Old 03-18-2017, 10:37 PM #1 (permalink)
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Default Skiing at Vail

I have had the wonderful opportunity to go skiing 4 times this season. The second time, which was on February 14 (or Valentine's Day), was really special. My wife accompanied me, of course.

The ski instructors were Jim (tethered to the biski) and Amanda (controlled traffic, configured the biski for loading on the lift, and assisted in lifting the biski and me onto the ski lift's chair.

We were joined by Franz, who is also an adaptive instructor, but was just skiing with us for fun that day. Franz is also a professional photographer and managed to shoot a wonderful video of our last run of the day.

The video is over 5 minutes long. I hope that you can share it with others so they can be inspired to do crazy things, despite some physical limitations. You will notice I ride in the biski like a sack of potatoes at times. But, I am still able to initiate turns. Those turns are absolutely wonderful to experience.

We have become friends with Jim, Amanda, and Franz over the last 2 years. They are dedicated professionals with the adaptive ski program and absolutely wonderful human beings.

The video shows us skiing from the top of Vail to the bottom. The route we took was from the top of Ledges to Lodgepole to Columbine to International to Bear Tree and then to Windish Way.

It was a beautiful day and the snow was in great shape. I had a blast and got some wind in my face.

I hope you enjoy the video as much as I do. Here is the link.

Zenfolio | Steven A. Walker | Biski

Steve
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Old 03-18-2017, 11:17 PM #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Skiing at Vail

Wow! Thanks for sharing. You are an inspiration!
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Old 03-19-2017, 03:18 AM #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Skiing at Vail

Oh Steve I was riveted for every second of that video! I just love it, and to think they get to film it and everything and you can share it and relive it!


WOW AND WOW
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Old 03-19-2017, 09:06 AM #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Skiing at Vail

Thank you so much for taking us on your journey. I will definitely share it.
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Old 03-19-2017, 09:22 AM #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Skiing at Vail

Steve, I am so glad that you are still skiing!!! We are headed to Jackson Hole in May to meet up with Matt's hunting buddy who is a taxidermist for the Boy Scout antler auction. I hope we are able to push on to California to see my family after Wyoming. We've traded up from the Honda van to a Ram ProMaster so that Matt can stretch out and I can stand up to tend him. I'm hoping to keeps us traveling a bit longer.
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Old 03-19-2017, 06:57 PM #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Skiing at Vail

Thanks for all the feedback. It helps keep me going when the going is harder.

Nuts, I had noticed you and Matt had upgraded to the ProMaster van. We have been considering a larger van as well (Sprinter, Transit, or ProMaster). We will be in Yellowstone starting in mid May. It would be great to meet up, but it is a long drive from where we will be to Jackson.

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Old 03-19-2017, 07:29 PM #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Skiing at Vail

Steve, we'd love to meet up. How long is long? I'll PM you!
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Old 03-19-2017, 08:05 PM #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Skiing at Vail

How wonderful Steve! What a testament to the human spirit... yours specifically! Thank you so much for sharing this, it brought me such joy and hope. Kate
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Old 03-19-2017, 08:08 PM #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Skiing at Vail

I forgot to mention that while my wife was skiing with us, she does not appear in the video. She could not keep up with us.

We were really moving, probably doing close to 50 miles per hour for part of the video. I think there are some serious advantages to being just a bit crazy.

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Old 03-19-2017, 11:38 PM #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Skiing at Vail

Wow Steve that was stupendous! I got butterflies in my stomach a few times with some of those tight turns. Did you ever get scared? The rate of speed seemed very fast on occasion, and there seemed to be a couple of dozy people on the run who didn't get out your way pronto. Does your brakeman/steerer shout out to you to lean to one direction or another, or do you just stay on your toes so to speak and do it because of your background with skiing? It was so beautiful and you are magnificent and brave.
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Old 03-19-2017, 11:40 PM #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Skiing at Vail

Wow I'm glad you put a speed on that because that really is some serious skiing!

I've said before that I've never even seen snow in my life, so I can't tell you how much I love your biski footage! I'm so glad you are a little crazy
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Old 03-19-2017, 11:45 PM #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Skiing at Vail

Wow Steve! What an amazing video. You truly are such an inspiration to many.
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Old 03-20-2017, 01:08 AM #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Skiing at Vail

Tillie, I wish I could transport you here and take your skiing. With your love of the natural world I am sure you would take to it in an instant.

Laurel, I will attempt to answer a few of your questions.

Jim was the instructor holding onto the tethers. Typically, the person in the biski is just along for the ride and the instructor does most or all of the steering. And the speeds are typically far slower than the speeds Jim and I attain.

I have been skiing at Vail for over 30 years and know most of the runs very, very well (as in every undulation). When I was able to ski on regular skis, I would often ski very fast when there was nobody else on the run. The fastest I have clocked myself using a GPS device is 93 miles per hour. Now, I don't really think I was going that fast, but I am sure I was going over 80 miles per hour. Let's just say I like to feel the wind in my face. So, I know the mountain well and am a very experienced skier (though I was far from an expert).

Jim and I have been doing the biski thing for 3 seasons now. In that time we have developed a deep level of mutual trust. I trust him to keep me out of trouble and he trusts me to make good decisions about where to point the biski.

For example, I sit pretty low in the biski and cannot see over a lip in the terrain. I watch to see who might have skied in that direction, but if someone is just hanging out there I won't know about it. Because Jim is standing, he can see much better over those lips. Jim can override me at any time, but rarely needs to.

So, to answer one of your questions, I do just about all the steering by initiating a turn by leaning my body in the direction I want to go. There is a finesse (but not much strength) necessary to do this, and as I tire my turns get pretty sloppy. I can only do about 6 runs in a day and it has been taking 2 weeks to recover from a ski session. Going from top to bottom as in the video counts as two runs. The video was of the last runs of the day. Jim does occasionally shout out a direction to turn and I simply lean in that direction.

Jim does all the braking. I cannot hold the outriggers (little skies on the side to help keep me upright), so I have to use fixed outriggers (meaning they are physically mounted to the biski). The drawback of fixed outriggers is that I am unable to rotate the biski and put it into a skid to slow down. Thus, I must rely on Jim to slow me down and to stop me. That is where the trust comes in. It is quite a commitment to trust someone's ability to slow us both down when we are hurtling down the slopes at those speeds.

I never get butterflies when out with Jim and don't get scared. On the contrary, when things get exciting I usually giggle and laugh as hard as my breathing muscles will allow. It really is a wonderful and freeing experience to be gliding over snow with the wind in my face. I get particularly giddy when we catch a bit of air. We have to be careful about that though, because biskis have been known to explode when landing after a jump.

You are right that the speeds seem a bit fast. That is on purpose. And, we passed just about all but 1 skier on the way down. The slowpokes in front of us have the right of way and it is our responsibility to avoid them. We do so, but I can only imagine the expressions on their faces as we pass them.

I think it is especially motivating when we zoom by folks who are stopped at the top of a steep pitch getting up their nerve to ski down it. We did that on Friday to a ski school class. I sure hope it inspired them as I was once inspired when as a beginner skier I was passed at a high rate of speed by a guy with one leg.

I am blessed to be able to live in such a beautiful place and partake in such wonderful activities.

Vail's adaptive ski program is truly world class and I owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude. I encourage anyone who has the remotest interest in trying out the biski to contact them. And remember, you don't have to know anything about skiing and you would be very unlikely to go as fast as Jim and I go.

Steve
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Old 03-20-2017, 02:22 AM #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Skiing at Vail

I would surely love to be on one of those runs with you! Still what I love is that I can kind of go along with you. The person doing the video does a wonderful job, as one has to remember they are moving on skis at the same time, and at those speeds!

I love the fact that not only do you get this amazing freedom and adventure, but you are brightening the day of so many PALS and CALS by having video to share.

Thank you so much for taking us with you. I love the story and explanation too.

It is kind of like being a motorbike pillion (yeah I know more like being in a side car by in front) from the view of you need to both trust each other. I love being on a bike with someone I trust, so I get the feeling of the wind and the motion and the leaning into the corners and all. I just had to watch the video again
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Old 03-20-2017, 11:51 AM #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Skiing at Vail

Steve thanks for the explanation. I think in a nutshell you are an expert (and love the thrill of speed and beautiful terrain). That is a wonderful skill to have. Thank you for the wonderful video.

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