Originally Posted by whtmt
Hi Cassina: Great job for your first time giving it a try. A couple of thoughts to remember. First, is your friend a couch potato or is she an active and or athletic person. The question of how vision impared is she and for how long will direct you as to what to expect. Does she ski with a buddy or just go with instructors a couple of time a season? Knowing your student's background is very important especially when skiing with a disabled person.
You become the senses that the person has lost. So, the person's safety is foremost in all that you do together. So when you start out you need to know her fears, as well as her strengths. When you were in the lodge did you watch her move around by herself?, use a guide dog, or use the buddy system? That will tell you alot about what might happen on the hill.
Before you put on skis, did you review the type of communication you would use with her? If she has skied for a few seasons then she may have some types of verbal communication she's comfortable with (ie-commands). For instance, the agreed commands that will be used on the hill will be very important to set up before you go out there with lots of noise. How do you tell her to turn right or left or straight, or stop, and or STOPPPP!!!!., in an emergency?
Skiing with a vision impaired person means you are wearing three hats. The first is her guide and buddy; next is her instructor; and finally you're her personal ski patrol friend. So, first build confidence in the lodge then proceed to the slope. Be sure you're up to date on what she already knows and has comfort with before moving on to the next level of activity. Don't move off green terrain until she and you are totally safe and control turning in each direction, speed control, and stop on command. Until those points are reached it's too soon for more advanced terrain and skiing activities. You must set a good foundation or you're an accident waiting to happen.
After all that, now you're ready to move up the hill, still moving safely and controlled in all that you do with her. Basic guiding might sound something like this: At the start, "And forward, hold, hold, hold, and right turn, hold, hold, hold, and left turn, hold, hold, hold, and stop." No inflection, no nervous exciteable voice tones, just confident mono-tone only. This type of communication creates confidence and support. Few words are very important her, as they tend not to confuse the skier, who has to follow your every word and sort them out among snow guns, traffic, ice noise, etc. One last word of caution, before ever using any additional equipment with any skier adaptive or not. Understanding its proper use is a very critical safety issue as some other instructors here have mentioned. Finally, if adaptive ski teaching is of interest to you, be sure to get into a training program where you can be taught properly. You will find lots to do and a whole new world will open up to you.
Two suggestions: First go to the PSIA web site and search under Adaptive. PSIA has many great articles, books, and training manuals available to both coaches and the non-member public. It's a challenge, but alot of fun.
PS: I'm a former Eastern Adaptive Examiner, currently a Level III Alpine and Level III Adaptive coach. Best of luck.
whtmt & Mackenzie 911
Thanks for the reply. The lady I was skiing with was a client of the local
disabled skiing association and I understand what you are saying about
the importance of getting a good understanding of each other prior to
going out of the lodge. While I did go through a training course in assisting disabled skiers and it did appear quite comprehensive what I have found is that there needs to be more told to me either by the client
or the asssociation as to the full disablement of the client as I picked up
during my time with the client they had an interlectual disability and the clients father said when we got back she had paralysis down one side
which would have possibly explained why she could make parrallal turns with the instruction I gave her in one direction but not very well in the other.
Still a lot to learn and if I had known in advance I would be beginning my
helper experience with the visually impaired on the chairlift, when the helper visually impaired training only involved the beginner slope I may have been put off. Theglitches I have had so far have not been stressful, which I put down to having a very good memory of the struggles
I had when learning in combination with my current black run highish speed skiing ability. As for going for Certification as an instructor I have been told that my own skiing ability is not up to that level and there may be some truth to that from my experience at ski racing which I am trying
out for the first time this year with my focuss on trying to ski the course
by carving all the way and not just part of the way.
Finally for what it is worth once the blind skier had become comfortable with my ability to communicate with her she said at the end of the day she felt more comfortable with the way I communicated with her than
the instructor during her lesson. I had actually thought that it would be my ability to communicate and not my skiing that would be my weakness.
The only aids I have had experience with during training are the outrigger
ski sticks and I could see even with those there is a greater danger of injury than normal ski poles so when I am given a skier with an outrigger
to help I will have a good awareness of the safety issues associated.