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Sask. wakeboarder battles injury to reach Pan American Games

Fort Qu’Appelle’s Ashley Leugner has battled through a career-threatening injury and will now represent Canada at the Pan American Games as part of the wakeboard and water ski team.

An injury in 2016 took Leugner away from wakeboarding competitively but in March, she learned there was potentially an opportunity for her to go to the Pan American Games.

“I just put my nose to the grindstone and did what I needed to do and it all worked out for me,” she said during an interview with CTV Morning Live Saskatchewan.

Before learning of the opportunity, Leugner said since her injury, the extent of her time on the water had been more recreational.

“In the last eight years, I’ve probably been on the water a handful of times not even practicing just having fun for a handful of times.”

Leugner is one of Canada’s most decorated wakeboarders and is a seven time national champion, a world championship silver medalist and a bronze world cup finisher.

She then clinched her spot on Canada’s team for the Pan American Games by winning the Canadian Wakeboard Boat Championships in B.C. in August.

“I feel like I’ve done a lot in my wakeboarding career and this is almost like the exclamation point on my career,” Leugner said of her comeback.

Leugner said that 2023 will mark only the second time women’s wakeboarding has been a part of the Pan American Games and said that being able to experience that is something truly special for her.

With Saskatchewan’s short season, Leugner said a lot of her preparation took place in the United States and Mexico.

“The other girls have been on the water competitively for the past eight years and I have not, so they have that edge a little bit, but I also have a ton of experience on the competition stage so that will come in handy for sure,” Leugner said.

The 2023 Pan American Games will be in Santiago, Chile from Oct. 20 to Nov. 5.

Leugner said she has always loved the opportunity her career has given her to travel, adding that she has been able to meet people from all over the world.

“I am very much looking forward to the opening ceremonies and walking out with the rest of Team Canada, that is going to be amazing, only a few people get that opportunity.” Top Stories

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