I’m Done Skiing Alone

When I was a little kid living on a farm, I’d play by myself in a big tractor tire that served as a sandbox. I developed a reputation for playing alone. “Harvey doesn’t need playmates, he’s happy all by himself!” It wasn’t true, down inside I didn’t like it, but I didn’t know myself well enough to push back.

“Trust me, this opens up down below.”

As I got older I came to understand myself better. In high school, I joined the cross country team and made best friends for life. Twenty five years after that, I discovered skiing, and it took me another two decades to learn the lesson all over again, in a new setting. A single life-changing event twenty years ago — a solo backcountry ski tour — delayed my embrace of this lesson.

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The Adaptive Sports Foundation at Windham

Adaptive Sports Foundation 2015 Hartman Race
Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown, Courtesy of ASF

Windham Mountain in the northern Catskills is known for hosting the Adaptive Sports Foundation (ASF), a well-regarded program that allows children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities to experience the joy of snow sports. Last Saturday, ASF held its first-ever Awareness Day to spread the word about the organization’s vital work.

Headquartered in a dedicated 7,200 square-foot lodge with its own equipment shop, ASF’s 240 volunteer instructors donate more than 20,000 hours per year adding up to more than 4,000 lessons, with 3,500 of those during ski season.

In addition, since developing the Warriors in Motion® program 13 years ago, more than 1,500 wounded veterans and family members have used ASF’s services.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas

ptsd santaIt happened too fast to process. One moment I was carefully navigating frozen boilerplate on Upper Tamarack at Stratton, and the next I had hit a patch of sticky fresh manmade snow beneath the bellowing guns. I was tossed forward off my skis and into a trailside tree at almost 30 miles per hour.

I was dimly aware of my body wrapping around the trunk sideways, getting boomeranged back and sliding ten feet further down. I was screaming louder than I’ve ever yelled in my adult life, certain that I’d be carried off the slope on a stretcher. I felt things break inside. But as I spun to a stop, I realized that my cries were inaudible beneath the roar of blasting snow guns – not that there was anyone to hear me.

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