You may, or my not have noticed, but the snow fun hasn’t finished now that the Olympics are over.
The Winter Paralympics are on, in Sochi, and the athletes taking part are not only super fit, super brave and super fab, but they are all just a little crazy too.
Which is why I am inspired to the very core of my bones by them.
(you may have read this post, which I wrote when the Paralympics were on in the Summer of 2012. I was inspired then, but the Winter Olympics are EVEN more inspiring as far as I am concerned but for different reasons)
1. The downhill skiing for the visually impaired is incredible.
I once (and only once) had to snowboard down a green trail without my specs on (I always wore contacts when I was teaching snowboarding, but for some reason, one day I had my glasses on, and they got frosted over so I had to ride without them) and it was possibly the scariest thing I’ve ever done.
It was down a trail that I had ridden hundreds of times, was wide, empty and clear and yet I was nearly crying by the time I got to the bottom.
It was sooooo hard riding without being able to see much (and seriously, even though my vision is bad, I can still see far more than your average visually impaired skier) and I felt as if I was about to come a cropper every single second.
I could sense danger everywhere (even though I couldn’t see any) and by the time I got to the bottom of the trail, I felt heart attack ready.
There is no way I will ever try sliding down a mountain without full vision ever again.
The fact that people such as Jade Etherington speed down wildly hard and steep trails, and do so with only a flash of colour ahead of them to know which way to go, is not only a lesson in bravery, but a lesson in trust too.
I can barely imagine how much trust and co-operation is involved in each and every run, but I salute, in my very finest fashion, every single person who dares to go fast, without seeing.
2. The sit skiers.
Now that’s something which again blows my mind. Not only do these athletes happily sit in a slidey chair and hurl themselves down a slope, but they also rely on their arms (their ARMS – says me, aghast, looking at my wimpy triceps) to help keep them upright on those turns.
It might not seem quite so amazing if you’ve only ever watched the pros strutting their stuff and swoshing down pulling off big turns, but the beginner slope I used to teach on at Sunday River was right next to an organisation called Maine Adaptive where people with all sorts of disabilities took to the snow. Watching sit skiers try it out for the first time was like watching the impossible and improbable (combined with a heck of a lot of effort from every single person involved) become real thanks to the determination of one snow-crazy person to get the hang of it.
And I bow, as far as my hamstrings will allow, to anyone who is brave enough to take one of those sit skis onto a wobbly chair lift and sit there, hanging above the snow, hoping that the wind isn’t going to just lift them gently off the lift and plop them down in the snow with blatant disregard for safety.
So, yes, as always, I am inspired by the Paralympics – and those folks who are hitting the snow as part of TeamGB make me want to get my board out right now.
I always brag about how I used to be a snowboard instructor, but some of the things I learned then are super useful for life in general, and for life as a nutritionist. Read why here.