Fiona McCormack carves Steamboat's Middle Rib run

Plenty Able: Keeping Up with Adaptive Ski Camp

by Greg I. Hamilton on February 9, 2011

1 degree above zeroThe average temperature on the mountain was one degree above zero, not counting wind-chill. You could say participants in this year’s Sixth Annual All-Mountain Camp braved the cold, but bravery doesn’t grin, hoot, and holler this much. This kind of exuberance seems like the furthest thing from overcoming obstacles. But for 27 skiers and snowboarders on the slopes of Steamboat for this event, the bravery to overcome obstacles is a major part of who they are.

Over a third of the camp participants are wounded veterans. The rest are here with some form of disability, from paraplegia to visual impairments. There is a returning camper who lost his legs in an IED explosion in Iraq. There is one who nearly died in a car crash. And Craig Kennedy, one of the event’s organizers, suffered SCI (spinal cord injury) right here on his adopted home mountain.

It took Kennedy five years to regain the strength and skills to return to the site of his injury on a monoski (a single ski mounted to a “bucket” seat, navigated entirely with the upper body). Now he revisits every year on the anniversary of his injury. Celebrating such injuri-versaries is commonplace among these people: most talk openly about their accidents, degenerative conditions, birth anomalies, or whatever may have contributed to their respective disabilities. And while they all have some form of inconvenience that their able-bodied counterparts do not, they seem to see past the “dis” in disability.

Kennedy, who has joined the permanent staff of STARS (Steamboat’s non-profit adaptive ski program), explained that people aren’t going to remember all the pain and suffering that they went through early on. Once they’re over the hump, they just don’t look back. That rings true with what I saw up there: lots of people looking forward and enjoying the ride.

Want more from this camp?

Thanks for reading. Cheers,

Greg

Photos by SteamboatDigs, a.k.a. yours truly

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