3 May 2024 

On Tuesday 30 April twelve people with physically disabilities took part in a Learn To Ski Day at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. The free event was organised by the national charity for wheelchair sport, WheelPower and supported by the coaches and volunteers from Disability Snowsport UK. For many this was the first time on snow, and during the day they were all able to try sit skiing using both mono and bi-skis.

After the success of this event in 2023 WheelPower was delighted to return this year and provide this exciting opportunity to a new group of participants. The smiles on the day said all you needed to know about the impact of this event and it is hoped that many who attended will continue to enjoy the freedom and benefits of skiing in the future.

One of those who attended was Tom who was looking forward to getting back on the snow following a life changing spinal injury. He said, “I snowboarded before my accident and always loved being on the slopes. So given the chance to get back out there, I was like absolutely, sign me up! It’s been very challenging don’t get me wrong, but you quickly realise what makes you fall over, and I’ve definitely improved as the session went on. It’s been an amazing experience and I’d love to give it another go in the future.”

learn to ski with wheelpower

Kate from Oxford, who has a single leg amputation, hadn’t been on the slopes for over 20 years. Although she was nervous and unsure what to expect she thoroughly enjoyed her day on the snow with WheelPower. “With a disability it’s important to challenge myself all the time, and take myself out of my comfort zone. I was nervous but when you get out on the snow and you turn into a kid again, and I have really enjoyed it. I would like to come back again and consolidate what I’ve learnt. Big thanks to WheelPower for giving us opportunities. For being ambitious with us. For identifying the importance of fitness and sport to people who have mobility challenges.”

Sandra travelled from Norwich to take part in this exciting new event. She told us why she was so happy about being back on the snow again: “Skiing was always one of my passions and it was the one sport I really wanted to get back to. I have to say I got a bit emotional and I just loved it. Being able to ski on my own and independently was really exciting, and it’s the first time I’ve done something fun for a long time.”

Richard only booked his place on the event the day before and was incredibly grateful of the opportunity to try something completely new. “I was a little bit apprehensive beforehand, but that was more about the logistics of getting around once you are in the sit ski itself. But once out there I have to say the experience was fantastic. I don’t know what I was expecting to get out of today but as we got further up the slope and feeling in control all the way down was a really good feeling. Thank you so much to WheelPower, it was an amazing experience and without it I would have carried on being a hermit indoors! So its definitely been a kick in the right direction to start doing something.”

learn to ski with wheelpower

The Learn To Ski event was organised by the charity WheelPower. Reflecting on the day on the slopes WheelPower Sports Events and Development Officer Conor Harris said, “It was fantastic to see so many smiles and happiness from all the participants who joined us in Hemel Hempstead. The Learn To events from WheelPower are about introducing, or reintroducing disabled people to a variety of sports and we have no doubt that we will be seeing many of those from today back on the snow again in the near future. We are delighted to be able to deliver these opportunities but we couldn’t do it without the support, advice and enthusiasm of the amazing coaches and volunteers from Disability Snowsport UK. Thank you to everyone who made this life changing opportunity a reality and we look forward to returning to the slopes soon!”  

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The Learn to Ski with WheelPower event is one of many exciting new opportunities that the charity is delivering in 2024, including Learn to Handcycle and Golf days in various locations across the United Kingdom. The events are open to complete beginners, or those looking to have another try with the hope they may continue to enjoy the sport following this initial introduction.

Learn To Play Golf – 15 May

Learn to Handcycle – 8 June