Marc Francis has been a valued member of the Absolute Snow workforce for the past 2 years. In 1998, Marc was in traffic accident that left him paralysed from the chest down, however this has never stopped him from doing some incredible things. We sat down with the most inspirational member of Absolute Snow to talk about snowboarding, working at Absolute Snow and his future plans.
Marc, thanks for taking the time to chat to us. Briefly tell us about yourself.
My name is Marc Francis and I had a road traffic accident in 1998 when I was 17 years old, 2 week before my 18th birthday. I was left paralysed from the chest down, with no feeling or movement in my legs. Unlike common misconception, my accident has never stopped me from trying new opportunities and I have tried some amazing activities such as gliding, abseiling and skydiving along with that I played wheelchair tennis at the highest level and reached a world ranking of 160.
Nowadays, snowboarding is my passion. I am the only paralysed disabled person in the world that snowboards and have been prodaptive snowboarding for 5 years. My partner was my catalyst into snowboarding as she has been skiing and snowboarding since she was 4 years old and we wanted our children to be able to experience the sport. Both our daughters have now been snowboarding for 5 years and it’s an amazing feeling to be able to enjoy it together as a family.
How long have you worked at Absolute Snow? And what makes it such a great place to work?
I have been working here for 2 years now. Working at AS is great because it is such a relaxed environment and everyone that works here has a genuine passion for outdoor pursuits. The knowledge that is captured within the company is really inspiring and we share ideas, knowledge and tips between us on a constant basis. A major bonus is that we get the opportunity to see all the new products and technology before the customers see it – like getting to see a film before it hits the cinema!
As a disabled member of staff, how has Absolute Snow been as an equal opportunities workplace?
Absolute Snow have been amazing as an equal opportunities workplace, from the day I had my interview until the present day, everyone that works here has accepted my disability straight away. The management have been so accommodating and helpful by providing a ramp to access work, electric doors and lots of other helpful elements without any issues. If I have a problem doing a activity within work someone is always available to give me a hand without a second thought. It’s a really family feel within the company so I felt at home from Day 1.
You’ve invented a sit snowboard - tell us about it?
I have designed my own sit snowboard called a prodaptive snowboard with help from the wheelchair manufacturer RGK. This is a frame that has been made out a very lightweight metal and has been lined with carbon kevlar. It has a seat that is attached to 2 handles by a pivot mechanism and the handles are attached to the binding screw points that you get on a regular snowboard.
The way it works is very simple; the handles allow me to torque the snowboard the way a able bodied person would with their feet and I use the same actions of shifting my body forward in the turn. This then engages the toe edge to grip the snow, and the seating frame moves on a pivot which allows me to move back and forth allowing me to put weight on my toe edge or heal edge if needed.
What are your plans in the future?
I plan to continue to promote disability snowsports and to make prodaptive snowboarding more available for anyone to try. Currently, I am in the process of learning to sit ski and once I have learnt this, I will be the only paralysed person to have 2 snowsports disciplines.
Why would recommend working in the outdoor sports industry?
I would absolutely recommend working in the outdoor sports industry to anyone. It’s a fantastic industry where you get to do some amazing things and meet some passionate, genuine people. The decision to work in the outdoor sports industry has been the best thing that I have done and is an integral part of my life now.