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Do you want a different skiing experience from the noise and bustle of alpine ski resorts? Do you want to get outdoors in the winter and get some exercise? Is alpine skiing or snowboarding a bit too expensive for your budget? If any of these are true, then cross-country skiing could be the winter sport for you.  

Wally Lee, cross country
and alpine adaptive skiing

Cross-country skiing (also known as Nordic skiing) is more like taking a walk, jog or bike ride through the woods. It’s the earliest form of skiing, invented by the people of Norway and Sweden in the Middle Ages to go “cross country” through the snow during their long winters. Nordic skiers enjoy skiing along easy trails through the woods, without the noise of the lifts and general craziness of alpine skiers whizzing by.

This season, Ogden Valley Adaptive Sports (OVAS) is offering adaptive cross-country skiing in partnership with the Ogden Nordic Ski School. We have two highly experienced cross-country ski instructors who are eager to share their passion. 

Wally Lee is a Level 1 Adaptive PSIA-certified instructor and brings his unique perspective as a spinal cord injury survivor. He teaches both alpine and cross-country sit skiing, and calls cross-country skiing the ultimate exercise. “I love the calmness within and around me when I am gliding  along using my own energy,” Wally said. “Skiing is freedom from the ball and chain wheelchair.”

Don Hickman at Ogden Nordic

Don Hickman, the President of our Board of Trustees, is a PSIA-certified cross-country ski instructor and brings over 50 years of experience. “I love to teach this sport!” Don said. 

Similar to adaptive alpine skiing, we use adaptive equipment and techniques to teach cross-country skiing. The equipment ranges from standard cross-country skis, boots and poles to cross-country sit skis for people who cannot stand or ski. The main difference in cross-country skiing is that we must do all the work ourselves, since there are no lifts to carry us to the top of the hill. This “ski in the woods” offers participants not only incredible  exercise but also a more intimate experience in nature. Just like in our other programs, we serve people with cognitive, physical and visual disabilities and impairments.  

Don Hickman guiding John
Kusko, a visually impaired racer,
at Soldier Hollow, Utah

Don is also a volunteer guide and coach with the U.S. Paralympic Nordic Ski Team. He helps the team find, recruit and train people who want to cross-country ski. This is not just about developing the country’s future Paralympians; it’s also about expanding interest in the sport and giving people an opportunity to try it. 

This past December 2022, Don volunteered as a coach at Move United’s Hartford Ski Spectacular Nordic ski camp in Breckenridge, Colorado. “It’s just so incredible to be with folks from all walks of life who just want to get out and ski,” Don said. While there, Don coached cross-country skiing to people with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, below-the-knee amputations and visual impairments. 

Don with Oksana Masters, 2022 Beijing Paralympic
Nordic Gold Medalist, at Soldier Hollow, Utah, January

In January, Don guided one athlete with visual impairment at the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing Continental Cup in Soldier Hollow, Utah. That athlete was John Kusko, who started cross-country skiing just one month earlier. Don guided him through both the classic sprint and freestyle 5-kilometer races. John performed so well that he won each race in his class (visually impaired male). 

Nordic skiing is truly a sport for everyone. The community is small, inclusive and fun. We hope you’ll try it out! 

Please contact us to learn more about how we can help you “get out for a ski in the woods” this winter.

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