Sports

Adaptive sports program launches at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Drew Derosier goes sit-skiing down Wooly Bully trail at Revelstoke Mountain Resort with help from Rod Battersby. - Alex Cooper/Revelstoke Times Review
Drew Derosier goes sit-skiing down Wooly Bully trail at Revelstoke Mountain Resort with help from Rod Battersby.
— image credit: Alex Cooper/Revelstoke Times Review

The Revelstoke Adaptive Sports Program was launched at Revelstoke Mountain Resort on Saturday, with a day of festivities where the public was allowed to try out the organization’s fleet of sit-skis.

The program has been years in the making, but really got going last winter when a formal organization was set up. They had their official launch on Jan. 4, with guest sit-skiers Jeff Scott and Landon McGauley on hand for the event.

Before the formal part of the day, McGauley and Scott went to take a run from the top of the gondola down to the day lodge. They skied down the Last Spike, stopping near the bottom of the Stoke Chair, where Scott showed people where he had his life-changing injury  jumping off the bottom roller just above the chair.

They skied down the Last Spike, to Snow Rodeo then Wooley Bulley and Sunshine and all the way to the day lodge. Scott had an instructor holding on to him, while McGauley handled the turns by himself.

Scott broke his spinal cord in the crash, transforming his life. He co-founded the Live It! Love It! Foundation with his ex-girlfriend Izzy Lynch and now lives in Victoria, where he goes to school and plays wheelchair rugby.

He tries to sit-ski whenever he can and has made trips to Shames ski area near Smithers, B.C., Mount Washington, Silver Star, Whistler and Revelstoke.

“It’s a special place wherever you’re doing it. I feel reconnected,” he said.

Since Scott can’t ski all the time, it’s been a slow progression for him to learn how to do it. So far he skis mostly greens and some easy blues and always has someone holding on to him. Last year he got to do some powder skiing on Boulder Mountain thanks to local business Soul Rides.

“I’ve been fortunate to have friends wherever I go who can assist me,” he said. “They don’t have training, so I’m just figuring it out as I go. It might slow my progression, but I get to do a lot more with them.”

His goal is to be able to link turns by himself on groomers. “If I can get to the point where I can do that on powder, I’ll be on Cloud Nine,” he said.

At the day lodge, Ron Glave, the president of the Revelstoke Adaptive Sports Program, thanked everyone for their support.

Rob Elliott, the general manager of the resort, gave credit to the RASP committee for being so well organized and getting things going so quickly.

“This is an exciting development for the resort,” he said. “One of the missions I’ve been pursuing is making the resort a friendly place, making it special for everybody. Adaptive skies, senior citizens – I want them to come here and go home with a pleasant memory.”

McGauley also spoke. He said one of his first goals when he was hospitalized was to go skiing again. He hopes everyone else with a disability is given the same opportunities he was to get outdoors. “Having this here will allow anybody with a disability to get out and enjoy this awesome mountain,” he said. “I can’t wait to see some more sit skiers and one legged skiers over here to shred.”

Afterwards, I went for a ski with Drew Derosier. Derosier, who is in grade 12 at RSS, has cerebral palsy and has grown up in Revelstoke in a wheelchair. He went sit-skiing a few times at Silver Star, but last year he started doing it most weekends in Revelstoke.

“I’ve lived in this town my whole life and I haven’t been able to ski. so this opens up a whole new avenue for me,” he said.

For Derosier, the program allows him to enjoy the resort and get out skiing with his friends. “It’s really cool, because they get to see me ski too,. he said. “It’s quite the experience. I love it. It’s awesome.”

Derosier was supported by his father Cliff and family friend Rod Battersby. They guided him down the mountain – along the Last Spike and then down Snow Rodeo.

They went way faster than I expected. I thought I’d be able to speed ahead, set up for some pictures and then move along, but they were on my tail the whole way down. Visit the Times Review Facebook page to see a video of Derosier skiing.

Back at the day lodge, I tried out a sit ski. I went up the magic carpet with Fiona Ward, who was involved with the adaptive ski program in England for a decade before moving to Canada. She is now a certified adaptive skiing instructor in Revelstoke.

For the first run, she held on to the back of my chair, helping me turn as we went slowly downhill. I had to figure out how to shift my weight and use the outriggers in my hands to help me turn. For the second run, Ward stayed close by as I went down by myself. I made it without falling, so I’ll consider day one a success.

 

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