Jedidiah Snelson insists the challenges and adversity he faced after becoming a complete paraplegic in 2014 is no different than what able bodied people experience in regular life.
- “All adversity is equal. People look at me and visually they assume what I face is greater than what they face, and it’s not true. I was 34 when I was paralyzed, and the adversity I have faced since isn’t any different than things I experienced before,” said the 41-year-old, who was second in the men’s seated without hip division of the Open.
Snelson’s message: Adaptive athletes aren’t as different as the world often perceives them to be.
- “My biggest challenge is just awareness and education. There’s this misnomer that what we do is just some scaled version and that it’s easy,” said Snelson, an Idaho resident. “I have been lucky enough to engage with some elite athletes and have them try the adaptive version of a workout and they recognize that it can be as challenging as their version of the workout, sometimes even more challenging because it (might be more) upper body focused.”
- Snelson’s goal is to “get in front of more people,” so the perception of adaptive athletes changes. And being included in the Open for the first time this year is a great first step, he said.
Snelson’s story: Snelson, a former professional motocross athlete and strength and conditioning coach, became a paraplegic after suffering a biking accident at a local race.
- “There was this gnarly downhill part…and I was thrown off the bike,” said Snelson, who shattered his T-12 vertebrae in the crash. His other injuries included fracturing four ribs and his sternum, puncturing a lung, dislocating his left shoulder and right hip, tearing off the head of his left femur in the process.
- Snelson is adamant he didn’t waste much time wallowing in pity. “There were definitely some tough times, and frustrating times, but my overall mindset was always very positive,” he said, giving credit to his deep faith in God.
- “I was confident that He had a purpose with this happening, and the biggest thing for me was I knew it was important for me to have some kind of competitive channel to direct my energy, so I started searching right away for something,” said Snelson, a husband and father to a 12-year-old daughter.
- He also knew he needed to gain strength and fitness again, and when he came across some videos of adaptive CrossFit athlete Kevin Ogar, he dove into CrossFit full force, he explained.
- Today, Snelson, who owns an insurance company, spends his time training 30 hours a week, mostly working on upper body and core strength, mobility, as well as making sure he stretches his legs and keeps them moving through movements like crawling and getting in and out of his chair.
The big picture: Though the world often looks at Snelson and makes assumptions about his life, they’re probably wrong, he said.
- “Sure, I have my days when the weather is right and the dirt’s wet and I’m like, ‘Man, this would be a great day to head out into the desert on my bike,’ but generally I’m completely content….I can look back without regrets knowing I did all I could in the time I did that sport,” he said.
- Instead, he’s more interested in looking to the future and in bettering himself each day. “We tend to want to take the road that’s easier and play to our strengths, but if we take the time to identify our weaknesses and attack them, we’ll be much stronger and well-rounded,” he said.
- CrossFit helps him do just this. And if all goes well, hopefully one day, he’ll be able to achieve his ultimate goal in the sport: To compete at the CrossFit Games. “Being 41, I know my competitive time at this level is limited, but it has been my goal since I started CrossFit to compete on the floor at the Games, so I’m really hoping in the next couple years, we’ll have that opportunity,” he said.
- He added: “I know (CrossFit) is working to be inclusive to everyone, and if we can be a part of (the Games) it’s going to be beneficial for everyone.”