Double amputee disappointed by para-course

Warren Barnsley
Australian Sean Pollard's snowboard cross run at the Paralympic Winter Games had a slow start

Sean Pollard was left to rue a slow start after his snowboard cross elimination from the Winter Paralympics.

Trouble is, it was unavoidable.

The Australian lost his right arm and his left hand in a shark attack, meaning he's unable to push off at the start gate.

Pollard, 26, gave up several metres for most of his first elimination head-to-head race against Italian Jacopo Luchini in PyeongChang.

But a superb final push saw him lose by just 0.13 seconds as the riders came into contact at the finish line.

He finished ninth overall.

Despite being pleased with his performance, the Paralympic debutant was disappointed in PyeongChang course designers for not moving to even up the starts for competitors in his upper-limb disability class who have double amputations.

But he has long accepted the unevenness of the playing field.

"So my last two races in Big White and Finland, they have really steep start sections," Pollard said.

"Instead of having like a flat bit before, it's a bit easier for me to jump out and straight into the steep, whereas as pulling out and trying to cover a bit of ground, I lose a lot of time.

"To be honest, I was a little disappointed when I showed up for training because the start section wasn't as steep as I wanted.

"(Not being able to push start) puts me to the back of the pack straightaway.

"But that's the sport and I wouldn't whinge about it."

Pollard, who endured an attack by two sharks while surfing in south Western Australia in 2014, is in just his second season of competing.

With his snowboarding career still a work in progress having yet to reach the podium on the World Cup tour, he is looking into enhancements to his prosthetics to improve his starts.

"The best way for me to get out is to have my board sideways so I can put the edge in and then I kind of jump out and I just use my arm for balance, rather than pushing out," he said.

"So I'm essentially starting out sideways and jumping out straight."

Pollard took up the sport professionally after a chance meeting with the Canadian para-snowboarding coach in British Columbia when he was on holiday.

He will contest the banked slalom on Friday, a discipline in which he's ranked ninth in the world.