story from a High Fives Foundation Adaptive Camp of 2018


“I want to share a story with you, a story of why I love skiing, and some of the incredible and inspiring people involved with the sport.” – Jay

I attended the High Fives Foundation adaptive camp in Winter Park Resort, Colorado. I’m almost ashamed to admit that it is the first one I’ve been present at. Whether through my employer or as an individual, I’ve interacted with High Fives in almost every way possible, save for as an athlete or an adaptive camp. We’ll, I was able to cross the latter off this past weekend, and it was a truly powerful experience.
A little background, this was not my first time with an adaptive skier. My father is missing half of one of his legs from a motorcycle accident, and remember watching videos of him skiing on one ski, with riggers instead of poles. As a child, he was really only able to turn one direction, and turning back was incredibly difficult and often resulted in him making himself fall in order to come to a stop.
Getting up on the hill was no trouble for me any all, albeit the lines were long as it was a weekend day at a Colorado ski mountain. On my second lap I spied a high fives logo on a jacket a ways down the hill, sure enough it belonged to one of two monoskiers. Sure enough it was Trevor Kennison and Scott Will, two High Fives Athletes that were part of the camp that week. It was my first time meeting Scott, and I’ve gotten to know Trevor quite well from other events, and from sitting next to him on a flight from Denver to Reno for the Silver Time Gala. I was STOKED to finally make some turns with him.
Trevor asked if I wanted to hit the park with him, he was hitting the jumps and wanted to keep sessioning them. I was eager to oblige, in an attempt to exercise and retain skills from my younger days. Trevor went first with complete confidence, hitting both cheese wedge jump take offs with authority and determination. Then I went, and Scott brought up the caboose, rolling the knuckles and not hitting the actual jumps.
Next lap I dropped in right on Trevor’s heels, following close enough behind him so that we were both in the air at the same time. For those unfamiliar with this practice, it’s what we call ‘train-ing’ – similar to multiple train cars in a row following a similar path, we were in the air taking the same trajectory. Scott, he was inspired to leave the ground and hit the first jump, skidding to a stop with the biggest grin on his face. Needless to say excitement and enthusiasm was at an all time high.
The next hour or so we lapped a mid-mountain chair, going from the top of Winter Park Resort down a cat track, playing in the moguls, onto a wide and fast trail, and hitting the terrain park before jumping back on the lift. Scott’s confidence and stoke grew with every run. For his 20th day on a mono-ski, he was shredding hard.
In skiing we say that the best way to get better, is to ski with someone better than you. Trying to keep up, to hit the same lines, identify the same transitions and places to gain or scrub speed, it’s challenging and increases your skill, your confidence, and your ‘fun’ level. That’s exactly what was happening every time we took a lap.
Next, we headed over to the front side of the mountain, where Allison was lapping the Gemini chair with some instructors and other High Fives Athletes. On this part of the mountain the overall pace was slower, the pitch of the trail was lower, and there were less people riding down the snow next to us. Her skill set was still at an early stage, in the process of being developed. Falling happens at this point in ones journey as a snow-sports participant, and it happens often. Adaptive athletes are not afforded the same ability to ‘pizza’ the entire mountain, they have to learn advanced techniques like linking turns. It’s not an easy task for a first timer when using two planks, and looks even more difficult sitting on one, not able to control every muscle in your body.
 After joining up with Allison and High Fives Staff, we really came together as a group to encourage and inspire each other. And what a crew we had, the energy level was absolutely electrifying. Beginner or advanced, mono-skier or two-planker, everyone were equals on the slopes, able to truly share the experience together. During a late afternoon break, a few of us were sitting around a table talking about the runs we just took, being excited for each others accomplishments, and getting more stoked and excited for the next time.
It was incredible watching the barriers that adaptive athletes have to deal with almost disappear for a few hours. “This is it” I thought, this is why I love skiing. These people LOVE skiing, and were inspiring others through their love of the sport.
Seeing the sense of accomplishment, of independence, of equality, of their joy, is truly indescribable. I’ve supported these events, read the recaps and saw the photos/videos, but I didn’t truly realize it until I witnessed it first hand.
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