For a person who had been active in extreme-type sports all of his life, Steven Jacobo admitted it was difficult to accept his plight in life at first.
But Jacobo eventually recovered — if not totally physically — then mentally and emotionally. Now he’s an adaptive athlete competing on the world stage.
Jacobo, who lives in the Minden area, will head to Lake Placid, N.Y., in less than a month to train for the upcoming World Cup Parabobsledding season.
“I think I have a good chance this year to bring back some medals,” said Jacobo, 28.
Jacobo remembers the date, Feb. 26, 2013. The 23-year-old was working as a chef at Sierra-Tahoe Resort. “I’d never snowboarded or skied ever in my life,” said Jacobo about not having any experience on the slopes before coming to Sierra-Tahoe.
But Jacobo had been snowboarding for about three months before that fateful day in 2013. “I actually picked up the sport pretty fast,” he said.
It was late in the day after a full day of snowboarding. “Of course we all decided to take one last run,” Jacobo said.
Jacobo said he went down a path he had never gone down before that was advanced. He ended up breaking his back after going off a 15-foot jump. The situation was made worse by the fact there wasn’t that much snow late in the season, so Jacobo ended up landing on a lot of dirt and brush.
“I was basically landing on concrete,” he said. “It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life.”
He underwent spinal surgery the next day. He could actually move his legs before and after the surgery, but eventually lost the use of his legs which Jacobo admitted became discouraging for a while. “It sucked pretty bad,” he said, “I cried every day.”
But eventually Jacobo was able to get out of his funk and became a well-known adaptive athlete taking up numerous sports. He went on to have his own YouTube Channel.
Jacobo was known well enough to be asked to attend a parabobsledding school in Calgary, Canada. He did well enough to earn a spot on the U.S. Parabobsled team and to compete in the World Cup in Austria and Switzerland. He’s also been called “the future of the sport.”
In 2016, he went on to take fifth at the World Championships in Park City, Utah and was also the top American. He’s also won numerous medals in World Cup events. He’s been involved in competitive parabobsledding for four years.
He eventually took a year off to attend to such personal matters as his medical bills. He’s a single father with two boys, Brayden, 7, and Taiden, 6. He’s also working at XP Power in Minden, which makes high voltage products.
But he’s back this year. Parabobsledding was almost added to the 2022 Paralympics but not quite enough countries were competing at the time when the decision was made.
Fifteen nations are needed to compete in a sport for it to be part of the Paralympics. At the time the decision was made only 13 nations were competing.
But there are now at least 15 nations competing in the sport, so there’s a good chance it will be added in 2026. Jacobo’s obvious goal is to compete in the 2026 Paralympics.
Jacobo competes in monobobsled in which he goes down the track by himself. He said he has competed in two-man bobsled and also said the ultimate goal is for two-man bobsled to be an adaptive sport.
He’ll train in Lake Placid from Dec. 1-7 for the upcoming World Cup season, which is good since he’s never been on that track before. The season will end with the World Championships to be held March 25-31 in Lake Placid. The season will include 10 races in Park City, Canada, Germany, Norway and Switzerland.
Competitors take about 50 seconds to a minute to go down tracks that range in one-mile in length. Jacobo admitted he’s crashed twice.
“You can imagine what crashing feels like,” he said. But he also said, “For the most part, you’re pretty safe.”