This is my story. I started “normal” skiing in about 2004 rather late in life aged 40. My children had started learning at the old Hemel dry slope and I thought I’d better learn as well. In 2005 I was diagnosed with MS and lost the sight in one eye. Over the next few years as the MS progressed I found it harder and harder to ski, with a lack of balance, reduced mobility and increasing fatigue. I persevered and went on holiday with the ladies group from the now Hemel snow centre. Unfortunately I had an argument with gravity and fell breaking my leg in 3 places. Once mended I started again this time as a four track skier and had my first lessons with DSUK.
MS fatigue meant I could only ski for about 10 minutes at a time and the snow centre used to put a chair at the top of the slope for me. Holidays with my brother and children consisted of doing one run then resting for an hour or so in a café or similar before doing another run to lunch and then one more in the afternoon, – not a lot of skiing each day.
I happened to be at the snow centre having a coffee one weekend in 2018 when DSUK were having a promotion day and doing “have a go sessions” in the bi ski. (I’m lucky and only live a few miles from the snow centre) I said I’d never sit ski as it felt like giving in. However I did have a go and loved it. James from DSUK introduced me to Alysha and her partner Glyn who were at the snow centre that day and Alysha convinced me sit skiing was the way to go.
Many lessons later by a very patient James and I had graduated to the mono ski. I had a week in La Plagne with my family and friends in 2019 where I had lessons in a mono ski my son passed his Tessier piloting course.
What was amazing was that I could ski all day. There was no more doing one run and then sitting reading a book for a couple of hours pretending I didn’t mind being left behind whilst I waited for my body to recover and everyone else continued skiing. I could be with the rest of the skiing group the whole time.
With my son David on the driving bar I could go anywhere they did, and practice my own skiing skills on any easy bits.
Later that year I retired from the NHS due to ill health. Learning to sit ski is an amazing journey – a terrifying and exhilarating challenge – a roller coaster of emotions, frustration, crashes, bruises, but such highs as well.
I wanted more of it so I used my pension pay out, and a grant from the amazing Ciao foundation to buy my own dual ski and am continuing to learn to sit ski.
Who needs money to live on when you can ski!!! I still need assistance to ski, but am getting very close to be independent. I will always need some help due to the MS fatigue but this is fine as I can just be piloted when needed. I go to the DSUK local group at Hemel (and have somehow ended up on the committee!) and have met many wonderful people in this group – skiers and helpers.
Unfortunately Covid 19 meant no skiing this year – but I’m counting down the days to next season. Meanwhile I am working hard on my fitness so that I can ski to the best of my ability once we are able to get on the snow again.