December 11, 2015
My ski guide, Jeff Ulrich and I just got back from the Hartford Ski Spectacular in Breckenridge where we led a blind skiing clinic as continuing education for adaptive instructors. Of course, many participants were from Colorado, but it was a fun part of the clinic to hear about the far off places that people came from to participate, like Bogus Basin in Idaho (that’s the real name!) to Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.
Jeff and I spent the morning demonstrating our unique brand of blind skiing, which involves Jeff guiding me from the front, and shouting three part commands "Turn-A-Right, Turn-A-Left”! First, this helps me to orient to the sound of his voice and secondly, the three part command helps create a round turn shape, based on when to initiate the turn, then drive my edges and then when to finish the turn. This technique has really helped my skiing as opposed to an abrupt series of right and left which creates a zig-zag or simply skidding down the mountain.
Check out the “Blind Skiers Edge” technique in this video: http://www.touchthetop.com/skiing
In the afternoon, the instructors had a chance to test their skills on me as the real live blind test subject. Yikes! Just kidding, they were great and really picked up on the rhythm of the commands which makes it much more fluid as a blind skier.
Terra Brooke from Adaptive Sports Association from Durango, Colorao, guiding me down
Terra, who is guiding me in the photos, made a comment that it felt like dancing and singing as she was learning how to guide. What a beautiful sentiment.
With this training these instructors can bring back what they’ve learned to their own hometown ski areas and give even more people the opportunity to get outside and enjoy one of my favorite winter sports.
Thank you to the Disabled Sports USA for bringing us all together for a fun day on the slopes!
Photo Credits: Jeff Ulrich