|The world of professional snowmobile racing lost its greatest champion, and the world of sport lost an athlete of incredible accomplishment and superior character.
Darcy Ewing was riding his bicycle near his home in Minnesota when he was struck by a car on September 21. He was killed instantly.
Darcy began ice racing before the term extreme sports had become popular, but riding a 300 pound sled powered by upwards of 200 horsepower, reaching speeds over 100 mph over an ice track can hardly be considered anything but extreme. Broken bones, snapped ligaments, concussions, as well as multiple bruises, sprains and lacerations are all part of the pain and pleasure of ice racing. And to compete in such a sport requires a dedication to fitness, and the ability to give absolutely everything you have, holding nothing back.
A number of years ago, Darcy considered retiring. He wasnt sure he was willing to give everything he had. In fact, Darcy and his wife, Heidi, spent considerable time thinking and praying about his possible retirement.
Then he attended a PAO conference. He says, God placed within my heart a conviction that I would win the World Championship that year. The dream was so vivid, so clear, so real, so strong, I even knew exactly what I would do when I won.
But the dream seemed to evaporate before becoming a reality. Just two weeks before the World Championship, Darcy was injured in a race. Another driver lost control of his sled, it became airborne and slammed into Ewings back.
When I came to, I couldnt breathe. Not only did I have broken vertebrae from the sled slamming into my back, but when I was hurled to the ground I dislocated my jaw and nearly severed my tongue. I lay on my back, choking on my tongue.
The paramedics were more concerned with my back and wouldnt take my helmet off - and all the while, I thought I was going to suffocate while they tried to take care of my back.
I made up my mind I was going to race in the World Championship. God had given me a dream, and it was up to me to do the very best I could.
If it took the last ounce of my strength, I would give it.
He entered the championship, which lasts four days. Each day the competitors are required to qualify to advance to the next day. Each day I was totally spent.
The fourth and final day of the championship was almost disaster. As the race began, one of the other competitors lost control of his sled and it slammed into Ewings leg, tearing his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).
The race was restarted. I was dead last. And then I began to move, from last, all the way to first. I took the checkered flag and won the World Championship.
The torn ACL took Ewing out of racing for an extended convalescence, which provided him with an opportunity to spend time with his son, Sean, who was one year old at the time.
That time was priceless. I got to know Sean, the delightful child he was and was meant to be, before the devastating disease of autism robbed us of the fullness of his personality.
In recent years, partly because of his commitment to care for Sean, Darcy raced part-time. Yet he won five consecutive World Championships and an unprecedented 52 consecutive feature races.
Arguably the greatest ice racer of his generation, Darcy was as committed to his family and his faith and his sport. Frank Tanana, former Major League pitcher who came to know Darcy at PAO conferences, says, He was an athlete, and a very competitive guy. But more than that he loved the Lord, and he was grateful for all God had given him. He loved his wife and his family. Now, hes crossed the ultimate finish line. And we grieve for ourselves, not for him, because hes in the joy of heaven.
As physically fit as he was, Darcy worked every bit as much on being spiritually fit. He was a man who could articulate his faith, and thought deeply about those things that have ultimate meaning.
I have learned to stay fit and ready in the arena of the Spirit. Its such a constant battle we fight - to live in the power of the Spirit, to live in the wonder of the love of God.
We so often fail. Fortunately it doesnt depend upon how good I am, or how well I live, or how many victories I might have under my belt - it depends upon Jesus, who died for me. He laid it all out, holding nothing back.
Snowmobile racing has lost a champion. A family has lost a husband and father. Sport has lost a man of character. We have lost a friend.
But all who knew Darcy Ewing are richer. And on the night when he was killed, even as all those who knew him grieved, they also knew he was prepared for this very moment, and was ready to enter into eternity, and they are convinced that God said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant.
Darcy Ewing - a champion in every way.
If you would like to know more about the God that Darcy served click here.
To read Darcy's LIFEstory click here.
To read an interview at Snowmobile News.com click here.