Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Skiing For The Visually Impaired

Many people who are blind or have low vision can enjoy the sport of skiing. Whether you are a first time skier or you used to ski and would like to try again the sport can be enjoyed successfully. Depending on where you live there are adaptive skiing programs offered where the low vision or blind skier is offered free instruction or a reduced rate. Some places even offer a reduced rate for friends or family members that would like to be a guide. Most places have you fill out an Adaptive Application Waiver so make sure you call before showing up.

Skiing allows the blind or visually impaired person the ability to move freely and independently, in a controlled setting, in a physical and fast paced sport. This is an exhilarating experience and provides the skier with confidence and a physical independence that may not have been felt before.

There may be some concerns for those who have never taken a risk to try something like this but do not let that stop you. Guides are available and the instructors are amazing and understanding. The guide will provide the skier with verbal descriptions and instructions while traveling behind the skier or preceding them. A portable amplification system is often used as well. Visible identifying vests are also worn to prevent other skiers from skiing between them.

Our very own Tracy Andrews has been part of an adaptive skiing experience and said it was truly amazing and her sense of accomplishment carried over into other areas of her life. Her husband was trained to be her guide and they bonded closer together through their skiing adventure. She said that the instructors made her feel a part of with no pity which allowed her to feel like she was just as entitled to ski as a sighted person. "Each time I went out on the slopes my skills improved and that's a phenomenal feeling. Flying down the hill and maneuvering down the slopes was so awesome and to share that with my friends and husband was great"

This is a great way to stay active in the winter and to be a part of something that you can enjoy with others. So get out there this winter and go for it. You will not regret it and the experience will hopefully inspire you to continue to challenge yourself in other areas of your life. It sure did for Tracy. She has been away from the sport for awhile but would like to start up again and involve her kids. Stay tuned!

Some places that offer programs for the visually impaired are Ski Sundown in New Hartford, CT. 860-379-7669 and Sugarloaf Mountain Resort in Carrabasset Valley Maine. Sugarload is offering a week long program in February. For more information just click Here