As a teenager, Ty Wyberg is faced with fantastic opportunities as he competes for the Chippewa Valley Nordic Ski Team. Sometimes, he is practicing more than five nights a week. On this night, Ty explains what he’s thinking about while on the wooded trails. “If I’m going really hard like I was tonight, I’m thinking about just speeding up my stroke and just tell myself, ‘Just pull, pull, pull.’ Or sometimes when I’m on a nice easy ski, it’s just kinda thinking about, what am I going to have for dinner tonight,” he says.
Most nights there is a lot of time to think about dinner because Ty has been training for the U.S. National Championships. Ty only took up Nordic skiing in the past couple of years and is already competing at the national level. And if that was surprising to his parents, the next part of the story was a shocker. “The coach for Team U.S.A. pulled me off to the side and she asked me, ‘Ty, do you have a passport?’ And I looked at her a little puzzled and she’s like, ‘Well, you’re going to Germany.’ It took a second for it to register and I was like, ‘Are you serious?’”
Team U.S.A. selected Ty to be part of their national development team and a trip to the World Cup for Nordic Skiing. News spread quickly. From that moment, Ty could feel the support of family and his community at every turn. For his first international competition, Ty kept his aspiration simple. His goal was to go there, have as much fun as possible and soak up the environment. Success would be measured by skiing his hardest.
Skiing for Team U.S.A. is quite an accomplishment for this Wisconsin teen born with Spina Bifida. Ty explains,“When I was born, my spinal cord was outside of my back. So, it affects all of the nerves below. So, I don’t have control over my legs. I don’t have feeling in my feet.”
Ty’s father, Al Wyberg, remembers the day they got the news. “When we were sitting in the doctor’s office and they said that, and then when we were traveling down to Mayo Clinic. It was actually on 9/11… and they’re all telling you all these worst-case scenarios.”
Today his mom Michele sees a teenager with spirit. “It would be very easy to make 1,000,001 excuses as far as, ‘I can’t do this because I have Spina Bifida. I can’t do this because of my disability.’ And instead, he says, ‘Well, maybe I just have to find a different way to do it.'”
At the world championships, Ty’s winning attitude paid off. Not in a first-place finish, or even a spot on the medal stand, for Ty it was about so much more. Ty recalls, “I didn’t place super high, but my times improved a lot and that’s kind of all that mattered for me, and I was super happy placing where I did. It was the best I had felt finishing last. It showed me how much harder I need to work.”