Pain’s just part of the game

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Painkillers – that’s how top Kiwi amputee snowboarder Carl Murphy will get through back-to-back competitive races at Cardrona Alpine Resort.

Murphy, a below-the-knee amputee from New Plymouth, wears a special prosthetic when racing.

The foot of the prosthetic has a built-in mountain bike shock absorber.

But even with that technological gizmo, the reigning New Zealand champion often finds himself having to push through the pain barrier.

“I try not to do more than three to four hours a day just because of the impact on my stump.

“It can get quite bad bruising. Painkillers play a big part if I have a few days racing in a row.”

Murphy plans to have some of the little helpers handy during the Adaptive Snow Sports Festival and National Championships starting at Cardrona on Sunday.

He has national champs races next Tuesday and Wednesday before taking part in the first-ever Adaptive Snowboard World Champs race on the Thursday.

The world champs snowboard-cross race – which Murphy likens to motocross on snow – requires competitors to negotiate a downhill obstacle course as quickly as possible.

“Most probably I will have to have some painkillers to numb the bruising. But when the adrenaline gets going you tend to forget about the pain,” he says.

The 30-year-old, based in Wanaka for the winter, has been instrumental in bringing the world champs to NZ for the first time, drumming up support while competing overseas.

Its success will be part of a push to have adaptive snowboard racing included in the Winter Paralympics for 2014.

Murphy almost guarantees himself a podium finish at the world champs and is confident he can win it, but says tough competition is expected from Canadians and Americans. “The course, from what I’ve seen, will suit my riding style – it looks pretty fast and quite technical.”

He’s in top form heading into the event, winning gold and silver medals during racing at the United States nationals and a third in the Canadian champs earlier this year.

The festival itself is focused on giving recreational skiers and boarders coaching and experience alongside elite competitors such as Murphy.