Sunday, December 12, 2010

New technologies gets more disabled skiers on the slopes

From 9NEWS in Colo.:

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. - Thanks to some bright minds, technology similar to what powers your computer at home or work is helping people with disabilities ski or snowboard.

Several hundred disabled skiers, including more than 150 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, came from all over the world to take part in this week's 23rd Annual Hartford Ski Spectacular in Breckenridge. The gadgets they're using were not even conceivable just a short time ago-like a computerized prosthetic limb.

"I'm an amputee. I work in a slow-motion world. All of a sudden I get to the top of a mountain; I can go 30, 40, 50 miles an hour down the slopes," said Kirk Bauer, the executive director of Disabled Sports USA. "It is the most exhilarating feeling and free feeling in the world."

Bauer lost his leg in Vietnam. He told 9NEWS he couldn't imagine running a marathon until recently because technology now allows for that.

This is one of the few times each year that people can see some of the latest developments in snow sports in one place.

"Participants are going to see the latest adaptive equipment that can be utilized with people with disabilities to do snow sports," Bauer said. "It's also going to provide training and instruction for instructors from all over the country. So they can know how to best teach people with disabilities."

Many people with disabilities are trying out skiing or snowboarding for the first time.

"We want to provide every opportunity with people with disabilities to get them involved in sports," Bauer said. "In order to do that, they have to have adaptive equipment. People have to know how to teach them so they can get up and do these things."

The Hartford Ski Spectacular is sponsored by the Hartford Insurance Company, which also helped start the US Paralympics.