Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Debra Canada Approves Sit Ski

Been a while friends.

A new chapter has finally arrived!
Debra Canada has approved and funded Raquel to recieve a sit ski and become a Debra Canada EB Ambassador for the year.

Getting Raquel to ski with the family has been ever present for years.  It's been simply the cost and the risk of disaster that has kept me from going too far with this idea.  At the end of last ski season we were fortunate enough to get some hard hours volunteered to us by some wonderful people at Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports VASS.

Heather chatting with Raquel at VASS prior to her first run ever

We had a quick few runs up Grouse (photo above) then a morning session on Mount Seymour with Mark, then two full days at Sun Peaks.  The Sun Peaks trip was quite special as it was during Cordelia's last U12 racing experience within the Nancy Greene Festival.  A very special trip for us as a family as Renata and I were engaged on a trip to Sun Peaks so many years ago.  Oh, the time doesn't hold on for anything, I'm not complaining.  It's just that the little cute skier (Coco) is pushing at her dad's abilities.  The only thing I have on her at this point is inertia and the ability to ski in powder.

Still from Coco's tie breaking run and win of the Tyee Cup
Once up at Sun Peaks we were able to have the first family ski experience of Raquel's life!  We were able to crisscross the mountain following Coco and several of her events.  It was pretty special listening to Raquel cheer from the mountain side.  The pride and admiration Raquel has for her big sister was clear to all.
I can't say enough of John to work so hard to see this happen for us.  It definitely let me see without a doubt we had to find a way to owning a ski for Raquel.   

Simply, skiing is a very expensive sport and something we save and scrounge for the year so that we can enjoy once the snow falls.  Having both a little racer and a disabled skier in the family is just past affordability for us and something had to suffer.  Considering Cordelia is so successful with her racing, it was impossible to think of pulling her from racing just yet.  The Grouse Tyee program for her has so many valuable aspects that it has extended to the whole family and it's become very central to what we do through-out the year. 

Above photo - Ren, John (VASS), Raquel, Clown, me, Alec, coach Tamara
Cordelia was just out of shot.  She refused to be in front of camera with clown while her soon to be teen buddies were watching.  I was with her in the fear of clowns, but sucked it up for the TEAM!

Above Photo- John, Raquel, Cordelia

After the last day after racing was over, we headed out without Ren, as she had to clean the cabin. Raqu was out of her mind, as we played in the powder and watched her sister jump off cliffs from the roads.  Coco and I certainly also enjoyed swooping back and forth across the runs playing with John and Raquel that vacant groomed runs and powder stashes afford!


The giggles were special as you can hear in video.  After this day, I knew without a shadow of a doubt, this was for us and going through the pros and cons I also knew the sit ski would be used and we should seek the generosity of Debra to help us out.

Poor John though.  I desperately wanted to 'thumb' Raquel (term for guiding biski) and due to potential legal reasons it wasn't the best of ideas until I had full guide certification.  But after two full days John started to show the burn and wear of very intensive run choices and lap speed.  On our last few kms to the bottom I could tell he was at his limit and asked one last time to get a quick turn and 'thumb' Raquel.

Of course anyone who knows me, even in the 500 Meters of run allotment I can still find a way to make life exciting for all.

The first few turns were awkward yet safe and then we settled into a few more decent turns with a little rhythm while John blocked and advised from behind.  Raquel like with John leaned into each turn almost taking full charge of the ski but for some light weight adjustment by me to even out her arcs.  However, as the run started to flatten out and the end came close I saw two large arcs where we could open it up some with a deep cross run GS turns and one final deep carve back up against the fall line where the run merged with another and do the hand over.


On the bottom of the last arc we came very close to the bottom side of the run.  As it is with kids runs, there are many jumps and bumps that the thousands of them cut away at and the groomers miss.
I didn't exactly see the divot or it's depth till the split second before we upon it.  I'm not sure if it was a lighting thing or just me not paying attention or looking ahead for the best line. We had picked up speed and were definitely going fast for a flat run, but not for one with moguls or bumps.

There was just enough time to panic and either do two things - carve deep and get above it, but with a decent probability of risk that I'd clip the bump with my downhill ski or worse the outside ski of the biski and crumple after a spectacular crash with mangled body parts and machinery or hold the line and brace for air time.
Since my skill at thumbing was minimal but for running a sac of sand down the green runs of Mt. Seymour for a few hours, I decided to get level and prepare for Full Send and get SAF.

At the moment the handle bars went from just below my waist to my chest and Raquel in her seat completely airborne, my eyesight went to straight ahead and an Adaptive ski guide from Sun Peaks skiing by with open mouth.  It was exactly the ski jacket I'd hoped to avoid in my few moments at thumbing.

The sound of Raquel screams and the sit ski crashing to the ground, will be something I'll likely not forget. The tired suspension bottomed out and the scissor mechanism clacked at max bottom with that metallic crunch mostly associated with car crashes. Surprisingly after a split second we were still skiing and there weren't any parts flying off, tangling my skis as I anxiously straddling the machine to a stop finishing my turn up and across the run.   At that moment the Guide and Raquel let out Whoops.  His (likely) of amazement that someone would have even tried a jump with a kid in a sit ski (hahaha, imagine if he knew she had RDEB?) and Raquel's of pure pleasure behind he physics of momentary weightlessness, speed and danger!

John skied up with a stern look in his eye and suggested rather flatly that that wouldn't have been his choice of line.

Then adding frankly that he should finish the ski to the bottom with Raquel.

Yeah, I was OK with that.....

But, what fun!  Raquel is totally my equal for adventure that is clear!!!

Our family is already looking forward to next year.  Many of the ski hills have amazing Adaptive rates for Caregivers and will make this a very good season coming!

Recent horse ride
Last days of cabin for summer 2017