A skier and instructor prepare to hit the slopes at Mt. Washington. Scott Stanfield photo

Snowsports festival all about the fun

VISAS Festival for all ages

The People with ‘diverse abilities’ were treated to four days of lessons, lift tickets and rentals during the Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports (VISAS) Festival Jan. 6-10 at Mount Washington. About 25 participants of all ages enjoyed downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and sit-skiing.

The non-profit VISAS caters to individuals with a physical, cognitive or developmental disability. During winter, alpine lessons run seven days a week and nordic lessons five days a week.

“We have different options,” said Sebastien Braconnier, an instructor and VISAS board member. “If a person has lost a leg, they have the option to learn to tree track, which is one ski. They also have the option to sit ski. For people that have a hard time standing, we use belts and tethers to help them ski. We have many, many techniques to teach people with disabilities.”

Volunteer instructors also teach the visually impaired.

“We have all the adaptive equipment you can imagine, and we usually can figure out a way to get everybody out on the snow,” said Gina Stubbs, also a board member/instructor.

“The main goal is to have fun and learn,” added Braconnier.

The origin of the volunteer-driven society dates back to the 1960s when the late Herb Bradley started a disabled ski program at Forbidden Plateau.

“When Mount Washington opened, he brought the whole adaptive program to Mount Washington and incorporated the festival into our regular programs here,” Stubbs said.

The society’s major fund-raising activity is the annual Herb Bradley Challenge, where sponsors form a team with a student and enter a ‘guess-timation’ race. This year’s event is March 3.

Come summer, some of the 100-plus instructors run the beer garden at Nautical Days, which generates a couple thousand dollars for VISAS.

Another event is Veterans’ Ski Week, Jan. 27-31, sponsored by the Canadian Armed Forces Soldier On program — which seeks athletic opportunities for ill or injured service men and women.

“We see a lot more vets with PTSD,” Braconnier said. “It’s an amazing program.”

Learn more at www.visasweb.ca

Just Posted

Kus-kus-sum receives $1 million in provincial funding

New Democrat MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard is welcoming $1 million in provincial funding… Continue reading

Comox Valley Record putting the call out to Snowbirds shutterbugs

David Suther sent in this great pic of the Snowbirds, shot from… Continue reading

Too Good To Be Threw back in downtown Courtenay with second location

The new store opened Tuesday at 456 5th Street

World Community screens This Mountain Life in Courtenay

The awe that mountainous landscapes evoke is universal. World Community presents the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Comox Valley Stage 4 water restrictions lifted

Video explains planning and execution of repair

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

Sewer line repair underway at Goose Spit Park in Comox

Wastewater spotted near parking area at bottom of Goose Spit stairs

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

CONTEST ALERT: Win tickets to A Night of Bowie

UPDATE: Congrats to Angela Dawn, who won two ticketas to the show.… Continue reading

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Woman who was chased and tackled after break-in sentenced on Vancouver Island

Natasha Geraldine Harris, 28, was sentenced to time served and will be released from jail

Most Read