Nine members of Paralyzed Veterans of America’s California chapter in January 2014 tore up the slopes at Big Bear Ski Resort in California with the help of the U.S. Adaptive Recreation Center.
The California chapter worked with the Adaptive Recreation Center’s adaptive ski school at Bear Mountain Resort to provide instructions and equipment to the nine members who ranged from first-time to novice in adaptive skiing, said Alex Calvo, sports director for the California chapter. “Last May, when I became sports director, we had a few members who always had an interest in skiing but thought it was impossible for them,” he said.
While Calvo says he never had an interest in skiing until after attending the winter sports clinic in Aspen, CO, he wanted to use that experience to prove to fellow members that skiing was in fact possible following their injury. “Once I went on the slopes, I couldn’t believe I had never done it before,” he said. “I’ve been pushing Paralyzed Veterans of America ever since to take us up there [Big Bear].”
Instructors were paired with the nine adaptive skiiers in a two-to-one or three-to-one ratio, with some skiiers using a tether and others skiing independently, Calvo said.
While the adaptive skiing program was hard to implement for the California chapter mostly because of its proximity roughly three hours from a ski resort, the hope is to sponsor at least one skiing trip per year, Calvo said. This year, the chapter may sponsor an additional adaptive ski trip to Big Bear, likely in March, he added.
“Adaptive skiing shows a lot of independence for people who want to do something that they’ve never done after their injury,” Calvo said. “It’s a good experience.”
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America’s Sports and Recreation Programs
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.