Tag Archives: where to ski for kids with disabilities

Adaptive ski program at Fernie

Bennett has made great progress on the slopes this year. We’ve gotten him out a lot more and he ditched his edgie-wedgie in January, but he’s also made strides (or, turns) with F.I.R.E, the Fernie Adaptive Ski Program.

Every Sunday when we’re in Fernie, Bennett gets a two-hour ski lesson with two certified instructors, for just $20. It’s an amazing, affordable opportunity and I’m thrilled I discovered the program, which was started in 2011 by local sit-skier Grace Brulotte (who was just 14 at the time!).

Bennett snowplows down a green run at Fernie Alpine Resort.

Bennett snowplows down a green run at Fernie Alpine Resort.

The program allows kids and adults with differing abilities to learn and enjoy skiing. Instructors adapt their teaching techniques to meet the special needs of the students. In Bennett’s case, this means being extra patient and encouraging, and repeating the information a lot.

During his first lesson back in January, Bennett was very quiet with Scott and Jacob, his volunteer instructors, but by lesson number four in mid-February he was talking a lot more. He had also progressed from the Mighty Moose poma lift to the Deer Chair for a much longer beginner run (again, with no edgie-wedgie, which is huge for him).

Volunteer instructors tk and tk halp Bennett ski to the chairlift.

Volunteer instructors ScottĀ and Jacob help Bennett ski to the chairlift.

Prior to finding out about this program, I was resigned to trying to teach Bennett myself. He can’t join a regular lesson because he needs so much one-on-one help with everything from clicking into his skis to zipping up his jacket to loading the chairlift. And we certainly couldn’t afford private lessons, which start at $219 for a two-hour lesson. So when I saw the link to the adaptive program on Fernie’s website, I was hopeful.

It turns out many ski resorts in B.C. and Alberta offer adaptive ski programs. In B.C., they are available at most big resorts, from Panorama to Whistler, and to take advantage at your hill of choice you just have to buy a $45 membership with BC Adaptive Snowsports. In Alberta, they are available at Canada Olympic Park, Sunshine Village and Marmot Basin.

For us, this is huge — I only wish I had heard about Fernie’s program two years ago! But that’s okay, we know about it now and look forward to getting Bennett out on the slopes again this weekend.