To say I was excited would be a massive understatement! It had been sixteen years since I felt the bi-ski slide across the snow. Yes, sixteen years! Life had found it’s way to delay my dream of skiing with my husband again. However, I never gave up on this dream and secretly wished that I would get the opportunity to experience the freedom of snow skiing again.
My dream of returning to the slopes was not only driven by the sumptuous deep powder, but the incredible culture, and hospitality that I had experienced years ago. The culture that surrounds the slopes is a carefree lifestyle with a mantra of “Play hard. Rest Later.” It’s a culture and experience that somehow stirs my adventurous charter. After years of thinking about the snows of the west, I was finally able to make it happen this year.
When I try to explain my experience at Alpine Meadows, located near Lake Tahoe, NV, I find it difficult to really put it into words. It’s an experience that involves all the senses. The over stimulation is almost beyond description.
It is a breath of fresh air. Literally, when I rolled outdoors at 6,224 feet elevation and breathed deeply, my soul felt more awake than it had been in months! My mind instantly became clear. My instructor, Tim, explained that we would work together like a team. We would start to “dance” slowly. He would always be the “lead in the dance”. Skiing felt a lot like dancing. Twisting, turning, and leaping...all things that are difficult to experience in a wheelchair. I was skiing on natural snow. It was luxurious. Soft silky powder that was silent (a few ice crunches here and there). My instructor and I danced and swayed--it seemed--above the clouds. I experienced freedom, adrenaline, speed and at the very same time it felt hypnotic and soothing.
Physically my body was being challenged and pushed to it’s limit. After seven hours of skiing (with one thirty minute break to refuel our bodies) I knew that sleep would be inevitable! But for the moment my goal was to leave all my physical ability on the mountain.
We watched that day the sun set over the next mountain range. It was the most beautiful sunset I have ever experienced. One thing I realized on the slopes was how injury (in my case spinal cord injury) makes me reexamine my priorities. I have been living life sitting down for 36 years. But skiing and the freedom I experienced made me question what had I missed out on simply because of fear? Why had I waited for sixteen years to experience the slopes again? The answer didn’t come quickly. But I made the promise that day that I would live from that moment forward with No Regrets!
Somehow I had found myself in a place where between personal and professional responsibilities,I made very little time to play.The mountain had reminded that play was just as pivotal for me as it is for my kids. Skiing brought me joy. And the emotional “high” of this experience stayed with me for two days!
Many lessons were learned at Alpine Valley. But the one I hope to carry with me is to make time to play, and to play hard! There is always Tylenol and Hot chocolate to sooth the body and soul at the end of the day.
For more information on adaptive skiing visit: http://www.dsusafw.org/
Tell Tim and Allie - Leslie sent you!
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. 1502-09