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For adaptive skiers a handicap is no handicap

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Adaptive skiers can teach the rest of us
By Bob Nesoff
Member: Eastern Ski Writers Association
North American Snowsports Journalists Association

There was a time when an individual who did not have the use of a limb…or was without one--or two, could only sit and watch with a wistful look as skiers came tearing down a slope.
That day is long since gone and not missed one bit.
Today many ski resorts have programs for adaptive skiers, as they are called, opening up virtually every slop eon the mountain to them as their ski ability permits.
That’s pretty much the same as it is for the rest of us. No on ein his/her right mind will tackle a mogul field or a double black diamond trail While getting started may be a bit more difficult for adaptive skiers, the end justifies the means.
Park City, Utah, has a total program, including residential, called the “Abilities Center,” dismissing the idea that there is such a thing as a disability. Here they teach rope climbing, horseback riding, rock climbing and skiing.
While this is a comprehensive program that works throughout the year, ski area adaptive programs focus on coming down the white stuff with a high degree of expertise. It’s no longer a strange sight to see someone sitting in a gadget that looks something like a torpedo, short ski poles with a runner, much the same as an outrigger on a boat, moving downslope at a high rate of speed.
In the not to distant past skiers would stop, stare with an amazed look on their faces, and marvel as to “…how the handicapped” had the nerve to ski.
There are, on a regular basis, blind skiers working with trained advisors who enjoy the sport. These accompanists will generally hold the blind skier in a tether to direct them as to the twists and turns in a trail, when to slow down, stop or head straight on down.
Try walking around your own house blindfolded and see how well you can do.
There are skiers with one leg, one arm, or the loss of more limbs who are now regularly skiing throughout the country. Many of them have reached a level of skill where they can challenge-and beat-skiers who are fortunate enough to have all of their limbs in working condition.
One of the most active in the field of adaptive skiing is Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports devotes itself to giving these skiers the best possible experience and developing skills that others can only dream about.
The VASS has moved into new headquarters at Pico Mountain and is celebrating a year of accomplishments: The 6th Annual United States Association of Blind Athletes Winter Festival, the 3rd Annual Long Trail Century Ride, the 25th Annual Vermont 1000, and the completion of the $1.3 million Andrea Mad Lawrence (named for the famed skier) Lodge at Pico, the new headquarters.
Most of this could not have been accomplished without the support of others skirs and interested individuals. In the coming year the VASS is planning to continue a focus on the preservation of its strong foundation for providing excellent programs, develop more facilities for adaptive skiers, and expand to provide opportunitie for military veterans.
There will also be outdoor and environmental education, outreach and advocacy programs and far more.
VASS has already raised some $22,000 toward its fund raising goal of $120,000 by Oct 14, 2014. VASS is a 501©3 organization which means that any contribution is fully tax deductable.
To make a contribution to VSAA go to or call (802) 786-4991. Then get out on the slopes and try to keep up with the adaptive skiers leaving you in the mist.



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