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Why I teach Adaptive snowsports.

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
I switched to teaching adaptive 8 years ago after teaching able bodies for 7 years. I still teach the occasional a/b lesson with return clients but 90% of my lessons are adaptive.

Skiing is an elitist sport that requires lots of money, at least that's how it is where I teach in the beautiful Colorado Rockies. The a/b people I teach aren't appreciative of their surroundings and the opportunity to come breathe the fresh air and participate in the greatest sport on earth. Instead they're worried about image and preserving ego. These people are a waste of my time and that's why I rarely teach them any more.

Disabled people are thrilled just to get the opportunity to be at the top of a mountain, to feel the cold air on their faces, to enjoy something that many thought they would never experience again. They say "thank you" because they received something that will sustain them for the rest of the year.

I feel sorry for ski pros that have to spend their time trying to teach ungrateful snobs who can't get off their cell phones long enough to learn something about skiing. Personally, I like spending my days with real people rather than the fake, plastic people I used to teach.
post #2 of 36
I taught Adaptive for 15 years. It also teaches the Instructor a thing or 2 about life.
post #3 of 36
There was a show on adaptive skiing last night on one of the PBS channels. I wish I could remember the name of it, but it was great! The show profiled 7 or 8 skiers with different backgrounds & disabilities. Very motivating, great people. A couple of segments talked about the inovation & advances in equipment. Pretty amazing stuff.
Rock on Chaos!

JF
post #4 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaos View Post
I switched to teaching adaptive 8 years ago after teaching able bodies for 7 years. I still teach the occasional a/b lesson with return clients but 90% of my lessons are adaptive.

Skiing is an elitist sport that requires lots of money, at least that's how it is where I teach in the beautiful Colorado Rockies. The a/b people I teach aren't appreciative of their surroundings and the opportunity to come breathe the fresh air and participate in the greatest sport on earth. Instead they're worried about image and preserving ego. These people are a waste of my time and that's why I rarely teach them any more.

Disabled people are thrilled just to get the opportunity to be at the top of a mountain, to feel the cold air on their faces, to enjoy something that many thought they would never experience again. They say "thank you" because they received something that will sustain them for the rest of the year.

I feel sorry for ski pros that have to spend their time trying to teach ungrateful snobs who can't get off their cell phones long enough to learn something about skiing. Personally, I like spending my days with real people rather than the fake, plastic people I used to teach.
It's too bad you are such an angry person and certainly shouldn't typecast everyone who comes to Colorado to ski. Personally, I fell in love with Colorado and have made it my second home and Vacation place mainly for the serenity, beauty and the feeling I get after a hike to the highest point for miles. For me there is no greater feeling in the world than standing at the top of the world looking down mapping routes to ski that others may not have before. For me to be grouped with these people you call snobs isn't fair or right. I've met people like that but they're everywhere in every walk of life. no we don't have to like them but we do have to put up with them. Smile, ignore it and let them live their shallow stupid lives but don't typecast others as the same when it really isn't true. I commend you for teaching adaptive. It takes a special person with patience for that. Good for you but you have much to learn about people in general.
post #5 of 36
Thread Starter 
Lars, obviously not everyone that comes to ski at Winterpark where I work or Crested Butte where I live in summer is a rich stuck up snob, in fact these are two of the more down-to-earth resorts. My point was more towards the Vail, Beaver Creek, Aspen crowd where I used to work.

I guess after working with disabled people for 8 years I've come to view the able bodied as those who take everything for granted and thus they seem relatively ungrateful. I think people that can afford a ski vacation in Vail/Aspen/Beaver Creek do tend to take blessings in life for granted as for them, they aren't blessings or luxuries they're just regular amenities.

If you worked in these elitist enclaves as I did, you would see that humble, down-to-earth people are the exception not the rule. You go to one of the places and the tourists there are as fake and plastic as people come.
post #6 of 36
I saw you guys had training on Sunday too. Interesting weather day. Say hi to Sally & Pete. I never seem to run into them.
post #7 of 36
Hi Chaos, I know exactly what you mean. I'll be starting my 7th year teaching this year. The mountain at which I volunteer (Owl's Head, Quebec) for 9 weeks of my winter is the biggest adaptive skiing program in Quebec.

When I look at the 40 volunteers (20 teachers, 20 assistants) that come every week, all of them have smiles on their faces. We're not in it for the money, our paycheck is the smile on the kids (and adults!) faces at the end of the day because that day, they did not have to fight the snow in their wheelchair, they could use it to enjoy themselves.

This program gave me a new outlook on life. You meet great people and do something you love while you're at it : SKI!

I have lots of friends that teach at the ski school for the regular skiers, and I hear SO many stories about difficult students and bad days... I would NEVER trade places with them. All the money in the world would not make me switch!
post #8 of 36
While I certainly try to take nothing for granted, I believe I understand your point.

I am, however, curious about how you teach adaptive snowsports. I used to be a (low-level) instructor in PA, and I don't think I have the slightest idea how to start teaching someone adaptive sports. Did you go through training sessions yourself, using the equipment and practicing with it, or do you use a theoretical style of teaching with your students? If and when I get back into instructing, it would be great to know how to teach adaptive!
post #9 of 36
Hi Reduced..

Our website contains alot of info/picture (www.fshe.org).

I was lucky enough to have a girlfriend that came from around the mountain so we skied there and knew of the program. We decided to join up as volunteers and really liked the experience. As aids, we were not responsible for teaching, but learned a great deal working with a certified instructor every week (different instructor each week).

From there, the foundation offered level 1 training so we went ahead and followed the course. I took level 2 last year and should be doing 2a this year.

There are different levels of teaching, you need to do some theory, some demo but everything is very much hands on. Whenever I have free time I practice with the equipment because there's nothing like understanding what the student feels when they are using it.

For us, we do full day classes which sounds like alot, but it goes by quickly and you really get to improve the student's skiing. Loads of fun from a teaching perspective.

Wht parts of NY are you? If you can make it to Owl's Head on a Saturday, let me know and I can give you a tour of the equipment and how we operate!
post #10 of 36
Olografix how much time in the Mono/Bi do you get as a Cert.?
post #11 of 36
I'm not sure I understand the question. If you mean how many hours do I get to ride during a season? I'd say about 20-25 hours per season. It depends on how you teach that day and equipement availability. 2a is actually Mono/Bi teaching certification. I'm far from being an expert but I can easily manage an easy blue.

I'm not sure that answers your question...
post #12 of 36
Sorry. What I meant is how much time did you ride in the sit-ski. I noticed that sit-skis seem to have frequent broken parts.
post #13 of 36
That's also what I meant. 20 or so hours seems to be the amount of time I get to ride the equipement during a season. I've never had anything break on me and what I've seen break is mostly the pump used to lift the sit-ski on the chairlift (you can do without it, so not necessarily a big deal). The hydraulics don't seem to work well in the cold.

There's obviously wear and tear, but major breaks will mostly occur after a big wipeout!! (not fun, trust me...)

Mono's are better in terms of design to accomodate a more agressive kind of skiing, but with all that advanced engineering, chances of having something break seem more likely. This does not mean they can't take the abuse, I have students I have a hard time following with my regular skis!
post #14 of 36
Ok thanks for the reply and good for you on being in the Adaptive programs. We are thinking about setting some easy Race courses for the Adaptive skiers this year, any thoughts good or bad and I have to acknowlege the Lifties for helping load sit-skis.
post #15 of 36
Olografix,

I'm in the NYC area, so a bit far from where you are, but if I ever make it up to the area I'll be sure to try and stop by Owl's Head on a Saturday. It's about time I visited some of my friends in the Great North anyway!
post #16 of 36
Yet another side to that which is Chaos. Good job dude.
post #17 of 36
Hey skinny oreo, If you are up for it, check out the Hartford Ski Spectacular put on by Disabled Sports USA every year at Breck.
http://www.dsusa.org/programs-winter-hartford.html
I believe you can even do adaptive cert clinics there
post #18 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom View Post
Hey skinny oreo, If you are up for it, check out the Hartford Ski Spectacular put on by Disabled Sports USA every year at Breck.
http://www.dsusa.org/programs-winter-hartford.html
I believe you can even do adaptive cert clinics there

Yet another reason to head out to CO!

Here's a question: what determines whether the athlete uses a seated or standing adaptive system? (Assuming, of course, that the athlete has use of one leg–obviously it has to be seated for those with no use in either leg). Is it personal preference, or are there other forces that determine the style used?
post #19 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post
Ok thanks for the reply and good for you on being in the Adaptive programs. We are thinking about setting some easy Race courses for the Adaptive skiers this year, any thoughts good or bad and I have to acknowlege the Lifties for helping load sit-skis.
Definately HUGE thumbs-up to the Lifties! As for the race tips, remember that disabilities will be very different from one person to the next, so try planning for the racer that has the hardest time turning, others will enjoy their time regardless.

Get instructors to sit in sit-skis (preferably with side-skis attached) and try to course a few times. Adjust accordignly.

Make you finish line area as big as possible and try to gate it so that regular skiers don't go in... this is for obvious safety reasons.

We do a season race at the end of the year. 3 runs per student. We tell the students to try to improve their own time, not race against one another because it's really not fair to compare disabilities. First run, check out the course, 2nd run, get a good time, 3rd run, beat that last run!

Quote:
Originally Posted by reducedfatoreo View Post
Yet another reason to head out to CO!

Here's a question: what determines whether the athlete uses a seated or standing adaptive system? (Assuming, of course, that the athlete has use of one leg–obviously it has to be seated for those with no use in either leg). Is it personal preference, or are there other forces that determine the style used?
I'll also be at Breck this year for the Hartford, can't wait!! For your question, I'd say leg strength is the biggest factor. And this is true for both 1 legged and two legged skiers. We try to encourage anyone who can to do 3-4 track (standing) because it will give them more autonomy. Many diseases can cause having limited energy : multiple sclerosys, damaged spinal cords, etc. If standing is an effort (and you can usually tell pretty quickly when you meet a student), then you go to a sit-ski because if they tire too quickly, they won't have fun and will want to stop.

Arm and hand strength will also impact what is used because not everyone can use a stabilo (hand held ski to control turning).

You have to use a case-by-case basis because physical limits vary greatly.

PS : I'm really happy to share this info. I think skiing for disabled people is a wonderfull activity. Usually the problem is resources and if I can get more people to want to teach, that would be really wonderful!
post #20 of 36
Just an addon.. maybe a bit late but..
I've wrecked knees.. I now ski diasabled mono.. I was looking for reviews of mono-skis but saw the thread..
I just want to support the 'adaptive' training vibe here. I think the best ski holiday I've had was at ARE Sweden in a hotal 'full' of disabled children last year. No poseurs, real fun and an huge positive supportive dignity. If anyone ever soared like eagles it was those kids. I particulalry remember the pride of two parents watching their 15 year old son, dyed punk green hair and cerebral palsy. It was amazing.. he stagger 'stepped' into his bindings and suddenly his body went 'quiet' and he skied off. I was amazed. "He did a black yesterday" they told me..."skiings been the making of him"..
I still choke up thinking about it.
You're right about one thing Chaos. Teaching adaptive skiing has got to be a very rewarding activity. Keep doing it... and I think
Slider got it right too.
post #21 of 36
wehyam that's a wonderful event to be a part of.Thanks for sharing that with us.
I worked with disabled kids and young adults for years with the Special Olympics programs sponsored by the Kennedy Foundation and found myself having troubles at times containing the emotion of joy and wonder while watching these people compete.
I can easily see myself becoming an adaptive instructor some time in my future. The rewards are immense for those that do. We all could use some of that experience. It allows the vision of a truly balanced perspective on life.
post #22 of 36
yeh GarryZ.. I came away with a recalibrated value system.
I'm going back there this January.. it's a brilliant ski school, very swedish.. I think of the most important things it did was the good it did for the parents.. They got to ski too! Though of course they werent allowed to 'intrude' on the childrens lessons.

http://www.totalskidskolan.z.se/
post #23 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by wehyam View Post
... If anyone ever soared like eagles it was those kids. I particulalry remember the pride of two parents watching their 15 year old son, dyed punk green hair and cerebral palsy. It was amazing.. he stagger 'stepped' into his bindings and suddenly his body went 'quiet' and he skied off. I was amazed. "He did a black yesterday" they told me..."skiings been the making of him"..
I still choke up thinking about it.
...
You got me choked up just reading about it!!
In a good way, though.

I have a quick question about etiquette with an adaptive skier on the same run as you. A few weeks ago, I was on a wide, wide green and came up behind a skichair with a cloud of instructors/patrollers behind it. I reined it in until the group was on the extreme right of the run and then zipped by on the far left, crossing through some ungroomed snow to stay as far away as possible. I'm sure I was a good 100 feet away from the chair, but wondered after the fact if I had been rude. I didn't notice anybody else passing the adaptive skier, but could have just missed it...there were definitely a few people who were intentionally hanging behind it, and I assumed it was because they were novices and hesitant to try to pass the group (they looked a bit shaky).
What do you think? Should I have just held back and not passed, or was it OK to get by with a relatively huge distance between me and the adaptive skier?
post #24 of 36
You were fine. Thanks for showing some respect. I have had ppl cut right in front of sit-skiers. LAME! Those skiers behind the sit-ski are called blockers.
post #25 of 36
Thanks for your note, slider.
I love watching the sit-skiers, and am blown away by what some of them can do...the balance and control they exhibit is incredible.
As for those who cut them off, I suggest forward mounted grenade launchers on the sit-skis...
post #26 of 36
Virtus_Probi if you are interested in the Adaptive Program as a Volunteer just check with your local SS. They might even put you in charge of the Grenades;-)
post #27 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post
Virtus_Probi if you are interested in the Adaptive Program as a Volunteer just check with your local SS. They might even put you in charge of the Grenades;-)
Hmmm...can I still be of use as a volunteer with so-so skiing skills? I'm pretty big so I should be a good blocker, at least!


Grenades...BOOM...that blowed up REAL good...heh heh...
post #28 of 36
We have Volunteers with so-so skiing skills. Not all are lead instructors. We usually have two persons with a student, one lead instructor and one assistant.

The bigger you are, the more you will be appreciated to help with lifting up sit-skis when they fall and helping getting them in the chairlift! ... oh yeah and being a blocker!!

Good luck, it's a great thing to do!
post #29 of 36
Slider . Are the participants charged for their hill time or is it a voluntary operation for both the riders and their instructors ?

What training is available in our division or is adaptive instruction a whole different world with it's own structure of support ? If so then each hill would have it's own organization to become familiar with.

We have an adaptive program but it is rarely visible or occupied. Then on some days we will see a few folks moving about on the hill with their happy gang of assistants. All I see is smiles when they flow down the hill.
I probably need to stick my head in their door this year and get acquainted.
post #30 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by GarryZ View Post
Slider . Are the participants charged for their hill time or is it a voluntary operation for both the riders and their instructors ?

What training is available in our division or is adaptive instruction a whole different world with it's own structure of support ? If so then each hill would have it's own organization to become familiar with.

We have an adaptive program but it is rarely visible or occupied. Then on some days we will see a few folks moving about on the hill with their happy gang of assistants. All I see is smiles when they flow down the hill.
I probably need to stick my head in their door this year and get acquainted.
I guess that would depend on the hill's operation. I was at the Hartford Ski spectacular in Breck last week and talked to the US people. Their Adaptive Ski programs are part of PSIA and depending on the hill, instructors can be paid. Our operation is strictly on a volunteer basis so our boss can add as many zeros to our pay check for our raises!

Our students lessons are not free however, they are charged 35$ (CAD) for a full day which includes lift ticket, equipment and two volunteers (good deal if you ask me!).

The US gang has levels of training just like the regular PSIA training and from what I saw last week, it seemed pretty easy to find training all over the US. Also, not all hills have 7-day operations, many have weekends only (only Saturdays for us).

I'll suggest volunteering to anyone, you'll get more out of it than your students. Promise.
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