(Photo: Erich Saide)
Tara Moore executes moves at a Bikram yoga class in Langford, B.C., with the grace and flexibility of an advanced-yoga practitioner.
Challenging poses that demand balance, strength and endurance – like the killer “standing head to knee” pose – look almost easy for the 31-year-old leading seaman in the Canadian Navy, as if her body was made for such contortions.
But she can point out scars that tell a different story. While hardly noticeable to the unknowing eye, they’re visible: above her right ankle and on her left thigh, where titanium rods and plates pieced back together broken bones in both legs; where pins fused her shattered pelvis; around her left arm at the elbow, where a metal hinge and delicate microsurgery reattached her severed arm; and just above her left eye, where a large flap of her scalp was reattached.
Only two years ago, Tara was so badly injured after a parachuting accident that doctors told her she might never walk again. Her partner, Jason Tucker, who stayed by her side through her accident and recovery, says those doctors didn’t know Tara Moore.
Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Tara was the older of two girls born to a navy dad and stay-at-home mom. (Her mother died of cancer when Tara was in her mid-20s.) After graduating from high school, Tara tried a nursing program, but left after six months to go surfing in Mexico and to seek out a new vocation. She found it in the Canadian Navy, which she joined in 2000 at age 22, following in the footsteps of her father, Cal, a former naval communicator, and her sister, Kenzie, an army medic stationed in the navy.
During her time in the navy, Tara found two new loves: Jason and skydiving. She met Jason, a master seaman from St. John’s, N.L., in May 2004, when they were temporarily assigned to the same ship. Afterwards, they saw each other whenever possible and phoned or emailed when apart. Their relationship grew slowly and steadily, from companionable fun into a deep and abiding commitment.
For Tara, however, skydiving was love at first jump. The first time she pushed herself out of an airplane, at 3,500 feet, she felt no fear – just joy and exhilaration. She especially liked the feel of the air on her body – cradling her – and the astonishing 360-degree views.
Over three years, whenever she had time off from the navy, Tara made 300 jumps. She decided she wanted to become a SkyHawk, one of about 16 people on the Canadian Forces’ elite skydiving-demonstration team. Earning a spot was difficult – particularly for a woman – due to the physical-fitness requirements. Attending a SkyHawks tryout at the Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton, in Ontario, in 2006, Tara, though supremely fit, had to withdraw: She didn’t have the upper-body strength to do the required chin-ups and push-ups.