By Connie Lawn and Charles Sneiderman
Sunshine, great snow, mild temperatures, and good friends -- what could be better than this day at Liberty Mountain Resort! All this about an hour and a half from Washington, DC -- close to Gettysburg (no ghosts of Lincoln, but lots of reminders of the historic section of the country).
On Saturday, most of the trails and lifts were open, and the trails were well covered with machine-made snow. It was hard packed, but well groomed, with no ice. I cannot feel the difference, unless we are blessed with light, fluffy powder. But I am just grateful it was cold enough to make snow. I could bend down and kiss the skis of those who invented snow making machines!
There was a festive atmosphere on the mountain. Everyone seemed happy and excited. Liberty often includes a number of activities to add to the enjoyment. They have live music all season, and Saturday they were decorating some guests like snowmen. It is also fun to ski or ride with the large costumed snow tigers and other "animals." No famous snow boarding possum Saturday, but it has a seasoned pass and may reappear later.
In addition to enjoying traditional skiing, Charles and I have become volunteers with the Liberty Adaptive ski program. It is an outgrowth of our interest in helping wounded warriors, which we have done for nearly 10 years. Charles can help more than I can, since he is a doctor and a stronger skier. But I try to help out with other disabled skiers. We form our own special club. I am with them now too, since I have Parkinson's disease. Thankfully, I can still ski, as I have for 50 years. But I am nervous, and have trouble getting off the lift. It is nice to be able to ask the lift operators to slow it down (as they do) and they help me slide off the lift. It is much more difficult to get on and off a lift when you have special equipment, or are blind or missing a limb.
Charles tried more of the equipment and trails than I, so he takes over now:
I have been seated in a sit ski before, but never had the experience of taking a run in one. Blue Ridge Adaptive Snow Sports (BRASS) has three adult size bi-skis which are most often used for students with conditions which make standing on skis or snowboard impractical. Bi-skis have two standard skis clamped in a fixed position under the frame about a foot apart and a bucket seat above. Turns must be initiated by leaning the body to the side in the direction of the turn and maintaining balance with outrigger skis. They are either fixed to the frame or on short poles carried by the rider who grips them with hands or forearms and presses them on the snow to assist in turns and drags them for breaking. Accomplished sit skiers can raise the frame to get onto a chair lift unassisted; I had an instructor on either side to lift me onto the chair and one of them held tethers on the rear of the frame to assist the turns. I did not tip over but I did wobble quite a bit initially. I have a sense of balance so I was able to compensate with the outriggers, but I never realized how much I depend on strength from the waist down. I only attempted a beginner trail, but I now have much greater appreciation for the experience from the seated perspective.