Adapting to ski again: A BIST member’s story

Think skiing requires you to have both feet on the ground? Think again. In the first of two winter-activity themed stories by BIST members living with the affects of acquired brain injury, Leslie Bolt shares how she stays active with sit-skiing. A paralympic event, adaptive or sit-skiing allows people with acquired brain injury and others with disabilities to enjoy the slopes.

Leslie Bolt sit-skiing in Breckenridge, Colorado, 2003. Photo courtesy Leslie Bolt.
Leslie Bolt sit-skiing in Maine, March, 2011. Photo courtesy Leslie Bolt.


I admit it, though I had practiced in rehab, when I was fitted in my sit-ski “Mountainman,” loaded on the chairlift and sandwiched between my husband and an adaptive instructor, I was very, very nervous, but excited too.

I had spent weeks and months in hospital and even more time in rehab and while I had been making gains in finding my balance and stability, I had to wonder what in the world was I doing creeping up the Colorado Mountain Range strapped to a chair mounted on two skis? Had I lost my mind? I had been pretty much living indoors and practising taking steps; slow and focused steps. Now, here I was, about to ski.

At the top, we unload and make a turn down the off-load ramp and with my instructors behind me, down we go.

‘Lean into the slope, turn the ski, look downhill, feel the grade switch, weight shift, find your centre, look downhill, repeat, breathe. Don’t forget to breathe.’

I look around at the beautiful Colorado Mountain Range and see Paul, Rob and Charlotte down at the crest of the next overpass. I ski down the next pass, rejoicing in the cold mountain air biting my cheeks, the snow spray stinging my neck.

At the bottom, I smile at my friends and as I catch my breath I happily receive their compliments: “Good for you Les! You were really ripping it up.”

See Leslie carving up the slopes in 2010 at Copper Mountain, Colorado.

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