The Chronicles Of A Sighted Guide And A Blind Skier

The Chronicles Of A Sighted Guide And A Blind Skier

I ski following a sighted guide and we communicate via Bluetooth headsets in our helmets.
265
views

Whenever I tell people I am a World Cup visually impaired ski racer, their first question is always, “Well how do you ski race if you’re blind?” The answer is that I can’t do it alone. I ski following a sighted guide and we communicate via Bluetooth headsets in our helmets. My guide and I ski down some of the world's steepest terrain at speeds upwards of fifty miles an hour together. Guide/ athlete pairs have a very interesting dynamic that is based off of communication and trust. Most strong relationships depend on a foundation of communication and trust, so it is perhaps unsurprising that this is the case. The pair must be able to communicate efficiently while on course as well as off the snow. For example, my guide tells me when to turn as well as what types of terrain we are hitting and in response, I tell her where I am and how far apart we are. Trust is incredibly important because the athlete must be able to depend on the guide to help him/ her safely navigate down a course. For someone like me who is a little bit of a control freak, it can be challenging giving away all of the control to someone else. Guides have a lot of responsibility helping their athletes, but it’s also a really incredible experience for the guide as well. Whenever a visually impaired person wins a medal, their guide receives one too. Guiding gives people an amazing opportunity to travel the world and compete in huge races including world championships and Paralympic games. However, guiding does come with a cost. It is a huge time commitment to travel full time with a blind athlete, and it takes a really selfless person to be a guide because a guide has to essentially give up his/ her own racing career and be fully dedicated to the dreams of the blind athlete. Together an athlete and guide make up a team and in order to be successful the pair must be equally dedicated to the goal.

In my case, that goal is to be one of the best visually impaired ski racers in the world and to compete in the 2018 PyeongChang winter Paralympics. Luckily for me I have the most spectacular guide to follow around the world. My guide, Sadie DeBaun, is a ski racer from Park City, Utah who I started working with a little over a year ago. We developed a strong relationship after a short time together, largely because we became really close friends on and off the snow. It took us some time to get to know each other, but I trust that Sadie will communicate to me everything I need to know. Not only when we are skiing, but on any adventures we may take on. Whether it be navigating through a buffet dinner in Europe, or finding the finish line of a World Cup, we are in it together. Without this trust and communication, it would be impossible for us to succeed on the World Cup circuit. Ski racing is unpredictable and challenging, and one of the reasons we are such an accomplished team is because no matter what situation we get into we know that we can work together to get out of it.

As we travel around Europe for the start of the International Paralympic Alpine Skiing World Cup circuit, I am continuously reminded of how lucky I am to be following someone who is so dedicated and committed to our goals. In ski racing there are a lot of ups and downs. It isn’t about always winning, it’s about being able to learn from all the falls and getting up stronger. Every day we go out to ski with two priorities; to have fun and to be better than we were yesterday. Regardless of the medals we end up with, Sadie and I will always share the memories, which is arguably even more valuable.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

Popular Right Now

To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

272269
views

When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Sports And Religion

Why are so many athletes religious?

150
views

I recently just made it on to the USC Track and Field team, and it is easily the biggest accomplishment I have ever made in my entire life. I worked so hard to physically and mentally prepare to try out for the team, let alone actually make it. I thank God for allowing me to have the chance to be a part of this team, as well as giving me that physical and mental strength required to do so, and I express this whenever someone congratulates me for making the team or even asks if I made it or not. However, I noticed that when I did this, some of the responses were a bit dismissive when I brought religion into the picture. When I said I thank God for it, I would be met with responses like "Yea well even aside from God..." or another response that drew the conversation away from my faith, away from the concept of a god.

In fact, I've noticed that many athletes are religious in some form-- more so collectively than other student bodies aside from religious groups themselves. I thought about why this may be, aside from the obvious answer such as growing up religious at home, because that does not answer the question; many people grew up in a religious household and are not religious themselves. So, I began to think personally. Why do I thank God for my athletic performance? There's a certain level of uncertainty within every sport. All athletes train their hardest to minimize this level of uncertainty, in order to maximize their chances of success. However, you can only train so hard. To me, no matter how hard you train, there's always some type of level of uncertainty to every level of performance: the chances of you getting injured, the chances of you winning your game or race, the chances of the opponent's performance, etc. This is where I think God intervenes, and perhaps other athletes would agree. There have been countless times where I ran well and had absolutely no idea how I did it. Yes, I worked hard to improve my times, but when you are in the moment of a race, or a game, that fades into the background, especially when everyone else has been working just as hard. It's just you, your race (or game), and God. That's it.

I could have not made the team. As a walk-on, there is more pressure for you to perform since the coaches did not seek you out; you sought them out. You are proving your abilities. Thus, I was nervous about my chances of actually making the team, especially considering the fact that the USC track team is arguably the best collegiate track team in the United States. I performed well during my try out and finished all the workouts, however I wasn't as fast as the other girls. In addition, I was 3 minutes late to my last day of tryouts and got chewed out by the coach for it. I was convinced that I blew my chances. And yet, somehow, I made it. I worked so hard for it, yes, but I thank God for keeping my body healthy so I could train to the best of my ability. I thank Him for allowing the coaches to have the time to try me out. I thank Him for allowing them to see my potential. I thank Him for giving me the best high school track coach possible who prepared me mentally and physically, as well as supported me throughout all the highs and all the lows. I thank Him for giving me this chance to continue my track career at the most prestigious collegiate team. My gratitude for all this, is simply infinite.

There is good reason why many athletes are religious; being an athlete requires you to be more than yourself. It requires you to dig deeper, into places that you didn't even think were possible, and really aren't without the belief of a higher power. The belief in a higher power, in whatever form or name that takes, means the belief in infinite possibility. And for an athlete to have that, means nothing can stop them from chasing their dreams.

Related Content

Facebook Comments