Before Veterans hit the slopes at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic (NDVWSC) in Snowmass, Colorado, behind the scenes, staff, volunteers and instructors prepare for the participants’ first runs on the mountain. Co-hosted by Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the clinic is celebrating its 36th year as a world-leader in adaptive winter sports instruction.
For 25 of those years, Jeff Inouye, the adaptive ski program director for Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, in Breckenridge, Colorado, has volunteered his time at the clinic offering his expertise to those working with Veterans. Inouye’s workshop introduces participants to the benefits and limitations of the different types of adaptive ski equipment offers participants insights to the newest adaptive sports apparatus while offering suggestions on use.
“I just want to pass on knowledge,” Inouye said, after answering volunteers’ questions regarding body positioning, appropriate equipment for different levels of injury and types of seating. “I like to address safety and risk concerns, especially for newer instructors who haven’t had the resources to be able to make recommendations.”
Two of the Inouye’s workshop participants, Navy Veteran Tony Cole, and his wife Lynne Cole, have been volunteering at WSC as ski instructors for the past 13 years, saying it was their “favorite week of the year.” The Coles’ also volunteer for Maine Adaptative, a program in their home state.
“We are very grateful to get this information and fascinated by the education about the equipment,” Lynne Cole said.
With injuries ranging from traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputations and visual impairments, the 130 disabled participating Veterans use a wide range of adaptive equipment. The information Inouye shares assists with rehabilitation and helps to improve function and independence so they can participate in sport and fitness, which often reduces the risk of secondary medical complications.
The event will run through Friday, April 1. For information, go to www.wintersportsclinic.org