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Sunday, 5 June 2016

First adaptive skiing lesson

Last Christmas, my mum had just moved house and rather than try to add Christmas shopping into the chaos, she gave each of us some money. Neil and Josh immediately bought tickets to see Cold Play in concert at the Etihad Stadium. I had wanted to start adaptive skiing lessons, so I put it away until I could get that organised.

I tried to contact DSUK (Disability Sport UK) several times in late winter and early spring but there was never anyone in the office and I almost gave up. Then, eventually, I spoke to a guy who knew them and he said it was their busiest time and to try after Easter. So I did, and managed to book my first lesson at ChilFactore for the same day as the Cold Play concert... yesterday.

Andy came with me and took some photos but he said it was difficult to get good ones because he was up on a balcony and the brightness of the snow made it difficult to focus and get the right exposure. I've done some cropping and autocorrecting just to give you an idea of what it was like.

My teacher was a Polish lady called Barbara or Basha (not sure about spelling). It took a couple of tries to get me the right equipment. The first one I tried was really narrow and too tight around my legs but the second one was pretty near perfect fit. Although long term, I want to be able to ski independently, this was my first lesson and she kept hold of me the whole time.

I was a little nervous anyway, but I was sort of expecting that we'd start from half way up, like you do on normal skiing lessons. So I was a little worried when we went straight to the top without any instructions or anything. When we got up there though, Basha explained what we were going to do and it was absolutely fine.

Me and my teacher on the ski lift
Ski lift

You can just about see that I am connected to the lift with black straps. They were stored in a bag, wrapped around my legs. I think they were attached to both of us. The lift then dragged us in the usual way and when we got to the top, Basha did something (magic) and all the straps popped off. Eventually I worked out that it was easier if I caught them and held them off the snow while she pushed me round the corner to the top of the slope.

Me skiing down the slope
Skiing with the teacher

The bucket seat is attached to a pair of parallel skis (rather close together) and you steer by leaning to the left or right. The first time, she told me to just tilt my head but after that, I learnt how to lean my whole body to go the right way. I'm not sure whether that would have worked though if she hadn't been holding the back... but in time. It feels a bit strange leaning over, as though the whole thing might tip over. Also, I found it much easier going left than right.

Skiing straight down the slope
Skiing straight

Leaning into a turn

The lesson lasted an hour. It cost £51 through DSUK and if Neil had wanted to come as a ski buddy, it would have cost him £1. I think that is great value! I'll certainly be going again. I think I'm going to try to get one lesson a month through the summer.

Birds eye view of me and my teacher
Birds eye view

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