In Kelly’s Words – Ski Spectacular at Breckenridge
Last week Greg (our Program Director), Zeke and I kicked our ski season off at Breckenridge in Colorado for Disabled Sports USA’s “Ski Spectacular”. Ski Spec—as it’s called—is a huge adaptive ski festival, bringing together vendors, program professionals, race campers, and new and experienced adaptive skiers from across the country. It’s a place for instructors to learn best practices, adaptive skiers to get lessons and try equipment, and vendors to work with their customers to nail their fit.
Greg and I were there for a few reasons. Because I didn’t ski last season (I was pregnant with Nell), I was rusty. I also needed to work with Joe and Matt from Aspen Seating to improve the fit of the custom seat I had added to my monoski 2 seasons ago. These guys are the seating pros. Similarly, Greg is in the market for a new monoski. When you want to try all the newest monoskis, Ski Spec is the place. He tried a DynAccess, which is literally built by a rocket scientist, a Tessier, the builder of which had travelled from France to be there, and had his current Praschberger monoski fixed by the Austrian makers. It is amazing to see the technology that goes into these skis!
What makes Ski Spec so unique is that everyone there has a shared passion for making skiing with a disability easier, more fun, and just better. This is a community that isn’t in it for the money, glory, or any other superficial reason, we all just love sliding on snow and making it as inclusive, accessible, and exciting as possible for everyone.
But my favorite part of being at Ski Spec is that we were able to ski and hang with 4 KBF grant recipients:
- Liam from New York – was fitting his brand new monoski with the manufacturers and participating in the race camp
- McKenna from North Carolina – a female rugby player who was skiing for the first time
- Krista from Coloardo – a young Coloradan also getting her new monoski fit
- Quinn from Colorado – participating in the cross country skiing camp
For me, this is the best part of Ski Spec. Each of the last several years either Zeke or I have been out there to meet new grant recipients, welcome them to the KBF family, and get to know them better. The last few years we’ve helped about 200 people per year all over the country buy adaptive sports equipment and we don’t get to meet most of them in person. We try our best to stay in touch, talk, or meet up if we are in the same area, but more often than not I don’t get to know our grant recipients nearly as well as I’d like to. It is so nice to go to an event like Ski Spec and spend real time with these individuals who have such amazing stories. I love that the KBF can be part of their story in some small way and getting to know them makes that even better.
My favorite visual of Ski Spec is seeing all of the empty chairs sitting on the side of the hill while everyone is out skiing. It is rare to see another monoskiers on the mountain and at Ski Spec they are everywhere. There also are tons of people with other disabilities that are skiing including blind skiers, amputees, and those with cognitive disabilities. To see all of these skiers using their adaptations to get out and enjoy the mountain is so much fun for me. Skiing is a really equalizing sport. It’s gravity-based, doesn’t include wheels (which is really refreshing!), and lets you use force to turn. Zeke and I go together, go up the same lift, down the same trails, and go the same speed (sort of…!). Skiing is about the only sport that we can truly do together and equally. Being at Ski Spec reminds me why I love skiing so much. And after these amazing days at Ski Spec, I’m just excited to get home and go skiing with my kids!
To see it close-up, check out our Ski Spec recap!
Dylan and Nell Update:
While Zeke and I enjoyed our trip to Colorado we had decided to leave Dylan in Vermont. We brought Nell with us (I’m still breastfeeding her) and had Dylan stay with a mix of my sister, my parents, Zeke’s sister, and Zeke’s parents. Our trip was 10 days which is the longest I had ever been away from Dylan. It was too long! About part way through we got word that she was a little sad and missing us one day and by the end I was missing her a lot too. As much as I love my kids, time away can be really rejuvenating, but I realize now that sometimes it can be too much. Dylan generally did fine and loved having “sleep overs” with her extended family, but I think Zeke and I will try to make sure we have shorter trips in the future. Nell did amazingly well. She didn’t love sleeping at altitude but otherwise was such a trooper and adapted wonderfully to our crazy schedule.