I keep a tally of how many days I have skied. This is my progress pushing through physical and mental barriers.
You never forget your first time. It was 2008, I was in year 11 and on a school excursion staying in Jinderbyne and skiing at Perisher for two days. I was given the opportunity after my teachers asked my Mum if she would like me to have the opportunity and she enthusiastically said yes. I had become sick on the first part of the excursion in Canberra and felt even worse when combined with nerves. I met Paul from Disabled Wintersport Australia (DWA) who sorted out equipment and skied with another Paul who was an adaptive instructor at Perisher. We began with the gentle magic carpet to get a feeling for the sit ski. I tried outriggers but I wasn’t strong enough and my hands were freezing. I was given the opportunity to continue in the afternoon with DWA guides but the morning was enough for me. Day two we explored more of the mountain. It was crazy to be going over jumps and into the half-pipe with some of Paul’s snowboarding friends and coming out with black marks on my jacket. We even survived a scary experience of having trouble releasing from a t-bar. I loved the experience and now had the goal of returning and improving.
I kept in contact with my ski instructor Paul and dreamed of returning. It seemed expensive, I had no idea what to organise or how, and I was busy caught up with study.
I was given the opportunity to have my Starlight Wish granted. After tossing up different ideas in 2013 my Starlight wish was granted but this time to Thredbo, staying on snow with four days of morning lessons with a qualified adaptive instructor, Kenton. I felt a little more daring and told Kenton that I will say no but lets do it anyway. We again were riding going over jumps and on the rider cross. It was another amazing experience and I knew it was something that I wanted to continue. At the end of my Starlight Wish my instructor said goodbye and that he planned on seeing me again next year.
From Santa for Christmas I received great new ski gear including pants, jacket and a helmet. I already had boots. I also bought myself new goggles and mittens. I had to return now to use my great new gear.
I returned in 2014 with the goal to gain more independence. I booked myself a spot on my first sit ski camp with Disabled Wintersport Australia (DWA) at Perisher and had four days to learn with adaptive instructors and DWA guides. I was doing quite well in the mono ski and doing what I thought would never be possible. This was until I stacked it, slide down the hill and hurt my shoulder. I pushed through for another run but could barely move the following day and settled instead to be bucketed.
After a few days break I returned to the snow but this time Thredbo to ski again for three days with Kenton. It wasn’t too painful as I continued what I had learnt the previous week and my turns improved. It was an amazing feeling and to see Kenton too was thrilled at my progress. We had breaks to explore more of the mountain with Kenny doing all the work. I even skied on my birthday with Kenton happily agreeing to wearing a pink tutu made by my Mum.
I had dreamed of skiing overseas and had heard reports of how great the powder is in Japan. My friend Cara helped make it a reality when we decided to make a trip to Japan and include some time at the snow. I had three wonderful days with adaptive instructor Nikki. The sit ski had two skis underneath which I didn’t have much experience with and chickened out on being tethered. That was fine as I was bucketed and we had a great time exploring the powder.
2015 came around and I booked myself on another DWA camp. This time the camp was at Thredbo. I was having trouble with the mono ski and was feeling frustrated. Matti stepped in, a new setup was explained and we were back out practicing. I was progressing well and with each turn I was rebuilding my confidence. The tutus were brought out again for no reason other than because it’s more fun riding with men in tutus.
Four days wasn’t enough so I extended the trip with two extra days of private lessons. I worked with instructors and continued to practice. I was very happy with my progress. We discovered that I freaked out when the instructor told me they were letting go so instead the instructor would let go without any warning.
In January 2016 I returned to Myoko, Japan. This time with my Mum. Unfortunately Nikki wasn’t able to ski but Charlie was also great. I wanted to experience tethering in Japan without chickening out and Charlie was the master. I was having great progress over the four days as we practiced turns. The tutus were worn again just because we can.
Many of the Myoko crew teach at Falls Creek during the Australian winter. They had been encouraging me to ski Falls ever since my first trip to Japan. I was able to make it a reality in August 2016 and booked four days of private lessons with Charlie. We continued to work on my tethering with breaks to explore other parts of Falls Creek. It was amazing to ski again on my birthday with the whole crew wearing tutus! I fell in love with Falls and would love to return again.
Thank you Mum for pushing me because if it wasn’t for you then I probably would have never tried sit skiing. I would have never thought that I would have loved such a dangerous sport. It’s a great feeling. Keep an eye out for us and our tutus on the mountain!
Total: 30 days
Where to next?