Paralympian Braydon Luscombe merges art and high-performance sport

Skier transforms doodles and drawings into prosthetic fashion statement

 

By Kelsey Verboom

Waiting in the start gate, Braydon Luscombe takes a deep breath. The Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team athlete adjusts his goggles andstares forward, thinking of the line he wants to take down the course. The timer beeps, and he kicks out of the start, snow spraying up behind him as the timing wand wobbles in place. He’s soon following a rhythmic motion, travelling at more than 100 kilometres per hour and weaving in-and-out of gates on one muscled leg as quickly and efficiently as possible.

A focused state of mind on the race course is something the 22-year-old from Duncan, B.C., helps hone using a hobby that some might consider an unlikely match for high-speed sport: drawing. Travelling the world with the national team naturally results in stretches of downtime at airports and hotel rooms, and Luscombe occupies those gaps by filling notebooks with colourful doodles, drawings and tattoo designs.

“I’ve always loved art. It has always intrigued me,” he said. “Skiing and drawing definitely have similar elements. There are relaxing parts to both. When I’m skiing, there’s something about it that calms me and takes me into my own world, and I feel the same way when I draw.

“I like to be as creative as I can and have an open mind, and skiing demands the same approach. If something happens on the course, you have to adjust quickly, and having an open mind helps in those situations.”

Luscombe’s artwork appeared on his ski helmet at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games when he air-brushed a stylized red maple leaf onto it, and now, one year later, his drawings have again come to life; this time on a cover for his prosthetic leg.

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The national champion in giant slalom recently partnered with Canadian design studio the Alleles to transform his doodles into a wearable, 3D-printed prosthetic cover and personal fashion statement. Taking inspiration from trips to training camps in New Zealand, Luscombe and the Alleles incorporated the athlete’s Maori-inspired sketches into the cover’s grey-and-silver design.

Although Luscombe doesn’t ski wearing a prosthetic — many skiers with an above-knee amputation like Luscombe’s compete without a prosthetic, balancing on one ski and using two hand-held outriggers—he’s excited about the burgeoning fashion scene in the world of prosthetics, and the advancements in technology he has already witnessed since having his leg amputated as a child when he contracted flesh-eating disease.

“It’s hard to even describe the progress that has been made in the past 10 or 15 years,” he said. “They’re much sturdier and much more mechanical, they’re better-looking, and some even incorporate computer technology. I can’t imagine what it will be like in another 50 years. It’s going to be crazy.”

Luscombe and ten other Canadian athletes are competing at the IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in Panorama, B.C., which kicked off Feb. 28. The Canadians will be vying for top spot on the podium alongside more than 100 of the best para-alpine athletes from 25 countries. This is the first time the world championships have been held in North America, and Luscombe said he is looking forward to competing in front of the Canadian crowd.

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First Photo by: Mark Eleven Photography

Second Photo by: Malcom Carmichael