Having been born with cerebral palsy there wasn’t much hope for skiing. It probably wasn’t the first thing on the minds of the neurologists who were diagnosing me after birth. I’m sure it wasn’t on the minds of my parents in the first month or two of my life. Doctors were trying to figure out if I could move my legs, arms, head, and eyes and wondering if I would walk and talk. Little did they know, as I smiled through my appointments, I was already thinking about the first time I would be on skis.
Growing up in the Seattle area we didn’t get much snow. There were a few years we would get a lot but the following year we may only see a dusting or none at all. Living in a mountainous area we could always drive for an hour or so to experience the snow. I grew up with 4 ski areas within 2 hours of home. Learning to ski was as normal as learning to play soccer as a child. My parents decided early on I was going to give every sport or activity I liked a try. Cerebral palsy wasn’t going to stop me from attempting the things other kids were doing. If it looked like fun to me, I should at least make an attempt.
I recall several winters growing up when we got a substantial amount of snow. The Woodniville area got a couple feet and it stuck around for a week or so. Our house sat in the middle of a hill, which wasn’t too steep, the perfect pitch to learn how to ski. The idea of skiing ran through my father’s mind just prior to one of these snowstorms. We drove down to Woodinville before the worst of it hit and rented skis I was pretty excited. After the snow piled up for a couple days, my brother and I headed outside and strapped on our skis. With dad there to guide us we started in our driveway, which had a small downhill slope to it. We placed our skis in a “V” and slowly scooted down the driveway. Dad plopped us on a sled when we reached the street and pulled us back to the garage doors at the top of the drive to try again.
Once we had mastered the short driveway, he took us out onto the street. Very few cars were able to drive the roads by this point, so dad pulled us to the top of the hill on the sled and down we went. The street was steeper than the driveway and I looked down the road with apprehension and excitement. At the bottom we got back on the sled and dad pulled us up to the top. My brother and I at ages 8 and 6 learned how to ski with our father’s guidance. There was nowhere to go and nothing else to do so we spent hours learning to ski.
I was probably too young to understand what having cerebral palsy meant. As a child I didn’t think too much about my physical limitations and my parents encouraged trying new things. It was a safe environment to learn something new. If cerebral palsy had made it too difficult to ski, nothing would have been lost. Thanks to the patience of my dad, plenty of snow and the safe environment to learn I was skiing before I knew any different.