An alpine festival with a difference

A snow sports festival, aimed at developing skills for adaptive athletes, started at The Remarkables skifield yesterday.

The Adaptive Snow Sports Festival had been running for about 10 years.

Its purpose is to provide a social and developmental atmosphere for both seasoned and beginner skiers, snowboarders and snow-lovers who are living with disabilities.

"The ethos of it is to get everybody together, from all around New Zealand to either learn to ski, or go ski with people ... they’ve met along the way," Snow Sports NZ adaptive snowsports manager Jane Stevens said.

The three-day event, which finishes tomorrow, included open ski and snowboard sessions from 10am, with experts on hand for pointers.

"For those that are new to the sport, [it’s about] getting up there ... with the support of other people with similar disabilities around them, and with a very dedicated and experienced instructor and volunteer crew," Ms Stevens said.

There were also skill development opportunities, and, off-mountain, meet-and-greet and social events were planned in town for festival-goers to get to know each other.

Ms Stevens said the festival was also a great opportunity for those interested in a more competitive pathway.

"Part of what we’re trying to do is provide those opportunities for people if they wish to carry on and try and become a Paralympian and, you know, when they can see and go out and have a ski with the likes of Adam Hall or Corey Peters, you know, that’s amazing."

She said para-athletes were able to share their experience on the performance pathway, and it was the ideal environment for Snow Sports NZ to inform aspiring athletes about how the organisation can help.

The festival and its supporters are trying to achieve an inclusive environment, she said.

"There are a lot of extra factors involved in that, obviously, with specialised equipment and instructor training and volunteer support that we’ve set up.

"There’s quite a lot that goes on behind the scenes, but the general ethos is that encouragement; that it should be no different for anybody to be able to access the mountains."



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