My wife and I traveled from Georgia - more than 2,400 miles - for a ski trip of a lifetime. The expectations were high. The experience was something we had dreamed about for more than 17 years! We would be skiing with Tahoe-based Disabled Sports U.S.A. Far West. An adaptive program making what would seem to be the impossible...possible.
I met my wife while I was a Level 3 Adaptive Snow Ski Instructor. In my six-year career, I chased the snow and worked with varying disabilities. I was drawn to this discipline because there’s both art and science to good teaching. This is especially true with adaptive skiing. Each student has varying abilities and, as an instructor, it was my responsibility to teach to their ability. The challenge was riveting!
I met the most courageous people as I traveled nationwide as a trainer at adaptive ski programs and camps. At a week-long camp in Hidden Valley Ski Resort, located in Pennsylvania, a student caught my eye. She not only was brave, but beautiful. She was not my student. She had been matched with another adaptive ski instructor. I thought what a lucky guy he was. I did manage, however, to get her phone number with what I thought was a clever pick up line, “Nice wheels, babe?” She smiled from her wheelchair and with a little hesitation, agreed I could contact her. Six months after that day, I asked her to marry me.
Now, more than 17 years later, we would snow ski together. You may question why we waited so long to enjoy snow skiing side by side. Simply put, we fell in love; we chased our careers, bought a home, and had children. Also, living in the south was not the ideal place for snow skiing.
I had always dreamed of seeing her on the slopes and encouraging her like I had other clients. I was also thrilled about being her ski partner, and not her instructor. It would give us a chance to ski side-by-side.
The conditions were perfect at Alpine Valley. Sunshine and packed snow, as far as the eye could see. The crunch-crunch sound underfoot was an unmistakable sound I had missed. After a quick ride on the chair lift, both Leslie and I skied our way down our first slope, side-by-side. The sleek rasp of our skis on the snow brought us both a taste of adrenaline.
It came as no surprise when Leslie, full of bravado, asked to ski to sunset. I was more than eager to support and encourage her in this moment of glory. She was unstoppable and that was a quality I loved about her.
While she was skiing, she was free from her wheelchair. She was experiencing nature and a sense of independence. Adaptive snow skiing had allowed her to push her physical limits. I could see it in her eyes. She enjoyed the freedom!
That night, after a full day of skiing, I listened to Leslie fall into a deep sleep from exhaustion. I smiled. My wife had skied Alpine Valley like a champ! I felt like the luckiest man on earth to have a wife that was tenacious and fearless. After 17 years, the mountains still held some magical power over us.
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The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This individual has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution.
The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This individual has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution. BMD/BMDA/0218/0614