Last winter, I observed ski guides teaching and leading blind and visually impaired skiers down Pico Mountain in a ski event sponsored by the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) and Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports (VASS). For this year’s Sixth Annual Winter Ski Festival, thanks to an essay contest and scholarship through VASS and the Vermont Divisions for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI), I am going to be a full-time weekend participant! Though I’ve skied off and on for many years, I’ve never actually had a lesson, so perhaps I’ll learn to use those edges to carve turns instead of my usual speed, fall and stop method. This admittedly doesn’t work very well now that my vision has changed since I first tried skiing at the Cochran’s Ski Area back in the 70’s.
I always had a secret desire to try skiing down a race course just for fun but was afraid I wouldn’t be able to see the next set of gates in order to pick my path. Well, this weekend I will get my chance if I want. I imagine I will tailgate a bright orange vested guide, whom I will have no problem following, providing he or she takes into consideration my skill level.
I’m looking forward to the Saturday night banquet where we all get a chance to share our tall tales of the day. And Sunday, we’ll head to the beautiful setting of the Chittenden Mountain Top Inn for an afternoon of quiet cross country skiing, which is more in my comfort zone. With the help of a guided skiing partner, it will be nice not to have to worry about reading the trail signs or stumble upon any unexpected surprises, like those pesky overhanging tree branch which could poke an eye out.
But the best part will be the sharing of information and experiences. Currently, my daughter does not know anyone that has a mother with low vision and all that entails, so I’m hoping that seeing other blind parents and children will be comforting for her again this year.
In last year’s article about this event, I complained about the lackluster snow year. It looks like my wish will come true this time around as there’s a fresh foot of snow expected in today’s forecast. It may not be enough to get snowed in, but will raise the spirits on the slopes, in the woods, and through the evening’s events. Ai Squared will be donating all of our newest products for the Mac (which I will be posting about shortly) for the silent auction on Saturday evening, helping to raise money so that more skiers can participate next year. USABA and VASS have a particular commitment for getting blind veterans involved in sports for both recreation and rehabilitation. In my mind, fresh tracks through fresh snow will be just what the doctor ordered.