HoliMont has been proud to support the Phoenix Adaptive program since 1996. Challenged individuals have been given a chance to learn and enjoy a snow sports way of life thanks to dedicated instructors. People with a variety of physical and mental conditions take part in specially designed lessons so that they may enjoy the sensation of sliding on the groomed slopes of the Mont.
Using a wide range of specialty equipment, a big bag of teaching techniques, years of skiing experience and humongous hearts, the Phoenix Instructors offer a lifestyle to those who may otherwise miss out. Lessons are catered to the needs of the individual and includes family members and how they can contribute to the success of the student. There may be some hand holding, but these folks don’t take the easy road. The goal is to empower the participants and provide them a sense of accomplishment, good health and overall wellbeing.
I was a lifty in the early 90’s and remember a paralyzed man that was out every weekend. He had a sled type rig and we would stop the lift and hoist him into the seat. At the top, he would lift the bar and launch off the chair like a kayaker, scooting along with custom short poles and then skidding the back of the sled to make turns. I spoke to him on occasion. The sled was cool but his real desire was to carve and edge again. One day he showed up on a new contraption called a mono ski. Strapped into a seat and balanced on a shock that was mounted on a wide ski, he could now load onto the chair with less help and without stopping or slowing it. The trick was the top. This poor guy would eat it time after time trying to unload. It was painful to watch and I knew he was getting discouraged. I would run out of the top shack and help him up. You could tell he was embarrassed but I assured him that anyone who saw him was amazed at his determination. By the end of the season he was unloading off the lift and railing turns from edge to edge. Every run was finished with a sweeping carve, a beard full of snow and a smile that has been etched into my memory.
Later, as a snowboard instructor, I became friends with some of the adaptive teachers and was always impressed by their dedication and creative methods of teaching. In my new role at HoliMont, I’ve been pleased to set up special rigs for our Phoenix program. I watch parents unload kids and gear on snowy mornings as they head up our special elevator to start a day of shredding the slopes. Not once have I seen a frown on a face as they prepare for their lessons.
The culmination of these lessons are showcased during an annual event dubbed the Phoenix International Adaptive Race. Competitors from the USA and Canada will make their way to HoliMont on March 5, 2016 to test their skills and go for the gold. The event is open to the public and for over 10 years it’s offered excitement for those competing, supporting and spectating.
Please come out and support these amazing individuals and their coaches and cheer them on to victory in a competition where everyone is a winner. For more information, please go to holimont.com or call 716-699-8159.