The Hartford Ski Spectacular
By Summit Voice
Athletic competition is just one aspect of the activities scheduled for physically disabled winter athletes at the upcoming 23rd annual The Hartford Ski Spectacular Dec. 5-12 at Beaver Run Resort and Breckenridge Ski Resort, Breckenridge, Colo.
Hosted by Disabled Sports USA and sponsored by The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., the founding partner of U.S. Paralympics, the event provides opportunities for participants to meet and network with other physically disabled athletes and receive training in snow sports as well as to compete in a variety of ski and snowboarding events.
The nation’s largest winter sports festival for individuals with physical disabilities will bring together more than 800 athletes with a range of skills, from first-time skiers to members of the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team. Participants include:
• Over 120 wounded warriors (some learning to ski or snowboard for the first time since their injury and some learning advanced training)
• Disabled youth and young adult racers in training for alpine, Nordic, and biathlon events and the subsequent Paralympics
• Sports organizations serving people with disabilities from throughout the USA coming to learn about the latest advanced ski teaching and race training techniques.
“This event, more than any other in the nation, provides a forum for developing relationships, friendships, exchange of information and best practices for individuals and community groups around the nation,” said Kirk Bauer, JD, executive director of DSUSA. “These relationships help improve lives and programs and last across miles and over time.” Bauer, a disabled Vietnam veteran, recently scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro with two wounded warriors who received their first sports training at The Harford Ski Spectacular.
This year’s slate of participants includes young people from around the nation with varied levels of ability and include beginner snowboarder Joe Yantz, a 21-year-old U.S. Army airborne infantryman from Sedalia, Missouri; Beginner skier Bradley Jerome Walker, a 29-year-old ex-Marine from White Pine, Tennessee; and experienced NASTAR youth skiers Kelly Allen from Kingsford, Michigan, and Andrew Kurka of Palmer, Alaska.
Wounded warrior Joe Yantz was on foot patrol in Afghanistan in June of this year when an IED (improvised explosive device) detonated as he climbed over a low wall. Injuries to his right leg were so severe that doctors amputated it above the knee. He now uses a prosthetic leg and crutches while continuing to receive daily therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Yantz hopes to rejoin his unit in Afghanistan.
Bradley Jerome Walker, also a wounded warrior, lost both of his lower legs after the Humvee he was riding in struck an IED in Iraq in November of 2006. He credits his participation in sports as being a big part of his rehabilitation. In addition to adaptive skiing, Walker also enjoys playing sitting volleyball, sitting shot put, and handcycling.
Kelly Allen has proximal femoral focal deficiency, born without a major thigh bone and missing most of her left leg. She has competed in three NASTAR/Level 1 adaptive ski races and spent four years on the Kingsford High School ski team. Kelly hopes to win a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
Andrew Kurka has partial leg paraplegia after breaking his back at age 13 in an ATV accident. Using a mono-ski, he has competed in one NASTAR/Level 1 and one NorAm/Level 2 adaptive ski race and is currently training with the Challenge Alaska Adaptive Race Team and the Alyeska Ski & Snowboard Club. Kurka hopes to win gold medals at the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia and upcoming X Games.
Classes, seminars and activities available to athletes and their families at The Hartford Ski Spectacular include:
• Nordic Ski and Biathlon Training Clinics led by Ian Lawless, Jon Kreamelmeyer (former head coach, U.S. Nordic Paralympic Team) and Rob Roffer (US Biathlon)
• Learn to Ski/Advance Your Skills Lessons for novice participants
• PSIA-AASI Continuing Education Clinics for snow sports instructors
• Mentoring Mixer where national racers will be matched with the youth and wounded warrior participants
• Opening banquet and closing event with an awards presentation
• Adapt2Achieve training seminars to help community chapters improve their program and development capabilities
Team and individual races will be held throughout the seven-day event as part of the National Race Festival sponsored by Disabled Sports USA, U.S. Paralympics, and the Diana Golden “Golden Opportunities” Fund. This event features 17 scholarship athletes from 11 states, 14 scholarship coaches, 14 military participants, 9 additional participants; and 10 elite coaches from across the country. The festival will include:
• Mid-Level, Advanced and Military Race Training Camps
• Three-day mentoring program with members of the USAST, National Sports Center for the Disabled ski teams and former Paralympians
• Level 1 Races where disabled participants take part racing against other emerging racers.
• Corporate Challenge /NASTAR race featuring teams composed of event staff, participants, sponsors, media representatives and VIPs. Each team will feature four non-disabled skiers and one disabled participant.
• Opportunity to compete in an internationally sanctioned NorAm Level II Race Sponsored by U.S. Paralympics and Disabled Sports USA directly following The Hartford Ski Spectacular
Programs offered at The Hartford Ski Spectacular help to strengthen and expand adaptive ski programs in communities throughout the USA; identify and train youth, wounded warriors, and others with disabilities who strive to be winter Paralympians; and help local DSUSA chapters improve their services. A week of ski race training, sponsored by U.S. Paralympics, prepares athletes for the 2011 U.S. Disabled Alpine Ski Championships in Alyeska, Alaska, the 2011 World Championships in Sestriere, Italy, and 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The ski instructor academy endorsed by Professional Ski Instructors of America-American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI) offers training for instructors in the latest and safest adaptive ski techniques for skiers with disabilities. “Learn to” programs in alpine and Nordic skiing, biathlon, and snowboarding are also offered. Chapter training programs in administration, fundraising, social networking, and volunteer training round out the agenda.
The Hartford Ski Spectacular is sponsored by The Hartford. Additional sponsors include U.S. Paralympics, a national partner of DSUSA; Challenged Athletes Foundation; Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center; Breckenridge Ski Resort; Wounded Warrior Project; Professional Ski Instructors of America/American Association of Snowboard Instructors; United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs; Team Semper Fi; United States Biathlon; Breckenridge Sports; DSUSA host chapter Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center; and supporting chapters National Sports Center for the Disabled, STRIDE Adaptive Sports, New England Disabled Sports, AbilityPlus, Inc., Adaptive Adventures, and National Ability Center.
Follow the action at The Hartford Ski Spectacular on Twitter and Facebook. Look for @DisabledSportUS and #skispec on Twitter and Disabled Sports USA on Facebook, as well as @TheHartford on Twitter and Facebook.
About Disabled Sports USA
Founded in 1967 by disabled Vietnam veterans, Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA) provides opportunities for youth, wounded warriors, and others with disabilities to rebuild their lives through sports, recreation and educational programs. DSUSA is a national multi-sport, multi-disability organization serving more than 60,000 youth and adults annually. A member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, DSUSA offers programs through its nationwide network of more than 100 community-based chapters operating in 37 states. For schedules and additional information, visit http://www.dsusa.org or call (301) 217-9840. DSUSA is a member of the Combined Federal Campaign: 10151.
About The Hartford
Celebrating 200 years of helping its customers achieve what’s ahead, The Hartford (NYSE: HIG) is an insurance and wealth management company. Through its unique focus on customer needs, the company serves businesses and consumers by providing the products and solutions they need to protect their assets and income from risks and manage their wealth and retirement needs. A Fortune 100 company, The Hartford is recognized widely for its service expertise and as one of the world’s most ethical companies. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at http://www.thehartford.com.
About U.S. Paralympics
U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympics Committee, is dedicated to becoming the world leader in the Paralympic sports movement and promoting excellence in the lives of people with disabilities. Since its formation in 2001, U.S. Paralympics has been inspiring Americans to achieve their dreams. Through education, sports programs and partnerships with community organizations, medical facilities and government agencies, U.S. Paralympics is making a difference in the lives of thousands of physically disabled people every day. Visit www.usparalympics.org.
Filed under: Breckenridge, Summit County Colorado Tagged: | Breckenridge ski resort, Disabled Sports USA, Hartford Ski Spectacular Breckenridge, National Sports Center, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Wounded Warriors