Group looking to create Adaptive Ski program meets for second time
VERNON — For those skiers and riders who have the fortune of being able to enjoy winter sports with having to cope with a physical limitation or other disability the process is simple, get your winter clothes on, grab your skies or snowboard and head for the slopes.
For those with special needs the task is not that simple as the team working on the development of an Adaptive Ski Program based at Mountain Creek engage in the research and development work necessary to develop a program and explored ways to overcome these challenges at their second planning meeting held at the EMS Building at Mountain Creek South on Wednesday, July 30.
The team working on this project is a diverse group made up of volunteers who have had to cope with learning to ski and ride in spite of their disabilities, and skiers and riders who did not have to face this challenge. John Swartwood was injured in an automobile accident and lost the use of his legs, and Dan Monzo, also the victim of an accident, and both found it necessary to learn to ski and snowboard with these limitations. Swartwood has gone on to help design and instruct in both the Windham and Camelback Adaptive Ski Programs and Monzo has gained recognition for his skills as a snowboarder through success in the Para Olympics and medaling in the X-Games.
Dave Rowan is a retired fireman who is used to dealing with injuries and has been a part of the Mountain Creek ski instruction staff and worked as a volunteer in the well-respected Windham Adaptive Ski Program, and fellow team member Chuck Wallace also has served as a Mountain Creek Instructor as well as an instructor of athletes with disabilities.
Buffy and John Whiting have been long time ski instructors and race coaches at the Hidden Valley Ski Resort and have experience in teaching youngsters with special needs.
The director of the Mountain Creek Ski Patrol also is a valued member of the team and keeps the group focused on making sure that the Adaptive Ski Program is safe for not only the athletes who will benefit from the program, but includes training for the lift operations staff and others who will need to provide support to the program.
Each of the members of the Adaptive Ski Program Development Team brings their own special background and experience to the process but all share a common passion and goal; the startup of a quality Adaptive Ski Program so that area youngsters with special needs can experience the joy and fun of skiing and riding at their local mountain.
The inspiration that has led the group to engage in the development process has been a local youngster named Nick Cerrato, who had a desire to ski but found that the only program that could provide the instruction he needed required a trip to Camelback Ski Area in Pennsylvania. When his mother asked if Mountain Creek had an Adaptive Ski program, it was discovered that it didn't. That's when the team took action.
The team hopes the their efforts produce an outline of what is required for a program to be started at Mountain Creek. However the startup of an Adaptive Ski Program is no easy task and the acquisition of equipment, the staffing of the program and the identification of the facility to house the program are all challenges the planning team is seeking to conquer.
The group came away from its second planning meeting confident it would be able to make a presentation to Mountain Creek decisionmakers in August with the hope of winning Mountain Creek’s support and gaining the “go ahead” necessary to begin to create the program.
Anyone with an interest in seeing an Adaptive Ski Program become a reality at Mountain Creek are invited to get involved and can do so by contacting any member of the Adaptive Ski Program Development Team or contacting Mountain Creek.
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