The sun shone, the weather was warm, many trails were snow covered, and I conquered my demons. Nine months after breaking my hip, and two years after I was diagnosed with Parkinson disease, I was delighted to learn I could still ski. More about that in a moment.
First of all, Pennsylvania’s Liberty Mountain has done an incredible job creating snow and grooming the mountains. Despite the late start to the season, experts worked their magic and made more than enough snow for skiing and snowboarding. That is quite a feat with weather in the 50’s and 60’s. It looked as though a thousand people or more took to the slopes on Saturday, January 7, 2012. It was a dramatic contrast to the golf course next to the slopes, and the brown fields and farmlands beyond. I don’t know what the future will bring, but this weekend was glorious. And this is a time when there is a general lack of snow in resorts all over this country and Europe.
Now, going back to my experience. My greatest fear was being able to walk and ski in my heavy boots and skis. I was completely dependent on my husband Charles Sneiderman to carry the equipment and help me get the heavy boots on and off (I make no secret of my disdain for today’s heavy, difficult boots - they are doing their part to ruin the sport and drive more people to snowboarding!). But once I was on the slopes, I felt like the young girl who danced down the mountains fifty years ago. My trembling and pain disappeared - it was magic.
I owe a special thanks to a New Zealand company that helped me keep my hip intact. A company called Impactwear.com sent me plastic pads that slip into the pockets of special under pants. It is billed as “protection against fall related hip fractures in the elderly.” It worked! I took one fall and hit exactly the spot I had broken last Mach. I honestly did not feel a thing. Of course, I could not get up without the help of Charles and my friends, but that is another story. I have real issues with getting up from the snow. Guess I am meant to just stay there and enjoy it.
This year will be a different ski experience in many ways. Charles and I signed up to volunteer with the excellent group that teaches disabled, or adaptive skiers. At Liberty it is called BRASS, or Blue Ridge Adaptive Snow Sports. It is organized and directed by two wonderful couples - Leslie and Dick White, and Trippie and Tom Penland. Leslie was the founder, and gave our group of volunteers a fascinating opening training session. Then my long-time friend Trippie took us up in the mountain and gave us training on the varied and intricate type of equipment used by the many disabled skiers and wounded warriors. We will have more detail on that as the season progresses. Charles and I will never be instructors - that takes years of training, dedication, and skill. But, it will be enough if we can assist the instructors and the students. In the process, they help us too.
By the way, many ski areas now have programs to help adaptive sports people and wounded warriors. They all need private donations to keep the costs of the programs low. In some cases, they are free to the participants. To contact BRASS and help out, email email@example.com. Now, get off the computer and get out and enjoy the slopes!
When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.