Saturday, February 27, 2010

First Time for Everything, Even Snow Skiing!

I had the amazing opportunity to do something I've always wanted to learn how to do since I've become paralyzed. Before I got hurt, I used to love to snow ski! I would always challenge myself to do bigger and better hills, and eventually worked myself to flying down black diamond hills!

But this week, I had a chance to mark something off of my to-do list, and it definitely won't be my last time! I learned how to mono-ski!!

Big Bear Mountain in Southern California has a fantastic adaptive program that I've seen on the internet for quite awhile but have never had the guts to actually go up and take advantage of the program. The United States Adaptive Recreation Center (USARC) was founded in 1983 to ensure that access to skiing is available to people with many types of disabilities. The first full-time, on-site adaptive ski school was established in 1989 at Big Bear Mountain Ski Resort in Southern California. It relies on amazing volunteers to help assist each participant, and I was fortunate to have two of the best (in my opinion), Tim and Sara!

There was so much unknown about a sport I've never done since becoming hurt almost 10 years ago, but Sara and Tim were so encouraging, supportive, and confident that I'd master this sport in no time.

They helped me transfer from my wheelchair into a mono-ski, and then Tim taught me how to use the riggers (adapted poles) to help me turn. The most important part of skiing on a mono-ski is balancing, and it's all in your shoulders, upper body, and trunk support. The riggers are only there to help you turn. I didn't quite get the hang of it the first several times down the mountain because I kept reflecting back to how it "used to be."

Sara would ski in front of me (backwards at that!), and Tim would ski behind me, holding on to me for support when I needed it (which was a lot at first).
But of course, I fell quite a bit. Ha! I laughed every time, except for the one time where I felt totally out of control and ran over someone and then someone ran over me. I guess that happens, though. Being so low to the ground, I felt like I was going so, so fast, but in reality, I wasn't going that fast at all. It was definitely a very different sensation than before when I was walking. But, I felt safe the entire time.
Towards the end of the day, I definitely felt more confident in my skills and was significantly determined to master that mountain! I learned how to load onto the ski lift by myself, and in the picture below, we are laughing because I flung myself backwards onto the ski lift so much that I bounced off the back and almost bounced back out of the lift! Ha!
Hooray! I finally learned how to do it! Granted, I could only stay up by myself for about 10-15 seconds before I'd fall again. But, I was happy! I had such a fun, fun time up there, and I certainly want to make it back up there so I can get even better. Sara and Tim were excellent teachers, and I highly recommend you ask for them to help you!
There really isn't anything in life that you can't do when you're paralyzed. Yes, it may be a little different, but it shouldn't stop your life from being enjoyable, satisfying, and fun. I had a blast learning how to ski and had a smile on my face the entire time.
Two thumbs up to the USARC program at Big Bear and to the wonderful volunteers that help make days like this possible for people with disabilities. You make a huge difference in providing confidence and positive self-esteem, so THANK YOU!

My last request was to get down in the snow (even though I'd been in it face first several times when falling!) so that I could just enjoy the snow. Anyone for a snowball fight? Get out there and enjoy life, and make sure you know that God really doesn't give us anything we can't handle!


Blogger Julie Tiemann said...

Love this post, and love the photos. I'm very impressed - traditional skiing (at least getting off the lift!) is scary enough for me!

Just want to say too that the way you live life so fully is way inspiring. Keep it up, girl!

February 27, 2010 at 5:38 PM  
Blogger Katie Patterson said...

You are so inspirational. I am always caught up in my complaining because of this...or because of all of my silliness seems small compared to your story. You don't even complain about not being able to walk or ski the way you used to. You find a way and make it happen. You Go Girl!!!

March 2, 2010 at 5:45 AM  
Blogger Gini (Hallquist) Young said...

Ah dear! I have just recently found a hilarious pic of the 2 of us that night it snowed at Samford about midnite and we got out in it! Remember sledding on the sweater box tops?! We are so red in the face and COVERED in snow and we surely look like we are up to no good...which I'm sure was the case! LOL! I have it out on my dresser...I love you! You look adorable sitting cross legged in the snow btw!


March 3, 2010 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Alyson Roth said...

Well, minus the concussion I just found out I incurred, I had a blast and will definitely be doing it again! As my boss said, if you don't come back with some sort of injury, then you weren't pushing hard enough! Ha!

Gini, I TOTALLY remember that night, and it is one of my favorite memories as we laughed and laughed. I remember sledding down on those tops, and trying to make it through the small gate of the chain-linked fence. Remember that? If you made it through, everyone cheered! Oooh, the sweet memories. Snow angels on the track field and snow down our clothes. Love it!

March 3, 2010 at 12:32 PM  

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