Adaptive skiing, Durango style

Last month, I went skiing for the first time in at least fifteen years. A friend recommended  a group that he participates with that takes challenged people out on the slopes. They have a scholarship program and I am excited to say that I was a recipient of one of these scholarships. The group is Adaptive Sports Association  There’s a great video on the home page of all the sports they are involved in.

Everybody at ASA Durango was friendly and helpful in making me feel comfortable about trying a new sport, adaptive style. They have several different types of standing and sitting skiing devices for different types of ability. It was four days of fun on the slopes and having host share her home and town with me made it extra special.

pink helmet

Being towed on my snow slider. Gotta love the pink helmet!

The first day, the volunteers spent time fitting me first with a ski slider which is like a walker with skis. Your arms are held to the poles/walker by arm cuffs. After a few pushes down the hill, I decided this style was too exhausting for me. I wasn’t standing up straight enough so it was a constant battle to keep my feet going as fast as my arm poles.

We reevaluated back at the ASA building where I was fitted with snowboarding boots and a ski bike.The ski bike was a little intimidating at first. I wondered how  this heavy piece of equipment  and I were going to get off a ski lift. The lift has always been my biggest fear about skiing, even when my legs where fully functioning. It turned out not to be a problem. My instructors brought me to the bunny hill and told the operator to slow the lift by 50% at the bottom and top. We moved forward, sat down on the chair, an instructor placed the bike across our laps, pulled the safety bar down and away we went. Getting off took a bit of coordination. As we approached the top, the instructor to the left of me placed the bike seat between my legs while the one on the right helped me stand up. Then it’s just a matter of falling forward onto the bike and sliding down the ramp. After a few runs, the fearful squeaks coming out of my mouth turned into “Wee!”

Over the next few days my skills progressed so that I could make turns and control my speed with security of being tethered to an instructor if I needed help. By the fourth day, exhaustion had set in and I learned what everyone has to learn at some point, how to fall. I did that quite a bit on the last day but we laughed about all the way from the top of the mountain. The views were so beautiful, the sun was out and I was SKIING!

ski bike

First day on a ski bike.

Going from Hawaii to Colorado in the middle of winter a concern for me but the weather was beautiful and I didn’t feel cold.  Hearing the crunch of snow and the comfort of fleece and cashmere and a cup of tea by the fire at the end of the day was perfect. As I expected, the exhilaration of being in the mountains and snow was enough to pull me through the learning curve of tackling a new sport.

It was an exhausting week of skiing, eating good food and socializing with wonderful people. When I got back to Hawaii, I could not get my head out of Colorado. I love the water sports I do on Oahu but my heart is in the mountains and I can’t wait to get back there.

 Nadine, Alanna, Sheri

Scholarship recipients Nadine, Alanna and Sheri at the ASA Durango dinner.



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