We’d like to welcome Jennifer Jones, a new adaptive athlete to our Green Mountain Adaptive Sports family. Jack Clark, GMAS’s interviewer extraordinaire had the opportunity to sit down with Jennifer on Zoom and learn about how she’s accomplishing her dream and new found joy of skiing. Here’s Jack’s report.
Jack: Is this your first experience in learning how to ski on the slopes?
Jennifer: No, it actually isn’t. I actually learned last season with Vermont Adaptive at Bolton Valley. This is my first time at Stowe. I’ve never been before. BIG mountain! BIG difference!
Jack: What adaptive equipment do you use?
Jennifer: I use two types of equipment. I wear a special back brace. It’s a back protector made by Sweet Protections. I also wear an orange vest that says “Visually Impaired” so people stay away from me and give me room to ski. I can’t really look behind me or turn because of my spine.
Jack: How do the GMAS volunteers assist you?
Jennifer: The volunteers from GMAS are really wonderful and helpful. Someone skis in front of me and someone behind me. The skier in front of me I can follow. If I don’t follow someone I have trouble and I snow plow all the time and I’m not sure where to go. The skier behind me keeps people away from me and instructs me to slow down or when I need to turn. The volunteers also help me get on and off the chairlift, because I’m really slow to sit and I need help to get up.
Jack: Can you describe your joy when you’re skiing down a slope?
Jennifer: FREEDOM! INDEPENDENCE! EXHILARATION! It’s just like the best feeling in the world coming down the mountain by yourself feeling free, it’s just awesome!
Jack: Do you have any special ski goals or any specific ski trails you’d love to make your mark on?
Jennifer: I would like to ski blue terrain with more confidence. I would like to get on the gondola and ski down Gondolier. That would be a huge goal for me.
Jack: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Jennifer: I would have to say learning how to ski. That is something in my wildest dreams I never thought I’d do, ever. My husband is a skier and every time we vacationed in Vermont I would go along and just hang out at the lodge and watch everybody and think, gosh, I just wish I could do that! They made it look so easy, so flowing and why can’t I do this?
I was at Killington one time and saw an adaptive monoskier and a blind skier for the first time and I thought if they can do it, I can do it! They made it look so easy, so flowing and why can’t I do this?
Jack: What has your experience been like working with Green Mountain Adaptive Sports?
Jennifer: Oh, they’ve been wonderful! They are such good helpers. They are very patient with me, they don’t rush me or make me do something I am not comfortable with. They give me lots of great tips. Yesterday they were showing me how to pole plant and side slip which I’d never done before. That was very fun to do. They’ve been so good and it’s been a very positive experience with them.
Jack: I hear you have a special companion, your Yellow Labrador Cooper. Any other adaptive sports you’d like to try with his assistance?
Jennifer: Maybe I’d like to try swimming. That’s something I can’t really do by myself. Cooper likes the water and that’s something I think I’d like to try to do in the summer is go swimming with him.
Thank you so much Jennifer. You remind us a dream is always possible with courage, determination and help from some friends. See ya on the slopes!
About Jack Clark: Jack is a Stowe resident who has been a Green Mountain Adaptive Sports Ski and Ride Scholarship recipient for close to ten years. He has been, and continues to be GMAS’s poster boy, and generously shares his writing talent with GMAS by writing this column. When not skiing or watching sports, Jack works at the Alchemist Brewery as their Alchemist Reporter.