SAN FRANCISCO, California — Fifteen-thousand three hundred thirty three. That’s approximately how many miles American Winter Paralympian, Snowboarder, and two-time medalist Evan Strong will have to travel before returning to see his family… with his latest silver medal in hand.
His trip has been epic so far, flying to PyeongChang for the Paralympics, then to Newark-Liberty International in New Jersey with a layover in San Francisco. He’ll be in New York with Team USA to display to the media his new silver medal that he won in Banked Slalom. His plan is to then fly back to San Francisco the following day if the weather holds up.
That is to say, at this moment he just found out about a Nor’Easter, which was expected the next day. “Well, that’s not good…”, he says when he realizes that he might be stranded in Manhattan.
“I just want a shower”, he says on the phone with his sister after getting off the flight from South Korea to San Francisco, the 10-hour part of his long journey, “It’s been kinda non-stop since the whole closing ceremonies.”
Evan, an eternal optimist, continues sitting there relaxing, unfazed by the forecasted storm as if the world can’t bring him down. In the same way he won his two medals (he also has a gold medal from 2014 Sochi), he cannot be easily defeated. He knows, finally, at the other end of this trip, he will get to be with the woman he calls his rock. His wife of seven years, Mariah and their “blessing” of a daughter, Indie.
“She’s the love of my life, and the woman of my dreams, and she makes me feel like the luckiest man in the world,” Evan, 31, said of Mariah, the woman he has known since they were 10 years old. He continues, “I just feel so blessed to be able have a family who I love so much.”
Evan was born in San Francisco, and moved at a young age with his parents to Maine and later Maui. It was in Hawaii, he picked up the art of skateboarding. When living in the 50th state, almost 15 years ago Evan went for a joy ride on a motorcycle that cost him. He was hit by an oncoming vehicle and his left leg below the knee would have to be amputated. Having learned balance and control in skateboarding, the transition to Para-snowboarding was made easier after the accident. This was his new passion, and it was paying off. World Cup wins and Gold medals were in his future.
Strong, who lives in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, looks forward to, “playing with my child… going hiking, seeing my friends and family, going to my local skate park and getting to share what experience I had in South Korea.”
Evan remains seated in the lounge at San Francisco Airport awaiting his flight to the New York Metropolitan Area. It’s just one more stop before he can make it back home, and just like Robert Frost’s Road Less Taken, “There are miles to go before I sleep.”