Ski for Light draws 250 to Snow Mountain Ranch | SkyHiNews.com

Ski for Light draws 250 to Snow Mountain Ranch

Sarah Wieck / Special to the Sky-Hi News

Last week, more than 250 participants (skiers, guides and worker-bees) from the U.S. and five foreign countries gathered in Granby to begin a week of skiing, sharing, and learning.

Each year Ski for Light conducts a week-long event in a different location and the Fraser Valley was the proud host of the 40th Anniversary of Ski for Light at the Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center.

Participants skied on well-groomed 5K and 10K courses in beautiful weather for five days in preparation for the Race/Rally on Saturday, Jan. 31. Many local volunteers helped as course marshals or the cheering/bell ringing enthusiasts as the skiers crossed the finish line.

During the Ski for Light week each disabled skier is paired for the week with an experienced, sighted, able-bodied cross-country skier who acts as ski instructor and guide. The disabled person skis in tracks in the snow, while the guide skis in a parallel set of tracks. The guide informs the skier about upcoming changes in the terrain and trail, offers instructional tips and suggestions, support as necessary, encouragement, and describes the countryside.

After four days of skiing together, the skier decides whether they want to enter the 10K timed race or the 5K rally. The race is a challenge to see who is fastest. The 5K rally requires the skier and guide to predict the time it will take them to complete the course and, without watches or other timing devices, come closest to their predicted time. The 5K rally is great for first year skiers who are just learning and for many other who just want to enjoy the week without the pressure of a timed race. Over 200 happy faces crossed the finish line on Saturday.

The first Ski for Light event took place in Summit County 40 years ago and was organized by a Norwegian who patterned the event after the Ridderrenn in Norway. The mission of Ski for Light is to teach blind, visually- and mobility-impaired adults the sport of classic cross-country skiing, to give participants who have already mastered the basics the chance to improve their skills and endurance, and to enable participants to just have fun on the snow.

Those goals were definitely accomplished last week in Grand County with outstanding support from the trail groomer and staff at the Nordic Center, the bus drivers from First Transit, the caterers from Stone Creek Catering, the Sons of Norway Norwegian dessert hostesses, the staff at the Inn at Silver Creek, and the many volunteers from our valley. We did Grand County proud!