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Monday, February 27, 2012

Skiing at Pico Mountain with Vermont Adaptive



On Saturday I was skiing with two good friends at Pico Mountain. Vermont got real snow, powder in fact, so my timing was perfect. I had the absolute best time Saturday. Good friends and real snow--what more could one ask for. I am somewhat embarrassed by the short video clip. I have never seen myself ski before. Yikes, I am a duffer for sure. No one will mistake me for a paraolympian or top notch mono skier! Regardless, I have fun and thoroughly enjoy the work out skiing provides. I also got to see an emergency evacuation of a ski lift. Serious stuff I hope to never experience.

On the drive home from Vermont I continued to think about the social significance of adaptive skiing. It is such an ego boost to ski. There is without question a cool factor associated with being an adaptive skier. Being cool and being paralyzed are usually polar opposites. I am still not sure what to make of this phenomenon. Is the cool factor associated with adaptive skiing a modified version of being a super cripple? It does not feel like this at all. Some I have talked to think the positive reception is a measure of respect--I am skiing and enjoying life regardless of my disability. Perhaps others sense i have overcome a physical crisis and social obstacles. Regardless, i wonder about those people with a disability that cannot ski. Is my body in spite of being mostly paralyzed a privileged body? This gets back to the variation on the supper cripple theme. My gut tells me this is not the case. I also wonder about all those that would love to ski but simply cannot afford to get to the mountain. Yes, adaptive programs do the best they can to make skiing affordable but there is only so much they can do. What about those with a disability that cannot afford transportation or simply spend the money on gas required to get to the mountain. In thinking about skiing I wish others with a disability could get the same rush I do. I do not want to be alone on the slopes. I want all who desire to enjoy a day on the slopes to be so empowered. Life is such a gift. It should be enjoyed as I was able to this weekend.

11 comments:

Elizabeth said...

You are kind. I wish you could take my daughter skiing! I imagine she'd love the rush of wind in her face.

william Peace said...

Elizabeth, I see many kids with cognitive and physical disabilities ski. In fact I would maintain getting kids and adults out skiing is an Vermont Adaptive forte. I love to see these kids and adults ski. They smile from ear to ear and clearly get a lot of it.

Christo said...

I completely agree. I'm a monoskier and live in the UK, and although there is a lot of help with lessons etcetera, both here in the UK and in Europe, it is still very expensive. If you have to sit down to ski, the ski schools charge private lesson rates at hundreds of euros (dollars) a day. None of them seem to address the fact that ninety percent of disabled people live in poverty, there is very little in the way of funding (unless you are a young racer). As a siting skier like yourself I know what it’s like to escape your wheelchair for a few hours and experience such freedom and exhilaration. It’s a pity more disabled people cannot get more help (financial and practical) to ski.

william Peace said...

Christo, Finances are indeed the primary problem in terms of skiing. Adaptive programs do the best they can but they cannot address the larger issues of economic deprivation and lack of accessible transportation. I wanted to ski out West this season--something I have dreamed of for years. It was just too expensive. You also make a good point r.e. funding. Yes, top skiers can get funding. Your average person cannot. None of this addresses the cost of sit ski rigs. A person walking can buy used gear and ski for a few hundred dollars. A sit ski rig costs thousands of dollars. Few people can make that kind of investment.

Matt Feeney said...

While somebody walking can "buy gear and ski for a few hundred dollars", skiing for someone with a disability may be more accessible and affordable than you think. Most adaptive ski programs offer a discount for people with disabilities. A lift ticket at Winter Park, for example, is $99 to the general public, but $35 for people with disabilities. A season pass is only $110 for a person with a disability as well.

Adaptive Adventures also offers a camp in Steamboat...The Steamboat All Mountain Camp. This event, held in January, offers skiers with disabilities 5 nights ski in/out lodging, 4 days of skiing (including a snow cat trip), equipment, instruction and meals for $600. www.adaptiveadventures.org
You can't get a deal like that anywhere in (able-bodied) world!

Christo said...

Matt that sounds like a fantastic deal. when are you going to setup in europe?

william Peace said...

Matt, I agree most mountains and certainly all adaptive programs do the best they can. Now I would love to ski out West. But I do not own my own rig--hard to justify much less come up with at least $3,000. So I would need to rent a rig, lift ticket, get a motel/hotel, likely a rent-a-car, plane tickets etc. That adds up fast. Even if you own your own rig it needs to be shipped out west and back. As Christo pointed out most people with a disability have little or no money to spend on such a luxury. I do not mean to dispute your point--you are right in all you wrote. I think the biggest obstacle is simply getting people to the mountain.

Matt Feeney said...

OK...seems like you are finding reasons for people with disabilities NOT to ski. You are missing all the opportunities that are out there for people with disabilities that want to ski. Have you really looked into it?
There are many adaptive ski programs that offer scholarships for people who cannot afford a ski lesson. You have to apply and qualify for those programs, but the opportunity is there. If you want to buy your own adaptive equipment but cannot afford it, there are grants you can apply for, including the CAF (Challenged Athletes Foundation) Grants to purchase a mono-ski, bi-ski or handcycle. As for "shipping" your own rig...most airlines will consider your mono-ski (or most adaptive equipment) a medical product and will not charge you extra on flights.
Anyway, there are ways for all people to ski...no matter what your disability or financial situation...you just have to make it happen!

Claire said...

Matt, Ugh, you missed the point I was trying to make. I would love to see more people ski and bike and take full advantage of adaptive sports. I was trying to point out significant financial obstacles prevent many from skiing. Finnance is the sole reason I have not skied out West. An adaptive program cannot make hotles/motel, rent-a-car, meals etc. affordable. Hard to think about skiing when one lives on the overty line. I consider myself extremey lucky in terms of finance hence I am thinking of the vast majority who struggle daily. Yes foundations do provide grants for adaptive gear and adaptive programs have a sliding scale for clients. So you are correct in all you wrote. We seem to talking past one another. Frustrating as we both want to get out on the slpes and know the great fun we have.

Carla said...

Curious to know what is available for quadriplegics. I would love to be in the mountains again, but there are so many unknowns for me. Logistics, like how to get from a vehicle in a wheelchair to the lodge & lifts. I remember trudging through the snow packed parking lots just to get there when I was able-bodied. Are there people available to help or do you have to bring your own, etc.? I learned to ski at Winter Park & have skied many of the other areas in Colorado with the exception of Crested Butte, Steamboat, and Aspen. These conversations have inspired me to investigate further. I don't have a lot of upper body strength, but what an incentive to work on that! Hmmm...food for thought! Thanks!

william Peace said...

Carla, Most quads I have seen ski use a biski made by Mountain Man or Enabling Technology. It is a great piece of equipment for a high level SCI. All the logistics of parking, getting to the lodge, etc. have easy well established solutions. Some adaptive programs allow a first time skier ski for free. Any person with the desire can ski! All adaptive programs are wildly creative in getting people out onto the slopes. If you have trouble finding an adaptive program let me know. I am sure you can ski and have great fun.