Where can people with cognitive or physical challenges experience the thrill of racing down a mountain slope in a competition with their peers? Where can a person who can’t walk without a walker or braces or who is in a wheelchair learn how to do a Giant Slalom race on a snowboard or in a sit-ski? For people on Vancouver Island, the answer is the Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports (VISAS) – a wonderful organization right here on Mount Washington.
Several people have been race-training every Sunday since the beginning of January, and some have been doing this for many years. Recently, this year’s team, consisting of Ron Greenhorn from Nanaimo, Joe Grubwieser, Don Nesbitt and Melissa Pemble from the Comox Valley and Basil Petropoulos from Duncan, travelled to Silver Star Mountain Resort, located near Vernon, for the Western Canadian Para-Alpine Championships, along with coaches Tom, Jen and Oscar and their own cheerleading squad.
Two Giant Slalom races were held on Saturday, March 2, followed by a banquet and awards ceremony. Young superstar racer 12-year-old Melissa won gold in both of her races. Basil, as the only snowboarder, won gold as well. Don, a former champion long boarder, who just joined the race team this year after suffering severe injuries in a vehicle accident a couple of years ago, amazed everyone with his very positive attitude and ability to handle his sit-ski. Joe and Ron both raced very well but unfortunately didn’t quite make it to the podium this time.
Two Slalom races were held on Sunday morning, followed by an outdoor awards ceremony in a snowstorm. The medals were combined for both races – Melissa won gold again in her category. Basil did not race in the Slalom, and Don, Joe and Ron were both out of the medals, but everyone had a great time, and it was a wonderful experience for them all. The host Silver Star Adaptive Snowsports Society was very helpful to the team and their entourage.
Special thanks to training coordinator Tom Clarke, assistants Jen Bowlby and Harry Piercy and former training coordinator Bob Hodgson for giving of their time and expertise throughout the season.
For anyone interested in learning more about adaptive snowports including VISAS’s race program on Mount Washington, check out the website at www.visasweb.ca or DSABC (Disabled Skiers Association of BC) at www.disabledskiingbc.com. The race results are also available on the DSABC website.
– Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports