LETHBRIDGE — Colton Ribling of Fort Macleod is working toward a pair of lofty goals, to help Sledge Alberta win a fifth national championship and someday, play for Canada’s national team.
Ribling is in his second season with the provincial sledge hockey team, which has won four straight national titles.
“Thankfully I was able to join a dynasty,” he said. “We are 20-and-0.”
Colton plays defence in a sport he took up after a snowboarding mishap in December of 2015 left him paralyzed from the waist down.
“It definitely affected my mental health,” he said.
“The first year-and-a-half after my injury, it was the first year in my life that I didn’t have sports, since I was a toddler, so I was kind of down in the dumps.”
Ribling was at a Calgary Flames hockey game when he was stopped in the concourse and someone told him he might be good at sledge hockey.
“My parents said, ‘you should just try it,’ so I tried it out and fell in love with it,” he said.
For Ribling, being part of the provincial team is a big commitment.
He drives three-times-a-week from the family acreage south of Fort Macleod to the rink at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, to attend practices and games.
“So I’ll skate from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and again in Okotoks from 9 to 10:30 p.m., and then it’s the drive home,” he said.
Colton has a vehicle with hand controls and he is thankful that he is able to drive but says it’s expensive and he has been looking for a place to live in Calgary.
“Most of the guys have moved to Calgary, to be together and train together,” he said.
Ribling is hoping to find a sponsor to help cover the cost of travel and equipment.
He’s also focused on working out, skating as much as he can, and growing his skills, hoping it will result in an invitation to try out for the national Paralympic ice hockey team next spring. “It’s definitely my goal to make the national team for sure, but winning rings with the provincial team is just as good,” he said.
Nationals will be held in Leduc next May.