Sit-ski gives people living with a spinal cord injury a chance to race down the slopes again.
Taking a lift to the top of a snowy peak and then racing down on a pair of blades is a frightening experience for any first-time skier. Now take away one blade and the mobility of your lower extremities and give it a try.
The spinal injury statistics are alarming. Each week 11 people in Ontario will sustain a new spinal cord injury, and there are currently 86,000 Canadians living with spinal cord injuries.
Sit-ski provides a unique experience for people with paraplegia or quadriplegia to get back on the hill or even try a downhill sport for the first time. While it can be extremely scary to pass trust over to other people to help get on and off a chair lift, and be guided down a hill, it can be an exhilarating and even life-changing experience to race down the slopes.
Each year, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario hosts a fundraising ski and snowboard event to bring the community together and help introduce people to sit-skiing. “Our goal is to encourage active living for people with and without disabilities by providing the opportunity to ski or snowboard,” says Stuart Howe, CEO of Spinal Cord Injury Ontario. This year’s February 11th event at Craigleith Ski Club offered 12 people the opportunity to try sit-skiing for the first time. “Some of the people introduced today will continue to sit-ski for many years,” says Howe. “Some past participants have become very active, competitive and recreational sit-skiers.”
One of those people is Adrienne Alpert. A former slalom racer, she sustained a traumatic spinal cord injury at 18. “Through Ski & Snowboard Day I was given the opportunity to try a sit-ski,” says Adrienne. “The whole experience was a lot of fun and I regret letting so many years pass by before getting back on a ski hill.”
Of course the day is also about raising awareness and funds to go towards programs and services to support people with spinal cord injuries throughout the province. The sixteenth year marks a milestone of hitting the million dollar mark. Such an inspiring day for everyone involved.