Northern Adaptive Snow Sports (NASS) intends to leave no one behind.
On March 8, NASS partners with the Disabled Skiers Association of BC to offer a three-day Level 1 Certification Course for Instructors.
The group, formed in 2007, has specialized equipment available at Hudson Bay Mountain but there’s a shortage of instructors trained to teach the proper use of adaptive ski equipment.
“The idea of this program is so that no one is left behind and they don’t miss out on that opportunity,” Brian Huntington, one of the community members responsible for the forming of NASS, said.
“Now that we have the equipment here, the next challenge is to have enough instructors who are confident and skilled to use the equipment and able to offer support to be able to help others get up on the hill.”
NASS volunteer Glenys SnowDymond said having the equipment available is only a small part of what is needed to make the program a success.
“One of the most important ways for a ski program to happen and continue beyond the initial course training sessions is to establish and develop a strong nucleus of individuals in the community who will be able to assist the disabled skiers coming to the hill,” she said.
Pam Craig’s daughter, 10-year-old Emily, is one of the benefactors of the NASS program.
Emily is in Grade 5 at Twain Sullivan Elementary School in Houston.
Last year, her class began travelling to Hudson Bay Mountain for ski days.
Cindy Pottinger, a support teacher at the school, connected with Huntington who brought Emily up onto the ski hill using the sit-ski.
Without the assistance of the NASS program, and especially Brian Huntington, Emily wouldn’t have enjoyed the thrill of racing down the mountain, the wind in her face, Craig said, her voice cracking with emotion.
“It opens a world up that would never be accessible to her,” Craig said.
“She’s such a speed demon and she’s such a little daredevil to begin with, so we knew she’d love it.
“Brian was a little cautious with her at first and we said, ‘No, just go!’”
Although non-verbal, she was clearly enjoying herself, Craig said.
“She absolutely loves it,” she said.
“The squeals, the laughing, the arm pumps and pointing to the chair.”
Using the sit-ski also helped unlock a passion for the sport in Terrace’s Caleb Brousseau.
He was the first person to use the NASS program’s sit ski.
Now, he’s a member of Alpine Canada’s Para Alpine Team.
In 2011-2012, his first season on the World Cup circuit, Brousseau skied to a pair of Top-10 finishes.
“The sitskier is regarded as one of the team’s stars of the future,” the Alpine Canada website states about Brousseau.
The NASS program is one Huntington feels a personal connection with.
After his brother passed away at the age of 16 from leukemia, his family started a foundation in his honour with the purpose of providing a winter ski experience for terminally ill children.
This program is a natural extension of that work.
“That’s my goal, that this energy, smile and spirit be attainable for everybody,” he said.
“They need inspiration and energy just like the rest of us.”
The cost for the course is $50.
There is both classroom instruction and on-snow training.
All candidates for the course must be a member of the Disabled Skiing Association of B.C., and have either a Level 1 ski or snowboarder’s certification.
To register for the course or for more information, call Lisa Wilkie at Hudson Bay Mountain at 250-847-2058 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone who would like to utilize the equipment is asked to call Hudson Bay Mountain at 250-847-2058 or Brian Huntington at 250-842-2332 to make arrangements ahead of time.