Top Facilities in Colorado for Disabled Snowbound Athletes

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Top Facilities in Colorado for Disabled Snowbound Athletes

National Sports Center for the Disabled partners with Colorado facilities, creating an atmosphere where anyone with any disability can hit the slopes.

The National Sports Center for the Disabled works to provide opportunities for disabled athletes. Here are the three major winter facilities that help make NSCD’s mission possible.

Winter Park Resort

Caption: Athletes compete at the 39th annual Wells Fargo Ski Cup held at Winter Park Resort in January. Credit: NSCD

Athletes compete at the 39th annual Wells Fargo Ski Cup held at Winter Park Resort in January. Credit: NSCD.

Since the beginning of NSCD, Winter Park Resort has been an instrumental supporter of the organization, serving along with Sports Authority Field at Mile High as home base for the NSCD. A state-of-the-art, 2,100-square-foot adaptive equipment lab allows Winter Park Resort to offer lessons and activities to individuals with almost any physical, cognitive, emotional or behavioral diagnosis imaginable. The facility’s specially trained staff and volunteers are dedicated to helping families touched by disability to find their confidence and renew their spirit through sports.

NSCD’s programs at Winter Park Resort have gone beyond simply allowing disabled athletes to participate in snow sports to allowing them to train and compete in winter sports competitions around the world. In February, Winter Park Resort hosted the 39th annual Wells Fargo Ski Cup, featuring competitions for NSCD athletes and their friends and families, as well as the World Disabled Invitational. Several NSCD Paralympic hopefuls participated, and in March, the NSCD sent 25 athletes to compete in the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, all who have trained at Winter Park Resort.

Kroenke Sports Charities Avalanche Ability Clinics at the Pepsi Center

Participants in the Avalanche Ability Clinic pause for a group photo. Credit: Pepsi Center

Participants in the Avalanche Ability Clinic pause for a group photo.
Credit: Pepsi Center.

The NSCD is proud to partner with Kroenke Sports Charities and the Pepsi Center for its annual Colorado Avalanche Ability Clinic. This interactive two-hour clinic is hosted at the Pepsi Center in Denver and allows kids and adults with any disability to experience hockey for free. Along with meeting professional players from the Colorado Avalanche, participants get to work right alongside the pros to develop their skills. The clinic’s fun-filled activities include instruction, skill development, use of adaptive equipment, games and prizes. NSCD’s ability clinics are special because they help disabled athletes to focus on what they can do, rather than on what they can’t. Getting to play, learn and interact with the professional players helps to build their confidence and opens up their eyes to what they can achieve.

YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch

Disabled skiers have access to more than 100 kilometers of groomed trails at Snow Mountain Ranch. Credit: Snow Mountain Ranch.

Disabled skiers have access to more than 100 kilometers of groomed trails at Snow Mountain Ranch. Credit: Snow Mountain Ranch.

The YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch, near Winter Park, has been an instrumental partner of the NSCD for the past 16 years. The resort provides the NSCD with a year-round venue for its sports programs, from Nordic skiing and snowshoeing in the winter to river rafting and swimming in the summer, but the two major programs at the resort for the NSCD are the therapeutic riding center and the Nordic Center. The therapeutic riding center operates during the summer, from Memorial Day through the end of September, and offers more than 400 lessons each year. Through connecting with a horse, participants in the program reap life-enhancing benefits, including increased confidence, organizational skills, independence, self-responsibility and appropriate social and emotional behavior.

The Nordic Center offers NSCD the use of its more than 100 kilometers of groomed trails for a variety of programs. In order to provide programs for individuals with disabilities of all kinds, the NSCD partners with several different organizations at the Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center, including USA Paralympics and Ski For Light, an organization that provides ski instruction to the blind. Although most of the adaptive equipment used in NSCD’s ski program at Snow Mountain Ranch is brought from the organization’s headquarters in Winter Park, the Ranch also provides much of the equipment that allows individuals with disabilities to participate in Alpine skiing, snowboarding, ski racing and much more. NSCD ski programs operate at Snow Mountain Ranch from January through March.

The NSCD is proud to partner with these three facilities for its activities and programs. Working together, the NSCD and the organizations that run these venues help to make every day an inspiration for disabled athletes.

By Stephanie Schmidt