. Until, at age 17, I sustained a severe injury to my ankle.
Despite the doctors warning to slow down and give my ankle time to heal, I got back on my snowboard as soon as I could and suffered excruciating amounts of pain for the next 8 years. At 21 years of age, my ankle was so large I could no longer fit it into my snowboard boot. From age 21 to 25, I had nine ankle surgeries to try and fix my mangled joint.
Doctors wanted to fuse my ankle, which would mean I could no longer do extreme sports or absorb any impact without causing injuries further up my body (knees, hip, or back). I did my own research and came up with an “extreme” idea, I decided that amputating my leg below the knee would be my best option to live the active and passionate life I desired.
“The day I lost my leg …I regained my life!” Brittani Coury
A Pivot Towards Giving Back: My Career as an RN
During my surgeries, my nurses were incredible and inspired me. I knew what it felt like to be a patient, and struggle with tough medical decisions, family dynamics, and the choice of being disabled. I developed a second passion and set a new goal of becoming a nurse.
I graduated from nursing school in 2016, at the top of my class, as class president, and won the Graduate Recognition Award for designing a program to tutor my fellow students. I worked through nursing school as a medical assistant and lived in what was formerly the office of a cabinet shop, without a shower or kitchen.
In this trying time, I survived living without basic necessities, and learned to focus and harness all my energy to achieve a goal. One night I watched the Sochi Paralympic Games and told myself “I know I can do that.” So my next big dream began…
Para Athletic Career Begins
After graduating from nursing school, I choose to do one snowboard race in my new prosthetic leg. I had dreamed of getting back to the snow, and I longed for the freedom and the power of my passion for snowboarding.
When I completed my first Para-Snowboard race I had been back on a snowboard for only 12 days. I finished second to last. However, the U.S. Paralympic Team coaches were in the crowd watching and I caught their attention.
From this big risk, my first race, I began my new path, completing more races and eventually landing a spot on the U.S. Paralympic Snowboard Team. Once again, I took a leap of faith. I quit my job as a nurse to dedicate myself to the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games. At the games, I went through every emotion humanly possible, from the pride of representing my country, to the feeling of failure when I fell in my boardercross competition.
I knew I was placed at the Paralympic Games for a purpose larger than myself, so I kept my focus on the Banked Slalom event. I gave this race everything I had and drew on everything I learned on my journey so far. And I was overwhelmed with excitement and joy when I won the Silver Medal. I can still remember my fixation on the flag of the United States of America as it was raised at the medal ceremony, breaking up a Dutch podium sweep.
Mine is a story of tragedy that brought me to my knees …and a rebirth into my Passion with purpose. I hope to attract women to sport, encourage all people to live a BIG LIFE and share my story to inspire others to do what it takes to be their very best. Right now my best will be at the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing, China.