Paralyzed snowboarder Kiana Clay pushes her way into upcoming Paralympics


    When Kiana Clay was left with one arm after an accident taking place 12 years ago, she had no idea how she was going to do little things, let alone accomplish bigger things in life, according to Clay.

     Clay, now 24, was 12 years old when a freak dirt bike accident resulted in her right arm being paralyzed. At 12, Clay was worried about the smaller things, such as putting on makeup or doing her hair with only one usable arm.

     Now 24, Clay is focused on a different set of questions. In 2019, Clay joined her Copper Mountain Resort-based Adaptive Action Sports teammates at a para-snowboarding World Cup event in the Pyrenees Mountains in La Molina, Spain. This event was her second World Cup event.

     Clay is now focused on becoming the first U.S. women resident with an upper-limb disability to compete in snowboarding at the Paralympics. 

     The 24-year-old first picked up snowboarding in 2015 in Copper Mountain. According to, she picked up snowboarding because she had previously gone snowboarding with her family frequently, before her accident. 

     “I wouldn’t be on the road I am without motocross, getting back on the bike after my accident led me to Daniel Gale, who is director of the Adaptive Action Sports. Daniel is helping me on this road to the Paralympics, to make history and pave the way for other future upper-limb impaired females.” Clay says, and adds, “my heart and soul are always in racing, just being competitive and going fast. That’s me, who I am and what I love.”

     Student Madalyn Rutch is “surprised” by Clay’s ability to persevere. “I have no idea how I would continue doing cheer after being paralyzed, it would come with a lot of physical challenges but I would also get in my head a lot.” 

     Found on Clay’s blog, uploaded on November 20th, 2019, Clay expressed how she “never imagined the sport [she] loves would take away the use of [her] arm.” After the accident, the girl explains how she had to learn how to read and write with her left hand, along with other day-to-day activities.

     As of January 2021, Clay has added several top finishes to her résumé as she begins working towards the 2022 Paralympics in Beijing. Recently, according to reporter Shauna Farnell, she signed with the Burton Team, which is one of the best-known in snowboarding.

     Head of the Burton snowboarding company, Donna Carpenter says “what struck me with Kiana right away is that she saw how her work might benefit others, she’s got that single-minded determination, the eye of the tiger that you can recognize in a good athlete.”