Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Race Camp & Sighted Guide Search

I would like to thank ALL of my friends and family for supporting my Ski Adventure over this past year. Whether you texted words of encouragement, inquired about my next steps, or generously donated to my fundraising campaign, your support means the world to me.

2015 will forever be remembered as the year I fell back in love with skiing. Last month, through the support of many, I was able to attend a national race camp as part of Ski Spectacular, which is a week-long conference/camp organized by Disabled Sports USA. It was held at Breckenridge Ski Resort so this was also my first time skiing in Colorado! I used most of my work time off to attend and Jill and Lucy were very supportive in his decision. After camp Jill and Lucy joined me at Vail for three days in which we skied with Foresight Ski Guides!

It was a race camp so the first two days were focused on Giant Slalom and the next two were all about Slalom. On the fifth day we raced.

Photo Credit: Reed Hoffmann courtesy Disabled Sports USA 

I was paired with three to four other skiers who are blind/visually impaired (and their guides) and we were very lucky to be matched with Coach Diane, who is very involved with the Maine Adaptive Program. Members of the U.S National Disabled Ski Team were also present providing valuable advice and support.

Diane led us through drills on regular trails, then took us through the intricacies of running gates. We did slip-slide drills, skiing around brushes (aka mini gates), learned a bunch of ways to better transfer our weight and get on our downhill ski more quickly and efficiently, and a whole host of other important race techniques.

Let me say this-ski racing, especially Slalom and Giant Slalom (GS), is no joke. It definitely is not as “easy” as the superstar skiers on TV make it look. There is so much technique involved, different types of Slalom gates (into, delay, hairpin, etc) and then you mix in the need for precise communication with your sighted guide. As many people say, ski racing for a skier who is B/VI is a team sport. I was very fortunate that my guide Ron is an excellent skier and communicator and also has some race experience.

Photo Credit: Reed Hoffmann Coutesy DUSA

I took it all in and tried to apply what I learned on the mountain to running gates. This continues to be a slow transition. But every day I ski I work on the drills and techniques I learned at camp so I can apply them come race day.

So what is next? My absolute Number 1 priority remains finding a guide to train and race with. I am determined to attend two International Paralympic Committee Alpine Series (IPCAS) races this winter. One is in February at White Face Mountain in NY and the second one is in March at Loon Mountain in NH (midweek). I continue to network and reach out to some of the folks I met at Ski Spec and through my skiing at Mount Sunapee and the New England Healing Sports Association (NEHSA) adapted race program. I am prepared to pay for transportation, lodging, meals, and the needed licenses. I need someone with Slalom and GS race and ideally guiding experience. But right now I’ll take a racer who is a quick learner.

Please share this post with anyone who you may make an ideal guide or may know someone who would. In the meantime, I will continue networking and improving my ski race technique.

Your continued support is greatly appreciated. See you on the slopes!!!

Photo Credit: Reed Hoffmann courtesy Disabled Sports USA

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