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Though an Olympic long shot, snowboarder remains optimistic


MOUNTAIN CREEK, N.J. (BP)–A year ago, Luke Wynen had the Winter Olympics firmly in view. Wynen had established himself as one of the top snowboarders in the United States, and the Olympics in Italy next month seemed like an achievable goal.

But Wynen discovered how quickly things can change in a year.

In March he tore the ACL in his knee, an excruciatingly painful injury that requires surgery and takes months of rehabilitation. So instead of refining and perfecting his skills, Wynen has spent the past few months simply trying to return to form.

With the Olympic trials this coming weekend in Mountain Creek, N.J., Wynen knows he’s a long shot to qualify. He’ll have to place in the top three in each of two different events to make it — so the task before him is difficult. But Wynen still thinks it’s possible.

“I think God’s got something special for me,” Wynen said. “I thought it was the Olympics. I think it still is.”

Wynen’s love for snowboarding began as a child, when he would accompany his father, an avid skier, on trips. Wynen noticed more and more snowboards on the slopes, so he soon tried it himself.

By the time he was in sixth grade, he had decided to pursue the sport as far as he could.

“I didn’t know Jesus at that time, but that desire and that drive helped me to take a path that God used mightily,” Wynen said. “Here I am older, with the testimony that the world doesn’t have it. Only God does.”

Wynen knows from experience. After graduating from high school, he got a big sponsorship for snowboarding at the professional level.

That gave Wynen lots of money, and he got to travel all over the world to compete as a snowboarder. He thought he had reached his dreams.

“I ended up getting everything that the world has to offer — all the gold that I wanted,” Wynen said. “I wanted money. I wanted to have a Porsche. I wanted to have a girlfriend that all my buddies thought was hot. I wanted to be a movie star, a rock star, be famous — that feeling of importance.”

But despite his sudden success, Wynen soon realized something was missing. He eventually became a Christian, and now knows what fulfillment in life means.

“Since I’ve come to know the Lord and walk with him closer and closer, every area in my life has been better, more excellent — my marriage, relationships with family and friends and snowboarding,” he said.

That’s why an ACL tear was initially a struggle for Wynen — because he was at the top of his game, and the injury kept him from what he does for a living. But he trusted that God knew what was happening.

“God totally provided for me financially for my knee surgery,” Wynen said. “We didn’t have to spend one dollar on my knee. The hospital just decided to tear up my bill, and hospitals don’t typically do that.”

In addition to the financial blessing, Wynen also discovered some spiritual blessings as a result of the injury. Rather than traveling all over the country to compete, he was able to stay home with his wife and be more involved in his church.

So rather than moping about his injury, Wynen has tried to use it as a tool to talk to others about the Lord. And he hopes the Olympics will be the next step on his journey.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to share my faith and share all the testimonies of what God’s done to get me to here,” he said. “I have to think that God is going to give me an even bigger platform to be able to share those testimonies.”
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Tim Ellsworth writes a weekly column for BPSports, on the Web at www.bpsports.net.

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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