US Olympic Committee Hosts an Adaptive Ski Camp at Spirit Mountain with the High Fives Foundation
Two skiers were invited to 2016 Paralympic Nationals at Loon Mountain, NH.
DULUTH, Minn. Feb. 8, 2016. — In January, Duluth’s own Spirit Mountain hosted a 3-day ski adaptive ski camp for some of the area’s rising stars in adaptive skiing. Adaptive skiing uses specialized equipment to allow people with a wide range of disabilities to take to the snow as dynamically as skiing without disabilities.
The camp was lead by renown monoskier Josh Dueck. Dueck, 35, is a Canadian alpine skier. He won a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Paralympics in the men’s slalom sit-ski event. He worked with campers on the fundamentals of skiing, proper technique in the race course and ski tuning.
“It is our honor to have an elite coach training with elite athletes here at our mountain,” said Gretchen Ransom, operations manager at Spirit Mountain.
California’s High Fives Foundation paid the expenses for the eight athletes in attendance at the camp. The High Fives Foundation is a nonprofit in mountain action sports that gives grant funding to athletes who have suffered life-altering injuries. Grants go towards rehabilitative goals, such as returning to the sports that they love.
High Five executive director and founder Roy Tuscany said, “This is so exciting, being part of the progression of the sport on this international level.” Tuscany started the Foundation in 2009 after recovering from his own ski injury in the 2006. “All of these athletes are ripping skiers and have the ‘Olympic’ mentality. They’re programmed for winning, but they’re also programmed for fun.”
Campers ranged from age 43 to an 11-year-old ski prodigy name Blake Eaton.
“We met Blake on the second day of the camp during our night ski session and watched him shred, we were in awe,” said head coach Josh Dueck, “He joined us for the third day of the camp and continued to impress us with his natural ability both in freeski and in the racecourse. Without a doubt in my mind, if he chooses to be a ski racer, he will be a world-class leader.”
However, the standouts of the camp were 24-year-old Ezra McPhail and 23-year-oldJosh Scanlon. The two athletes were selected to attend and compete at the 2016 Paralympic Nationals in March at Loon Mountain, NH.
“Both nominees need to be exposed to the highest level of skiers in the country, to learn from and to be inspired by,” said Coach Dueck. “The best part is they are both instructors and will be able to take the knowledge and experience back to their communities and share it with the younger kids.”
“This is my fourth year skiing here at my home mountain, Spirit,” said Ezra McPhail. He is a High Fives Athlete, meaning he has received continued grant funding from the Foundation throughout his recovery. McPhail sustained a spinal cord injury in a hockey game in 2011. “My attitude is that if you push me towards a weakness, I will turn that weakness into a strength.”
The High Fives Foundation, in collaboration with the USOC, will host four more camps across the country throughout the 2016 winter season, cultivating high level competitive athletes.