Ski Spectacular Draws Hundreds To Breckenridge
Sunny skies, chilly temperatures, and a mountain of snow provided perfect conditions for the 31st annual Hartford Ski Spectacular December 3-9, 2018, at Beaver Run Resort and Breckenridge Ski Resort in Breckenridge, Colorado.
More than 800 participants registered for the event, hosted by Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA), including more than 100 wounded military veterans, service members, family members, and military medical staff from the United States and Great Britain.
There was no shortage of activities, adaptive sports, and events to keep participants busy during the week-long event. Attendees enjoyed social and networking events, ski and snowboard lessons, a race camp, and the Ski Spec Challenge Race, as well as free clinics in Nordic skiing, biathlon, curling, and sled hockey.
Carl Harvey traveled from Great Britain to attend the Ski Spectacular for the second time. Harvey lost his right leg below the knee in a non-combat accident several years ago. He is part of Blesma, The Limbless Veterans, a British charity that helps former servicemen and servicewomen who have lost limbs or the use of their limbs or vision to rebuild their lives, which has participated in the event every year for the past 16 years.
The Ski Spectacular is a blessing for Blesma's 15 servicemembers who participated in this year's event, said Harvey, who took up skiing following his accident. "Skiing helped me get away from doing nothing," he said.
Harvey has skied in Germany and France but said that Colorado's mountains offer much more skiing than most of the slopes in Europe. "The mountains here are so large that you can take so many different runs without having to take multiple lifts."
Josh Elliott, 37, a former Marine and Paralympian, lost both legs when he stepped on a 200-pound explosive device in Afghanistan in April 2011. He attended his first Ski Spectacular in 2011 as a means to help the healing process from his combat injuries. He comes annually as a race mentor to help train other wounded servicemembers become Paralympians. "I'm here to watch new athletes and help develop their skills," Elliott said.
The Ski Spectacular isn't only for veterans. Becki Walters, of Boise, Idaho, lost her right leg above the knee to cancer in 1978 when she was 16 years old. She has been a certified ski instructor since 1986. This year, she gave ski lessons to Posi Mansfield, who lost her right leg below the knee in an accident seven years ago. Mansfield, who turned 70 years old this month, has been a lifelong skier. She didn't want to stop skiing despite losing her leg. "First they suggested I try a mono ski," said Mansfield, a resident of Essex, Massachusetts. "But I have stood my entire life and I wasn't ready to sit down just yet."
Mansfield said she was hoping to get instruction from someone who also had an amputation when the two women met in a hallway at the resort.
The Hartford, a founding partner of the U.S. Paralympics, has been the title sponsor of the Hartford Ski Spectacular since 1994.
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