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.
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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

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If You Wear XL T-Shirts And Shorts, You're The Woman Of My Dreams

Enough with the war on comfort!
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Comfortable can be sexy, simply put.

For some reason there are people complaining out there about the Southern college trend that has been happening the past few years: big t-shirts and shorts, also known as the "srat uniform." There seems to be a clash between the girls who dress "nice" most of the time and girls who dress for comfort. As a guy, I don't see what the big deal is?

For college in the South, there are two reasons to dress up: college football (Roll Tide) and date parties. Any other time, you can find a majority of the female population in shorts and a big t-shirt that makes it look like they're not wearing pants. As a man, I personally don't see anything wrong with this. I love being comfortable as much as the next person, and most guys find the baggy t-shirt and shorts outfit to be cute. There's always a time and place for dresses and rompers.

But for all the haters out there that call these girls in XL t-shirts and shorts lazy, you've got it all wrong.

There are 4 reasons why the girls who don the "srat uniform" have it all figured out.

1. Girls have it rough.

See, it's tough being a girl. I don't know from experience, but I hear it enough and I've seen it enough to know it's true. When girls aren't dealing with f***boys, periods or having to do their hair and makeup routinely, they are being overly criticized by our society. I think society owes girls a break, and that break comes in the comfortable baggy t-shirt and shorts.

2. Southern Not-So-Comfort(able) weather.

Also, for all of the haters, maybe y'all haven't noticed that it's hotter than Satan's balls in the South! Tight, dressy outfits and pants constrict the body and cause you to sweat. I'd rather see a dry girl in a baggy t-shirt than a girl drenched in sweat trying to look cute with her outfit.

3. Perfect doesn't exist.

It's admirable when a girl can unapologetically be herself. A girl in an XL t-shirt and shorts is a girl that is saying "yes, I may have just rolled out of bed and brushed my hair, but I'm here dammit." Social media tells us we all have to be the dolled up, most "perfect" version of ourselves all the time, so it's nice to experience that reality check.

4. Guys think it's cute, regardless.

9 times out of 10, guys in college do not care what you're wearing. Trust me, we aren't doing much better. You could probably put on a garbage bag and we still think you're cute. Any guy that dates a girl that dates a girl only because she dresses nicely all of the time is a shallow man. You're cute, you're comfortable, and that makes for a much better vibe. We all win.

So, in the battle of dressing "nice" and dressing comfortable, I think that the girls who wear an XL t-shirt and shorts chalk up a win in my record book. No, I'm not bashing on girls who have a true sense of style and wear nice clothing... that's a great thing in itself! But, this is college and there are more important things to focus on besides what we're wearing.

Ladies, wear your srat uniform with pride. Some us think it's cute :)

*I want to thank the beautiful ladies at the University of Alabama for inspiring this article.*

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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Sorry, The World Cup Just Isn't My Cup Of Tea

I'll say it... I don't like soccer.

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The media has been buzzing non-stop for the past few weeks about few things other than the World Cup. I don't know anything about soccer other than hand usage is a no-go, and I won't pretend to know anything other than that, but I get the feeling there are some people out there who have better poker faces than I when it comes to talking about FIFA.

I've never played soccer, no one in my immediate family has ever played soccer, and few people in my extended family have ever played soccer, let alone been enthusiasts of the game. I'll say it, I don't like soccer. I've been immersed in a football-centric family from the get-go and that will never change, but that has rarely been a good enough reason for people to not become offended when I say that I don't like soccer.

Listen, I get it, soccer has its fanbase just like every other sport, but I have never seen people get heated quite so quickly as they do when I say I don't like their favorite sport. I never understood soccer, I never enjoyed watching it, and I never enjoyed the very few times I played it when my friends or a gym teacher made me participate in my least favorite activity. That being said, I have met few people who are genuinely passionate about soccer all of the time, so why is it so many soccer enthusiasts come out of the woodwork when the World Cup comes around?

Every sport has its fans and its bandwagon fans, those who are all in for the sport all the time, and those who jump ship once the major events close up shop and the season is over, as does every sports team. For example, people who rarely ever watch a football game become suddenly invested in who might win the Lombardi Trophy, or not-so-diehard hockey fans are way more interested in who may win the Stanley Cup in the spring, but not so much in the fall the fall.

But there's something about soccer that draws out fans from the deepest and farthest corners of the world, and the number of viewers from regular season games to the World Cup games grows exponentially. It is incredible to see how people connect over the Cup, the individual games, and their support of their chosen team, even if they are complete strangers, but where do all of these fans come from and where do they go once FIFA is over and soccer goes back into regular season games?

All the amazing statistics and surprises the World Cup has thrown at us aside, I'm sorry but it just isn't for me, and I really don't care what country wins. I know the world is abuzz with the excitement and anticipation that the finals are creating, but I just can't get into it. Like I said, everyone has their thing, their sport, and something that gets them going. I could watch football or a golf tournament all day, but soccer just doesn't do it for me, and I can already hear the roars of protest because I don't care whether Croatia or France wins the final. And, yes, I had to google who would be in the final.

Sorry, but I'm not sorry that I just can't get into the world cup.

Cover Image Credit:

https://www.pexels.com/photo/athletes-audience-ball-bleachers-270085/

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