KILLINGTON—Nearly 30 athletes will come together to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the nationally recognized United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) Winter Ski Festival with Vermont Adaptive Feb. 10-13 at Pico Mountain in Killington. The event is one of the largest annual gatherings in the U.S. of skiers and snowboarders who are blind or visually impaired. Vermont Adaptive has hosted the event each year since its inception at Pico Mountain.
Eight of the participants are also veterans. Athletes will be coming from Vermont, New York, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Ohio, Massachusetts, Florida, Maryland, Georgia, Virginia, and Colorado.
Vermont Adaptive, Vermont’s largest year-round disabled sports non-profit organization committed to empowering individuals with disabilities, has partnered with USABA to bring the winter festival to Pico Mountain for the past 10 years, providing trained guides, instructors and equipment for the event.
Kim Seevers, an instructor, coach, educator and director for the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA), will join the group Friday evening and Saturday to give an informal discussion about guiding and racing. She will host a race clinic for instructors and athletes Saturday afternoon. Seevers and teammate Staci Mannella represented the U.S. at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. More recently, Seevers was named coach of the PSIA-AASI Adaptive National Team.
Throughout the weekend, athletes will snowboard, Nordic ski, snowshoe, and learn and practice biathlon target shooting. Food and lodging is included, plus a celebratory dinner Saturday night with a special guest speaker.
Last year, Vermont Adaptive acquired an Eko-Aims rifle and a biathlon target with a grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The laser rifle is designed to help train athletes with visual impairments by using auditory signals to guide their aim and was a huge hit last year. Participants will learn how to use the rifle and learn more about US Paralympics biathlon competition.
Photo courtesy of USABA
Blind and visually impaired skiers get to ski at Pico Mountain with their guides, in a festival celebrating its 10th year.