There were some fast times, a few costumes and a lot of big smiles during the 2016 Herb Bradley Challenge.
The annual fundraising ski/snowboard race benefiting the Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports (VISAS) took place Feb. 21 at Mount Washington Alpine Resort. Area businesses put together teams and were joined by VISAS students for a dual slalom race that saw the teams that finished closest to their guesstimated finish time win chocolate medals and bragging rights.
This year, 15 teams registered for the Herb Bradley Challenge, and the event raised about $15,000. Event organizer Brian Gorman says this money will help VISAS pay for its annual Snowsports Festival and will also help the society’s race team get to some of the races it would like to go to.
Investors Group won first place in the slalom course, finishing just 3.01 seconds off the team’s guesstimated finish time. Westview Ford was second after finishing 7.6 seconds off its guesstimated finish time, and Thermo Tec was third after coming in within 24 seconds of its guesstimated time. Westview Ford was the fastest overall team, while the Bedrock Beauties won the team spirit award. Corey Nickerson was recognized as the fastest overall athlete after finishing the course in 15 seconds, and Oscar was recognized for having the best crash.
During the awards ceremony, VISAS president Tom Clarke thanked all the businesses and corporate sponsors who supported the event this year.
“This is our main fundraiser of the year, and this goes back 20 years and is pretty important to us,” he said, adding that Mount Washington Alpine Resort and its staff has always been very helpful and done a great job for the society.
The Herb Bradley Challenge is named after Herb Bradley, the founder of adaptive snowsports in the Comox Valley. Bradley led a small group of outdoor enthusiasts and began offering ski instruction for people with physical and mental disabilities at the Forbidden Plateau Ski Lodge in the early 1960s.
The Vancouver Island Skiing for the Disabled Society was officially established at Mount Washington Alpine Resort as a non-profit, charitable society in 1992, and the organization, which is now known as the Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports, now has about 90 volunteer instructors and supports more than 500 participants each season.
“Herb and I go back a long ways,” said Peter Gibson, Mount Washington’s president and general manager. “I started teaching for Herb when I was 16 at Forbidden. When Herb retired, we wondered if this program would continue, and it has not only continued, but it continues to grow. This program is the template for how to do an adaptive program in the country, and it’s the best.”