New Mexico-born Colorado native Brittani Coury won silver in banked slalom at the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympics. As a nurse, she volunteered to help at the COVID-19 ward of her hospital in Salt Lake City and declined a U.S. national team nomination last fall to prioritize her mental health ahead of the Games. A right ankle fracture in 2003 didn't heal correctly and led to nine surgeries. In June 2011, Coury decided have the leg amputated below the knee to pursue a more active life. Those who cared for her motivated the now 35-year-old to become an RN.
As part of our preparation for the 2022 Games, NBC Olympics sent questionnaires to multiple athletes to learn more about their lives on and off the snow or ice. Here’s what we found out about Coury:
Brittani Coury, Snowboarding
Events: Banked Slalom and Snowboard Cross (SB-LL2)
Birthplace: Farmington, N.M.
Hometown: Durango, Colo.
Residence: Salt Lake City
Past Games: 2018
|Banked Slalom SB-LL2||6th|
|Snowboard Cross SB-LL2||🥈|
Family & Upbringing
Tell us about your family.
"I have a sister who is very close with me, she's like my twin/mom/sister – we're not twins. I'm estranged from my parents, but I was adopted, not legally, by another family when I was 28 and I have a close family relationship with them."
Did you attend college?
"I received my bachelor of science in nursing from Chamberlain University in September 2020. I received my associate's degree in nursing from Pueblo Community College in May 2016. I did my prerequisite nursing degree courses at Ames Community College. I didn't participate in collegiate athletics, instead I studied day and night to graduate nursing school."
Do you have another job?
"I work as a registered nurse in order to support my athletic endeavors. I was on the front lines working in the COVID tents last summer and worked on the Acute Internal Medicine floor working with COVID recovered patients over the last year (2020/2021). Balancing work and training is hard, especially working 12-hour shifts as a nurse. I use working on the floor as part of my cardio regimen considering I walk at a fast pace several miles of each shift."
Top spots in your hometown?
"My favorite place to eat out in my hometown is at my sister's house, she is a killer cook. Her work [sic] red chili is my favorite. I enjoy spending time with my family especially watching my nieces and nephew rodeo, going skiing and snowboarding with my nieces and nephew at Wolf Creek ski area, or standup paddleboarding with them at Farmington Lake."
How has your hometown shaped who you are today?
"Honestly, I wanted to [sic] the mountains as soon as I could, so I left my hometown after I turned 18 to snowboard as much as possible. I became a snowboard instructor at 18 and have lived all over the country and snowboarded all over the world."
Where else have you lived?
"I was born and raised in New Mexico. I've lived all over Colorado in Fairplay, Greeley, Silverthorne, Colorado Springs, but spent the majority of my time in Durango, Colorado. I lived in Mammoth, California, Healy, Alaska, and currently reside in Salt Lake City, Utah,"
Lifestyle & Training
Typical training day?
"For early morning training at Snowbird, I wake up at 5 a.m. to be at the mountain dressed and ready to get on the chairlift by 7 a.m. We are able to do focused gait training on the mountain before the general public gets on snow at 9 a.m. After this training will usually ride until noon. On non-early morning days I wake up around 6 a.m. and train at Snowbird from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. I train with the able-bodied bordercross team, Team Utah. They pushed me to ride faster, harder, longer, and the camaraderie that we have is unlike anything I've ever experienced."
How much time to you train and sleep?
"I train anywhere from six to eight hours a day on the snow. When I get home I have another hour to two hours waxing snowboard and prepping for the next day. I like to sleep a lot so I usually get at least eight hours of sleep. Working as a nurse, getting a full eight hours is pretty hard, I usually get about six hours of sleep on nights or days that I work."
What's your favorite workout?
"My favorite workout is snowboarding :-) any type of training on snow is enjoyable."
What's the most grueling workout you've ever done?
"It would have to be the lactic acid test/VO2 max testing we do. It's brutal."
Surprising things regarding training for Paralympics?
"People are usually surprised at how little athletes are paid. Most of us live below the poverty line and sacrifice everything we have to be able to participate in the sport we love."
Any out-of-the-ordinary or experimental training?
"I guess working as a nurse 12-hour shift on the floor is a little out of the ordinary to be considered cross-training."
Experience during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic?
"During the COVID-19 lockdown I was working as a nurse in the COVID tents and on the floor. From June 1 to July 5 I worked 28 days in a row. I was able to get my steps in, but the gyms were closed so I had to modify my training doing home workouts. I did a lot of mountain biking over the summer as well."
Have you ever been seriously injured?
"I fractured my back, fractured my pelvis, and tore my labrum and in my hip in January 2021 snowboarding. I was back on snow in a TSLO spinal brace a week and a half later. It probably wasn't the smartest decision I've made, but being a winter sport I had to utilize the time on snow."
Any nutrition plan? (e.g., calories, meals)
"I usually try and do an anti-inflammation diet for me which is gluten, sugar and dairy-free. An example would be a veggie omelet loaded with Brussels sprouts, though [sic] peppers, mushrooms, onions, and topped with salsa."
"I love fresh pineapple, probably one of my favorite things to eat."
Reflection & Paralympics
Earliest memory of playing sport?
"I was about 14 when I started snowboarding. Snowboarding was an outlet for me for my troubled childhood, it was the place I could go to be free from self-esteem and inadequacy issues. A place where I could be numb and not have to think about life outside of the slopes.
"I loved snowboarding from the first time I strapped aboard on my feet, this propelled me to become an instructor; have a pretty traumatic injury to my ankle from a snowboarding injury which led to my decision to amputate my foot below the knee after being injured for years and after nine ankle surgeries."
Earliest memory of watching Olympics or Paralympics?
"I never imagined myself being an Olympian/Paralympian. I remember watching the Olympics when I was young and particularly gymnastics I was always [sic] at the athleticism and tricks they could do."
Memories from 2008 Olympics?
"I was recovering from an ankle surgery during the 2008 Olympics. I remember watching beach volleyball and how Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh won gold. Those women rocked it and showed the world what they were made of."
Specific breakthrough moment?
"My breakthrough moment was when I did my first competition, I had only been on snow for 14 days as an amputee, and finished second to last. This is the most celebrated second to last finish in sporting history I think. At this moment I realized I dedicated myself there was a possibility that I could go to the Paralympics."
What would you change about your sport?
"If I could change one thing about Paralympic snowboarding it would be the number of female competitors we have. I love all aspects of her support and I wouldn't change a thing, I love that we do the same course as the men, the commodity [sic] we have as a group, and the love we have [sic] one another."
Who is your coach?
"Lane Clegg is my coach. I've been working with Lane for four years and we have a great relationship. He understands me on an intellectual level, and knows what to say, and inspire me to push harder, and has been instrumental in my success as a Paralympic snowboarder. I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for Lane and his immense knowledge of the sport"
Who do you socialize with most within your sport?
"I socialize with everyone, but Brenna Huckaby is my No. 1 person. We're inseparable when we're together."
Most interesting teammate?
"My most interesting teammate is Brenna, probably because I know her the best. It's amazing to listen to her passions, how she's inspiring and changing the world around her, and how she wants to help others and the disabled/adaptive community."
Close friends with any competitors?
"Paralympic snowboarding is probably unlike other sports, all of the countries get along, we all try to support each other, cheer each other on, and are all part of 'one team, snowboarders.'"
Have you ever worked with a sports psychologist?
"Yes, it helps with the mental stress."
Big obstacle that you've overcome?
"Feeling inadequate, unwanted, unloved and useless by my mother."
Biggest fear when competing?
"I don't have much fear – that's how I became an amputee :-)"
Olympic/Paralympic role model?
Summer Olympic buddy?
"I lived at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center for several summers, so I've been able to make friends with a lot of athletes both on the Olympic and Paralympic side. We had DIIIIIPPPPP COOOONE TUESDAYYYYYYYS at Bj's on a weekly basis lol."
Greatest influence within/outside sport?
"Brenna Huckaby helped me a lot going into the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. She is a boss in our sport and I look up to her."
Advice you'd give a young athlete?
"Stick with it, get quality training and reach out if you have any questions or need help."
Best part of living in the Paralympic Village?
"Seeing and hearing all the celebrations when athletes won medals."
Where do you keep your medal?
"I keep my medal in a hidden drawer under my bed – my secret is out now, I guess."
Play any other sports?
"Downhill and cross-country mountain biking. There are a lot of similarities in downhill biking that translate into the bordercross, the features are similar, the terrain is similar, and line choice is crucial."
Which Summer Olympic/Paralympic event would you like to try?
"I would love to try skeleton."
Ever been told you wouldn't succeed?
"My mother was/is not supportive. I say she has been a huge role model for me because I get to prove her wrong and pave my own path to success."
Any pre-competition rituals?
"I say a prayer before I compete for my competitors and myself."
"I'm not superstitious. I do wear a necklace that I've had on since I graduated nursing school in 2016 that my 'othermother' gave me when i graduated."
How did you discover adaptive sport?
"When I decided to amputate I told myself I was going to do everything I did before. So I guess the discovery for me being able to be back active."
Tell us about your impairment.
"I'm a right below-the-knee amputee. I acquired my injury from a snowboarding accident and the decision to amputate with my own instead of an ankle fusion after nine ankle surgeries and three years on crutches."
Passions & Personality
Do you have a nickname?
"Hurricane Ritta – I got this nickname because sometimes the snowboard course looks like a hurricane went through after I run through. I'm all or nothing and will be on a podium or the biggest crash of the day usually. The whole snowboard community refers to me as Ritta."
How do you unwind after a competition?
"I usually eat dinner, stretch and go to bed early."
Do you have any hidden talents?
"I'm pretty good at starting IVs, first aid, I crochet, and can do a mean pig call lol."
Do you collect anything?
"Snowboards lol. My collection got started when I got back into snowboarding in 2016 and is continually growing. I have too many lol."
Do you support any charities or nonprofits?
"Camp Experience – I got involved through the training center and now I'm a camp sister for life. I support loving each other and helping others in need."
What would you do if you weren't an athlete?
"Working as a travel nurse."
Do you have any fears or pet peeves?
"I'm not afraid of much, but I hate being late or rushed biggest pet peeve for sure."
What is on your bucket list?
"Podium at the 2022 Games. Build out my 1958 Suburban Apache. Travel nurse."
Personal motto/inspirational quote?
"Chase your dream and never let anyone else set limitations on what you can do. – Brittani Coury"
Woman that inspires you?
"My sister. She is the most selfless person I know and has always taken care of me."
"I love all outdoor activities. I enjoy being in nature and I love experiencing what the world has to offer."
"I love all music."
Music of choice while training?
"'I Lived' by OneRepublic; 'Shake It Off' by Taylor Swift; 'Can't Stop the Feeling!' by Justin Timberlake; 'Carpe Diem' by Social Club Misfits; and 'Even Then' by Micah Tyler."
Do you sing or play an instrument?
"No, I wish I had this talent."
"I'm a casual clothes kinda gal. I'm usually in scrubs when I'm not in my snowboarding or athletic gear."
Five must-have items in your gym bag?
"Snacks, my gym foot, a towel, water and headphones."
If you could hear from one celeb, who would it be?
"Mr. T – just because he's such a fan of the Paralympics and he rocks it at the Best of Ceremony in D.C. after the Games."
What is favorite meme/GIF that best describes you?
NBC Olympics Research contributed