About a year ago, a friend told me I should try adaptive skiing. I laughed.
But this past weekend—because my FOMO is greater than my fear of skiing—that is precisely what I did.
And at the top of the first little hill, strapped into a sit-ski with mixed emotions of excitement and terror, I felt like I lost a bet, but I wasn’t even mad about it.
When my husband and I were invited on a couple’s getaway to Big White Ski Resort, I never thought I would get out on the mountain. I always thought sit-skiing was one of those adapted sports that only really strong, Paralympian type athletes could do. But my curiosity got the better of me – and because I didn’t want to sit in the condo the entire weekend – I did a quick search that introduced me to the adapted ski program at Big White.
As it turns out, you can teach your average paraplegic like me to sit-ski. Big White’s adaptive program is run by Powderhounds Adaptive Snowsports and BC Adaptive Snowsports, and whether you want to learn to ski the slopes on your own or just go for a fantastic ride down the mountain with the instructors, they can make it happen. Their team of certified volunteer instructors are there to help people of all ages with different physical, cognitive or sensory challenges, get out and explore the beauty of Big White.
Each instructor I worked with filled me with confidence, and they all seemed genuinely excited to help me get on the mountain. They pulled me up small hills, gave different ideas when something wasn’t making sense, helped pick me up when I fell over and took me for a couple of amazing rides down the larger, steeper sections of the mountain. If you have ever wanted to feel what it’s like to ski down a mountain but didn’t think you could, this program is for you. Even if you are stubbornly independent (like me) and you are sceptical of being taken for a ride down the mountain, I would urge you to reconsider—it was a blast.
The mountain itself was beautiful. Big White’s beginner learning area is perfect for both kids and adults just starting and I love the fact you can pay for a discounted beginner day pass if you are only going to use the learning area and the Plaza Chair. Our entire group was impressed with the mountain and its 15 lifts and 119 runs—the diverse terrain kept everyone happy. The rental shop was fast and efficient and got everyone up on the hill with the right gear.
Tip: Residents of British Columbia and Alberta can save on lift tickets by purchasing a Biggie Card at select locations across the two provinces.
While there are some logistical issues of visiting a snowy mountain in a wheelchair, the team of instructors were happy to troubleshoot the best way to get me to the sit-ski. And when we woke up our first morning to fresh snow and sunshine, I was thrilled to be able to get outside and be a part of the experience instead of watching everyone else enjoy it. Being in a sit-ski not only allowed me to get out on the mountain with my husband again, but it gave me the freedom to explore places I never could while in my wheelchair. And it renewed my faith that skiing is something we could still do as a family. Next year I hope you will find me—and my three kids—on the bunny hill together.