Colorado Veterans’ Experience Winter Paralympic Sports in the Mountains

Granby, Colo. – Jan 17, 2013 – The National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) hosted 35 Colorado veteran recreational athletes in the first ever NSCD Paralympic Experience for veterans on January 14 at Snow Mountain Ranch near Granby, Colo.
The special event included five sports: cross-country skiing, Nordic biathalon, curling, sled hockey and snowshoeing (not a Paralympic sport). NSCD welcomed over 60 participants and staff from the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System and the Colorado Springs Wounded Warrior Project.
The NSCD developed this event because they wanted to engage military veterans to continue sports and recreation as part of their lifestyle, in addition to rehab and recovery.
“We want to provide opportunities for veterans to try Paralympic sports,” said Becky Zimmermann, president and CEO of NSCD. “We have several successful veterans in our competition and recreational programs from alpine and snowboard to cross-country and Nordic biathlon.”
Crystal A. Black, MS, CTRS, a Recreational Therapist from the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System is enthusiastic about the partnership and tells us “the goal of this partnership is to allow veterans to engage in adaptive sports while focusing on their abilities and the benefits of sport. Eastern Colorado Healthcare System’s Adaptive Sports Programs are excited to expand veteran’s opportunities to participate in programs like these that promote year-long health and wellness within his/her home community.”
Army veteran, Dave Hosick, a Denver VA Medical patient since 1987, said, “This has been one of my favorite experiences. I was exposed to many new sports and I was surprised to learn that I liked Cross Country Sit Skiing and Curling the best. Curling is like a chess game on ice. Thank you to both the NSCD and Snow Mountain Ranch for this really positive experience and I hope to come back to Winter Park, CO to participate in Downhill Skiing through the NSCD in the future.”
The NSCD is excited about the possibility of extending this first-time event to create a summer program for veterans and hopes that this new winter Paralympic Experience will become an annual event at Snow Mountain Ranch – YMCA of the Rockies.
“At Snow Mountain Ranch – YMCA of the Rockies we believe that Nordic Skiing should be enjoyed by everyone, to be able to combine our love of skiing and our mission-driven initiatives to support military families was a wonderful opportunity today,” said Tom Merkt, Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Director. “We’re excited for this Paralympic Experience to become an annual event.”
There were 36 NSCD staff members at the event. NSCD works to keep a one-to-one ratio or a two-to-one ratio when conducting Paralympic events.
“The NSCD has a dedicated volunteer base of more than 800 volunteers for winter programming. Everyday we’re making the impossible possible,” said Rhiannon Smith, Volunteer Coordinator at NSCD.