Area skiers work to provide adaptive ski program


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  • PHOTOS COURTESY JOHN WHITING Nick Cerrato getting adaptive ski instruction from members of the Camelback Ski Area staff.




  • Adaptive Ski Program planners John Whiting, John Swartwood, Buffy Whiting, David Rowan & Dan Monzo.



Not all Vernon residents are lucky enough to not have a physical disability, which prevents him from enjoying the ski trails at Mountain Creek.

Nick Cerrato, who has become known as a “foot artist”, a title derived from the fact that he overcame his limitations by learning to paint with his feet, has made a couple of trips to the Camelback Ski Area in Pennsylvania to take advantage of their fine Adaptive Ski Program.

After discussing it with friends, initial research led to the discovery that Mountain Creek did not have an adaptive ski program but was interested in providing the program, but needed assistance to put the program in place.

The program began with the help of past Mountain Creek General Manager Charles Blier, who had since developed the Camelback Adaptive Ski Program as that resort’s general manager. Since a disabling automobile accident, John Swartwood has learned to ski using adaptive techniques, has advanced into teaching other disabled people and has experience with the renowned Windham Adaptive Ski Program and the one offered at Camelback and presently is an Adaptive Ski Examiner for the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA).

It was also discovered that Mountain Creek regular Dave Rowan had experience in teaching Adaptive Skiing as did the Resort’s ski instructor Chuck Wallace. When the word got out that an effort was being made to develop a program locally, Vernon’s own Dan Monzo, who had medaled in the X-Games as an adaptive snowboader and competed in the Para Winter Olympics in Soshi, Russia, volunteered to join the group.

The first planning meeting was held at the Mountain Creek Executive Offices on Tuesday, June 17, with an objective of developing an Adaptive Ski Program, to provide special-needs skiing enthusiasts with a program for the 2014-15 ski season. Members of the group were assigned research and planning tasks to gather the information needed to convince the Mountain Creek Management that a program could be put in place locally.

The group came away from the meeting enthusiastic about benefits local special needs athletes could gain from an Adaptive Ski Program, but aware that the task would require a lot of work. Interested and supportive people and organizations have already expressed a willingness to donate money to address the need for financing, with the Hidden Valley Closed Golf Classic and the owner of the Vernon Inn pledging a contribution.

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