Who's Skiing - How Does He Do That?
Edited by John Ferry
boards attached to his boots and a snow covered hillthat's
all that are needed. My son John has been skiing for
about four years. We have enjoyed skiing together the
past two years. How did we get started?
six years ago, I would not have thought John would be
able to ski. However, while skiing out west (lucky me)
I saw some blind skiers on the slopes. I stopped to
inquire and as a result I was invited to observe a lesson
the following day. That next morning one of the instructors
was advising the volunteer guides for the blind and
visually impaired skiers on what to expect. It went
something like this. "Watch this one, he likes to ski
too fast." "This young man wants to ski the bumps."
As she went on describing each of these young skiers,
I was getting more and more enthused. I began asking
questions about the organization sponsoring this activity
and learned that there are a fair number of ski areas
that have adaptive skiing for many different types of
disabilities, including quadriplegics.
I returned home, I contacted a group that was located
at Jack Frost Ski area in Pennsylvania. A few weeks
later we received notice that a mobility instructor
from the NJ Commission for the Blind was arranging a
ski trip for their young constituents. We jumped at
to ski for John and the others that day was not so different
than for other first time skiers. They had to get the
feel of having these boards attached to their feet and
moving slowly on fairly level snow. They learned how
to put their skis in a V, called a snowplow. The instructor
would be in front of them skiing backward and holding
onto their hands. After the skier got comfortable, the
instructor would then ski at their side with both holding
onto a pole. The second year of skiing, John was able
to ski without the need to hold on.
instructors have used two different methods to guide
John on the slopes. John is visually impaired, but has
some vision in one eye and can see color and forms,
so the instructor can ski in front of John and he follows.
The instructor can also ski behind John and call out
"left" "right" or 'hold" (meaning continue in the same
direction). I understand there are helmets with radios
in them for communication. We're not that sophisticated
people on the slopes are very encouraging. Some people
are very surprised to see John skiing. We're not surprised
because we know John can do most anything he wants.
Because of John's ability now to ski independently,
he and I can enjoy a winter weekend together on the
slopes. It's a blast to be able to share the experience
with him. The only problem is that John has such a busy
schedule with all his activities that it's difficult
to find more time to hit the slopes.
owe a great deal of thanks to folks like O & M instructors
Joe Cutter and MaryAnn Delaney for getting our kids
together and off to a good start on skis. MaryAnn organized
the New Jersey group for several years at Jack Frost
and Camelback in Pennsylvania. There are other programs
in Windham, NY and Greek Peak in upstate NY. Also, there
are a number of areas in the midwest working with adaptive
by the way, John asked if he could learn to water ski
this summer. I was racking my brain about how could
we accomplish it. Well, as should be expected, I met
a blind water skier who was more than happy to help
us get started. You only need to identify an interest
and keep asking "how to" questions. There are many supportive
people out there who have the answers and the willingness
to help you get started.
you on the slopes!