February 7th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 6
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PPK to host first event that helps skiers/snowboards with disabilities
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Archive photo
ANNA KROUPINA
Pass Herald Reporter
Skiing and snowboarding are fun group activities for friends and families and Canadian Adaptive Snowsports (CADS) organization extends that inclusivity to people with disabilities.
For the first time in Crowsnest Pass, people with disabilities will have the chance to work with CADS’ trained instructors and specialized equipment to teach and help them hit the slopes. Volunteers and participants receive a free lift ticket, equipment rentals and snacks for participating.
CADS Alberta has partnered with the Pass Powderkeg Ski Area (PPK) to offer the one-day Slide & Ride try-it event on February 10 at the ski hill.
Slide & Ride allows participants with a physical, cognitive or intellectual disability and event volunteers alike to discover the joy of adaptive snowsports.
“The main idea is to get people who have a disability, regardless of age, to come out to try adaptive skiing and snowboarding and at the same time, to reach out to people who are interested in volunteering,” says Slide & Ride coordinator Nadia Smith. “It’s a day of skiing and snowboarding with a great group of people. There is also the opportunity to gain knowledge in terms of working with adaptive equipment, and to work with some great instructors that have experience working with people with a disability skiing and snowboarding.”
The Slide & Ride event opens up a world of ski and snowboarding to people with disabilities that they may not have had the opportunity to be exposed to before. The skier/snowboarder may require a different teaching approach, or costly specialized equipment may be prohibitive for individuals.
CADS will have trained instructors on-hand that can deliver specialized teaching, and various types of equipment that will accommodate physical disabilities.
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“We want to work with peoples’ abilities, so we want people to be as independent as possible,” says Smith. “For example, if they have a physical disability and they need to sit to ski, we bring in sit skis to ensure that we can support those participants. We also have outriggers, which are crutches with a ski at the bottom that allows certain people that can stand and ski or snowboard, but maybe need a bit of support for balance or stability if they’re skiing on one leg.”
No experience is required for volunteers or participants to partake in the event, only a desire to learn, be supportive and be outdoors.
There are many different ways for volunteers to assist that don’t require skiing or snowboarding, tasks both indoors and outdoors. It can take up to seven volunteers to aid a beginner participating requiring a sit ski, with tasks like tethering, blocking, watch for merges.
“We try to reach out to people in the community in order to assist us in getting this event going. Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to run these events. The idea is to have an event that is free for people with a disability and their family and friends because often, skiing is a family and friends affair, not just individual.”
CADS is hosting this initial Slide & Ride event to introduce the community to adaptive skiing and introduce the possibility of hosting a permanent club in Crowsnest Pass out of the PPK.
Brad Murray, operations manager for PPK, has been volunteering with the Lethbridge CADS for approximately two years and knows first-hand the benefits that the program can bring to a community.
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“There are so many people in our community that may have a disability in one form or another. There’s probably lots of them that don’t ski and this just helps us include them,” says Murray. “Personally, what I get out of it, is you get to renew why you are so excited about skiing because you get to see people enjoy it and you get to help with that. It’s just a bunch of people out there having a great time with skiing. When you help someone else, it reminds you how exciting it was to learn to ski and why you enjoyed it so much.”

The concept of inclusivity is also right in line with the Pass Powderkeg philosophy.

“It fits right with our whole focus that we’re a breeder-feeder ski hill, so it’s a really good fit with that as far as us being all about getting people skiing,” says Murray. “We are a community and we would love to see way more of the community involved in it up here. There’s more to the Powderkeg community and Crowsnest Pass than just being a hardcore skier,”

There’s also a personal side to Murray’s involvement with CADS, as he has two children with disabilities, a son with cerebral palsy and a daughter with autism.

But with the help of the Lethbridge CADS program, both his kids have become avid skiers.

“I got involved because I wanted my kids involved. To put my autism spectrum daughter into something like ski club, they’re probably going to throw a bunch of decisions at her, they’re going to put her in a group of people, all things that she’s not comfortable with. You have to change the way you coach and teach to someone like that,” says Murray.

The Lethbridge program runs out of Castle Mountain and has approximately 40 participants along with a waiting list, a sign, says Murray, that additional installments of this program would be welcome in Southwest Alberta.

This is the second year that CADS is hosting Slide & Ride events, and the one at the Pass Powderkeg is one of seven taking place across Alberta this ski season.

CADS is looking for volunteers to help with running and setting up the event. Anyone interested is invited to help out, regardless of level of experience skiing and snowboarding.

Interested participants are encouraged to register by February 7 at www.cadsalberta.ca in order for CADS to ensure that sufficient volunteers and equipment are present. Those willing to volunteer are asked to contact Slide & Ride coordinator Nadia Smith at slideandride@cadsalberta.ca.
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February 7th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 6
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