When I tell people that I guide blind skiers up and down the mountain, their response is invariably:
“What?? How in the world…?” But for me working with Foresight is natural, intuitive and FUN!”
I became aware of the organization 5 years ago while I was living in Vail and came across the Foresight information tent at a local festival. Having been involved in other adaptive programs and an avid skier my whole life, it seemed a perfect ﬁt. The idea that I could help these courageous VIPs (Visually Impaired Participants) enjoy their dream of skiing was truly an honor. I anticipated the process to be both challenging and rewarding, but what I didn’t expect was how much I would learn about these incredible people and myself. Not to mention how much fun it would be for everyone involved.
When I think of my day on the hill, safety comes ﬁrst and foremost. The VIP relies on me to ensure they are never in danger and that requires trust. Before I set out with any skier I make sure I spend some time getting to know them, not just in terms of their skill set on the slopes, but I also want to learn about who they are as a person. I also make sure they know enough about me so that they feel comfortable with my guidance. Once we get out there, I work with each person to improve their ability to maneuver on the mountain and gain conﬁdence.
I have lots of stories about incredible and inspiring moments on the slopes but one, in particular, comes to mind. A few years ago, Kevin joined our program, and I was the ﬁrst guide to ski with him. I knew a little bit about his condition and skiing ability. I like to start out slow with skiers whether they are veterans or brand new to the program and then progress accordingly. In Kevin’s case, his impairment only allowed him to see black or white. For him, black represents danger such as a tree or a rock. After skiing together for several days, we were blessed with an awesome powder day. To my awe and amazement, we ended up lapping Genghis seven times, and skiing 40,000 vertical feet! The day was ﬁlled with huge smiles and great stories shared by everyone. Later I found out that Kevin had been a medalist in the para-Olympics, his accomplishments that day were still astounding.
So, when I pack up my car in San Diego and hit the road at 3:30am to head to Vail for dinner that night, I do it with a big smile and know that I am the lucky one. The rewards are huge, and the adventures never end.