Cardrona adaptive

Posted August 13, 2018

Rumor has it the latest in bi-ski technology has made the kiwi a teen I fell in love with the mountains. First job I held was grader driver for Fox Peak club field, an excuse to live on the side of a mountain, a stepping stone to get in the industry. My last season as head of ski patrol on temple basin in 2001 was nearly my last winter as my endless summer took hold. I never lost the lure of the powder, a Swiss winter plus USA and Canadian fringe seasons kept my addiction in check.

In my new world as a quadriplegic I pushed the ski idea to the back, still pursuing the endless summer with European and Mongolia missions I snuck away, avoiding cold short days, making the most of our globe, sunny side up.

The thought of skiing as a quadriplegic never really inspired me, unable to take control, getting limoed down the slopes on a freezing mountain side never appealed. As a C5 quadriplegic no hand, tricep function, very limited arm strength and no control from my shoulders down, my tiny body doesn't regulate temperature or move, no star jumps to warm for when I need to pee well, another story.

I do appreciate when others see me more physically abled, jump in a mono ski and carve like there's no tomorrow....but funnily enough all abilities are different and I believe I make the most of mine.

The atmosphere hit me in the face, stirring my memory bank and frosting my fingers. I had hit one of the coldest days of the season, a bitterly southerly wind burnt my cheeks...waiting for the -5C to rigid my muscles, chill the surgical steel in my neck and the pain of freeze to arrive. Call me anxious but mind over matter is a constant in my world.

But it never arrived, my technological mix of merino & down added with Sorel camel & little world snug in the helmet & googles, I was invincible...all that worry for nothing

With my legendary mate Rob & carer Lena in push as I'm not going anywhere fast without, we meet up with the ultimate team at adaptive snow sports Cardrona. The adaptive programme has been offering these amazing experiences since ages ago. With a magnitude of adaptive ski equipment, awesome crew of instructors and volunteers, you're in the hands of pros, big smiles and nothing's a problem characters. Taking it all in as I go my steed greets me in all her glory, never before has she been cruising with the likes of me on a southern mountain, this dynamique bi-ski had arrived just a week earlier. This incredible piece of equipment is the link between the older style bi-ski and a mono. My adaptive guru Sam seems just as excited as me as last minute adjustments, straps and duct tape hands complete the flight check...this experience is about to get real.

The facilities at Cardrona are always developing and on this Baltic day the new gondola was a lifesaver for my delicate body. No stopping this experiment as it was time to unleash this beautiful baby. Our first ride Sam took the handles and gave me false confidence as we barrelled down the hill in total control. My tiny arms danced, the outriggers a sensory extension absorbed the dry snow carving through the turns and my veins. In my googlefied world it was just me, Sam although behind was non existent. The new edges of the ski sliced through the smooth dry snow, sparkling crystals blew through our the moment, environment and instant....this is why I live for these experiences, to be....

Time speeds as the gondola services our need for gravity, our social moment is put on hold and the next stage is set. What learning Sam deploys the tethers, little assistance is needed as I drop in, now the balance is mine. Tiny movements initiates the turn...luckily for me as tiny movements are all I have. Off we go, I feel Sam restrict my speed, first turn pushing off my outrigger to initiate the next, tilt of the head, look down the fall line, boom this rocks, am I really in control? The undulating slopes below me a as my confidence grows only to be dashed on the next turn..learning the limits of strength and balance, speed my friend and enemy. Too committed there's no coming back, my turn comes to its end....face first, nothing like a the feeling of a good hit to remember reward. Progression comes fast and with a few days under my belt feel indestructible...I've concluded this is a dangerous hobby, not from pain nor injury but addiction.

The adaptive snow sports are there for all, Cardrona and the crew make everything supper easy. If you've never experienced this magical environment, surprise yourself. Rumor has it it's worth it.

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