From 7-14 December, the 21st Annual Hartford Ski Spectacular took place in Breckenridge, Colorado, staging one of the USA’s largest winter sports festivals for people with a disability.
Paralympians Allison Jones and Stephani Victor from USA took the top position in the Slalom event. Jones led in the standing women’s division, and Victor was first in the sitting women’s field. This had been Victor’s first race back after an injury that kept her out of competition in 2008. Both women also took the gold medal in their respective events at the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games.
In the men’s division, Adam Hall from New Zealand took first in the standing competition and Carl Burnett from USA held the top position in the sitting division. Both men competed in their respective events at the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games.
Athletes who competed in the various events also saw the opportunity as preparation for the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. And as it was one of the largest festivals in the country for people with a disability, many spectators were able to cheer on their favourite athlete and sport.
The Hartford Ski Spectacular however did not only include such strong races from Paralympians, but also had other activities that brought in people from all walks of life. It was an opportunity for those who attended to learn about the sports and how athletes with a disability really compete.
The participants were of all ages and were encouraged to enjoy winter sports which had been made accessible by adaptive equipment, as well as lessons from seasoned professionals and skilled volunteers. Some of the activities available for registration were the Professional Ski Instructors of American (PSIA)/American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) National Adaptive Continuing Education Academy, Advance Your Nordic Skills, Level II Slalom/Giant Slalom Races, Corporate Challenge Race, a sport mentoring clinic, and many others.