Canucks and Aussies learning from each other

Andy Social of Edmonton can use his legs, but this week, he was learning to use a sit ski on Mount Washington.

WARRANT OFFICER Class 2 Dennis Ramsay of the Australian Defence Force

Andy Social of Edmonton can use his legs, but this week, he was learning to use a sit ski on Mount Washington.

Social, who sustained a serious back injury while serving in Afghanistan in 2006, is one of 14 Canadian Forces members from across the country and three members of the Australian Defence Force participating in the fourth annual Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports (VISAS) Veteran’s Learn to Ski Festival this week.

Hosted by VISAS, Mount Washington Alpine Resort and Soldier On, the festival introduces disabled veterans to adaptive skiing and snowboarding.

Social has a spinal injury and can still use his legs, but he has used this opportunity to try sit skiing.

“Some of my best friends are paraplegics and use sit skis, and I wanted to experience what they experience,” he said. “Sitting in a sit ski gives you a whole new perspective. It takes a whole lot of upper body strength.”

For Social, who plays sit volleyball back home, the camaraderie among festival participants is important.

“It’s been absolutely eye-opening,” he said of the festival. “It’s awesome. The camaraderie between all of us Canadians, all of us injured, plus the Australians has been absolutely awesome. In three or four days, we’ve gone from complete strangers from different parts of the world to a family.”

Social has been impressed by the VISAS volunteers.

“They’ve been absolutely fantastic,” he said. “I think what they’re doing, not just with us, I think the word should get out.”

For Greg Lagacé, manager of Soldier On, an event like the Veteran’s Learn to Ski Festival is important to show the ill and injured what they can do.

“Our mission is about improving the quality of life of the ill and injured and also their families,” he said. “We use opportunities like this to help open up doors and expose them to the abilities they have inside them. We hope when they go home, they will be inspired to do physical activity.”

Involving families is very important to Soldier On and this year, the program brought eight family members to the festival.

“That’s a huge thing to make things more comfortable,” said Social, who was able to bring his brother Roger. “These are the people who have been there right from the start. They’re there from Day One for support, and they support you all the way through.”

This is the first time the Australians have participated in the Veteran’s Learn to Ski Festival.

“We’re really enjoying the opportunity,” said Lt.-Col. Jamie Patten-Richens, the Australian Military Attaché. “This is a really exciting opportunity to look at the way it’s done in Canada. Our militaries are quite similar in size and organization, but what we’re finding is the way we do things or the way Canada does things is slightly different, and it’s always good to learn from each other.”

Patten-Richens expects that the Australian Defence Force Paralympic Sports Program — the Australian equivalent to Soldier On — will continue to work with Soldier On.

“We see this as the start of a partnership with Soldier On because, like Soldier On, we don’t just focus on skiing or winter sports but on a full range of adaptive sports for our members,” he said.

Just Posted

27th Annual Courtenay and District Fish & Game Outdoor Show coming in June

June is just around the corner and so is the 27th Annual… Continue reading

Vacancies on Courtenay Board of Variance

The City of Courtenay is seeking new members for an important volunteer… Continue reading

No injuries in early morning Comox car fire

Comox firefighters responded to an early morning vehicle fire Monday near the… Continue reading

New version of outdoor art show set to take place in Comox in August

Despite the announcement earlier this year of the cancellation of the Originals… Continue reading

Tales from MusicFest: ‘House bands’ from the golden age of rock and R&B

Robert Moyes Special to The Record Doug Cox, artistic director and executive… Continue reading

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read