We Did It!!!

I’m an avid skier. I did not say expert. I said avid, meaning, I love skiing and everything about it. The mountains, the fresh air, the workout. The peaceful yet exhilarating feeling of coasting down the mountain. The time with friends, the fun conversations with strangers on the chair lift. The cozy fire and spicy Bloody Mary, apres ski.…all of it.

I did not grow up in a skiing family, so I promised myself I would have my own. This was my dream.

I married a guy who happens to ski, and we got his two kids into it too. We talked about a vacation home. Probably Maine. Enough room to host friends. On the mountain? Or in the nearest town? Oh, the possibilities…

The Best Laid Plans…

Like most of the plans we make for our grown-up years, this one dissolved quickly with the birth of my medically complex child. That’s why they are called dreams, right? Because you wake up.

Hold on…not so fast!

I had planned to get my future kids up on skis as soon as they were walking. Well, Harry is not a walker, but that’s not the point. 

I have, you see, always been fascinated with adaptive skiing . We have friends who taught it in the 90s, and I was awed by their stories and the satisfaction they got from it. When I realized my son would probably not be skiing in the traditional way, I didn’t let that get me down.

Couldn’t we still be a skiing family?

This boy loves to go fast, and we just knew that when we finally got him on the mountain, he’d get to experience the thrill that we’ve been getting for years.

And last week, we finally did it! The forecast was for a sunny March Spring day, temps around 50.

It was a perfect day.

Just About Anyone Can Ski with adaptive skiing!

Huge shout out to New England Disable Sports (NEDS) at Loon Mountain. Bill, Brian, and Blake were fantastic!

They welcomed us with so much enthusiasm. They got Harry a helmet and some cool gloves. They settled him into a machine especially designed for adaptive skiing. And off we went.

The adaptive skiing program was so much more than we expected

I thought he would be wrapped up like a papoose. Nope- he was in a legit chair ski, called an Easy Rider.

A disabled boy is strapped into an adaptive ski chair. he is wearing a green ski helmet and is bundled into warm ski pants, coat, and gloves.
Harry is strapped in to the ski chair and ready to hit the slopes!

I thought he would be towed up behind a snowmobile. Nope- he was actually on the chair lift! I was so impressed with how they lifted the machine onto the chair and clipped it in with a carabiner! (That’s Harry in the green helmet).

A boy and ski instructors riding an 8 person chair lift. The boy is strapped into an adaptive ski chair, which is strapped onto the chair lift.
The Easy Rider chair ski sits right on the bench of the chair lift.

We rode up to mid-mountain, got everything checked over, and off we went. I could not keep up, they were so fast! Bill and Brian took turns guiding the chair, and Blake was in charge of video. I picked up the tail end.

One more check to make sure he is safely strapped into the adaptive ski chair.

They finally told me to go first and stop a little ways down so that I could be ahead of them and watch him coming down the mountain. OK, message received, Mom is a slow skier. And adaptive skiing allows my kid go a lot faster than I go!

I thought it would be an hour-long lesson, with maybe 2 or 3 runs. Nope- we skied for 2 hours and never took a break. I lost count of how many runs we got in!

So, you ask, did he love adaptive skiing?

He started off a little sleepy. Like, snoring sleepy. Adjusting to a slight medication increase, so that was not surprising. But once he started to stir, eyes were still closed…maybe just trying to figure out what the heck was going on? Eyes finally opened, and he really seemed to enjoy just taking it all in.

And Mom? Mom was absolutely thrilled! I got my wish, and I was really truly skiing with my son! Dad did not ski this time, but he was waiting and watching from the bottom of the slopes, and he could tell his boy was having a great time!

Adaptive skiing instructor on the mountain, holding onto straps attached to an adaptive ski chair with a young disabled boy.
Whoosh!!!

Will he go skiing again?

Harry is not known for detailed conversations with Mom, but he did tell his PCA and his teachers that he had a good time and wants to do it again. Do you have any idea how happy that makes me???

We are already making our plans for next year…

So, if you want your disabled loved one to try adaptive skiing, YOU CAN DO IT!!! 

And by the way, I love sharing about the wonderful resources that are available to individuals with disabilities, especially in the New England area. I will continue to highlight my personal recommendations in my blog, so check back every so often.

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