Paralympic Dreams for CrossFit Loving Skier after Life-Altering Accident

February 1, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Shelby Estocado
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Shelby Estocado, 26, has always been athletic with big aspirations and that didn’t change after an accident left her paralyzed from the chest down. Now she’s chasing down dreams to compete on the U.S. Paralympic Alpine Skiing Team. 

In 2020, Estocado was snowboarding when she went off a jump and landed on her back. She broke her sternum and T-6 vertebrae and faced two major surgeries to repair her body. She’s had to relearn how to do everyday tasks, along with finding a love for sports once more. 

  • “So February 3rd of this year will be my third-year-alive day, that’s what we call it,” said Estocado. 
  • Many questions were running through Estocado’s head as she came to terms with her new able-bodied life, and she thanked her family, especially her mom for “being an advocate for me, she knew what to say to the doctors and ask the right questions.” 
  • “People see me on a daily basis but they don’t know my daily routines, like morning and at night, so I had to get used to that.” 

Estocado grew up in Las Vegas and has always had a love for sports. Softball was a big sport for her and she went on to play at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. Estocado played on the team for four years and then tried out for the USA National Baseball Women’s Team and made it in 2016. 

She started doing CrossFit when she was 15 “and I always loved it.” When she moved to Reno after her accident Estocado found a gym named Reno Powerhouse Fitness, which has been a huge proponent of finding her adaptive movements during a workout. 

  • “The coaches are always wanting to learn so much more and I appreciate that because I’m still learning and I didn’t know what to do.”
  • “The other thing about my gym is that they’re super competitive and if I tell them I want to go and compete they’ll work with me and get me to where I want to go.” 
  • “I appreciate all the learning they want to do with me because we’re still learning and we figured out new ways to do things. And doing CrossFit my brain doesn’t forget I still have legs and getting that movement and that strength up still helps my body too.”

Estocado recently competed in the WheelWOD Games 2022 and placed third overall in her division. She loves to compete and is looking forward to more competitions to come. 

Aside from CrossFit, which she uses as part of her “dry lands” training, she recently relocated to Park City, Utah for the winter season to train at the National Ability Center for para-alpine skiing. 

  • “My goal is to make that 2026 Paralympic team and hopefully soon I’ll make the U.S. team to get there,” said Estocado. 

Estocado says the High Fives Foundation, a non-profit organization set out to help adaptive athletes, has been an integral part to her development and recovery. The organization has been a driving force in helping get Estocado back out on the slopes and back to doing what she loves. 

  • “I’m happy to be here and where I’m at. I didn’t think I’d be here, like five years ago, so everything’s good,” she added. 

She trains five days a week and chose to leave her job at a medical technology company to focus on training full time. Estocado will focus on the slalom and giant slalom while she’s at the training facility.

When asked what she’s learned thus far in this experience, Estado says she always goes back to her family. 

  • “Those are the first people I think of because it is tough for everyone. It’s tough for me to understand, it’s tough for my family because they’re also dealing with it and learning a new lifestyle and taking care of me,” she added. 
  • “We’re the strongest when we’re together and I wouldn’t be here without them.”

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