Danzig “Ziggy” Norberg of the Gig Harbor Canoe Kayak Racing Team won gold in the VL2 men’s 200-meter final at the 2017 Para Pan American Sprint Championships in Ibarra, Ecuador. Norberg, with a time of 1 minute, 2 seconds, beat out Brazilian paddler Alex Pessoa by one second. Canadian Trinity Tratch took third.
Norberg was one of only a few U.S paddlers, disabled or able-bodied, to reach the podium in international competition this year.
“It is an honor to represent my country,” Norberg said. “And absolutely thrilling to win a gold medal.”
Norberg, who was born with spina bifida, moved to Washington from Minnesota a few years ago to train with the multiple time national championship team in Gig Harbor under coaches Alan Anderson and Aaron Huston. He is a student at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, where he is studying pre-law with an emphasis on sports and disability.
The Pan Am Championships were held Oct. 12 to 15 and drew athletes from more than a dozen countries. After shipping difficulties with the rental boats coming from Portugal for the competition, organizers had to scramble to find va’as. Athletes waited anxiously all week for the boats to arrive that had been loaned by an outrigger club in Peru. They finally made it to the course just hours before the competition on Sunday.
“Doing a lot of resistance training in the last month was extremely helpful,” Norberg said. “The boat I had to race in was twice as heavy as our normal ones.”
After the announcement last month that the va’a will be included in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, competition is heating up.
Norberg is training hard with the goal of representing the U.S. in 2020. As one of the leading para-paddlers in the country, his chances look good. Those interested in supporting Ziggy with his training and competition expenses can visit his GoFundme page at gofundme.com/ziggys-going-to-worlds.